There’s this weird little thrill you get when playing a strategy management title. It’s the moment when you lay out a new structure, and your workers scuttle about, making your orders happen. Or it’s those rewarding moments where, after some trial and error, you’re starting to get the hang of how to generate resources and profit. In moments like these, you just lean back, take your hands off the keyboard and mouse, and marvel at what you’re making. For these reasons and more, it’s easy to get lost in Spatials: Galactology.
Developed by Barcelona-based indie studio Weird and Wry, Spatials: Galactology has you building your own Star Trek-style Federation from the ground up. Starting on a barren planet, you’ll begin by constructing a home base and covering the basic amenities. Very quickly though, you’ll be sending ships on away missions to nearby planets to make nice (hopefully) with the locals, extracting resources, and establishing trade throughout the solar system–and that’s just within the first few hours. You’ll eventually be taking your burgeoning space government and growing fleet out into the unknown galaxy. You’ll broker peace with some, make war on others, and always keep an eye towards intergalactic commerce. You’ll know you’re making progress, too, as the game rewards you with bonuses for meeting each incremental goal during your playtime.
Playing more like a building and management simulator like Prison Architect than a 4x strategy game like the Galactic Civilizations series, The Spatials: Galactology asks you to get more hands-on with your crew as you delegate tasks, explore new planets, grow your HQ, and establish relations with other alien species. With enough goodwill you can even build a recruitment center and hire from their own ranks. When I say “hands on,” I really mean it. When you touch down and explore a new planet, it pays off to lead your crew around yourself, or even teleport them around the map to find supplies, equipment, and credits. This may also increase your risk of running into more hostile fauna or populace, but you can defend yourself with the right crew members. If things get too hairy, you can always click the “take off” button and go back into orbit.
You can only explore one planet at a time, but that’s a good thing, because Spatials: Galactology very quickly builds up a lot of moving parts. It’s a little too easy to get yourself lost in the intricacies of crewing a new ship, or working out a fresh trade route, only to backslide on your HQ upkeep. While you can pause and issue orders, or speed up the game to finish tasks faster, a more user-friendly interface would have made everything easier to manage.
There are points where Spatials: Galactology can become overwhelming with its micromanagement on the needs of your crew, your ships, your diplomatic relationships, etc. And although there is a tutorial, oftentimes you’ll learn more by trial and error. But like many indie games, if you look past the unpolished presentation you’ll see the deeper game being played, one where you can quickly delegate crew orders, establish a new planetary ally, and plot a new trade route with a few clicks. I’m still having fun with this title, and if you like more low-key, chilled out, space-based strategy titles, you’ll like Spatials: Galactology too.
A copy of this game was provided to us for review purposes