It’s a disease, I think – every time a 4X game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) pops up, I’m all over it.
Astra Exodus fits the bill, and it’s always good to give any new entry in the genre a go in case it happens to bring something new to things, mixes it up, ‘pulls a Galactic Civilizations II’, as it’s known (nobody says this).
Astra Exodus does nothing new, and plenty old, and is a fine insomnia cure.
Ignoring the semi-frequent bug that popped up and rendered the entire universe in blinding white, as well as the plentiful typos, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes littering the game, there’s little about Astra Exodus that’s outright bad.
This certainly isn’t something a reviewer would, could, or should pile on regardless of how much of a release that might be. This is a game that is absolutely competent when everything’s running as it should – and therein lies the problem. It obviously needs to be a lot more than that.
You set up your galactic homestead and spread out, colonising new planets and running the day-to-day operations as you try to get some kind of population on these new (mostly) empty rocks. Along the way, you encounter alien races and engage in diplomacy with them, in which they appear to behave in an oddly binary way – either your absolute bestie, or as though they saw you kick a puppy once.
It does feel like there’s little in-between. You research things with nary a tooltip in sight (prevalent elsewhere, it’s fair to point out), and ship-to-ship combat can be carried out in a top-down tactical format. Honestly, you’ll skip it every single time after doing it a couple of times, because it’s so slow, and your decisions on the fly impact very little.
Pretty much every feature in Astra Exodus is one that absolutely should be there, and one that you’re happy is there. Equally, pretty much every feature in Astra Exodus is one that induces zero excitement, offers nothing new, and does little of note. It is, in a word, boring.
Maybe you’ve never bothered with the GalCiv series, perhaps Stellaris isn’t for you, and it might well be that Endless Space 2 has passed you by. There’s the chance you don’t know what Master Of Orion 2 is, either.
If you’re in that peculiar situation and don’t want to rectify it by picking up any of the just-mentioned titles, for whatever reason that might be, then sure – Astra Exodus will fill a hole in your life. You’ll be able to mindlessly tap on the end turn button and spend much longer than you’d expect hoping your population’s construction output improves, while tweaking your ship designs for no discernable difference to their performance in battles.
Everything from 4X bingo is ticked off, present and correct. But you shouldn’t do that – just get one of the others, or if you already have them, just stick with them. Astra Exodus is uninspired in the extreme, and catastrophically mediocre.
While it stands out in absolutely no other way, Astra Exodus does at least have some semblance of character thanks to the simple act of putting faces to things. Every department under your control has a gurning mug attached to it, and some alien designs are pretty natty. Admittedly this is pushing things a bit to call it a ‘highlight’.
Absolutely competent at its best. Far more often it’s utterly prosaic.
Format: PC (tested)
Developer: Atomic Kaiser
Release: Out now