Startopia

Good
  • Unique setting filled with humour as you watch your space station evolve from basic to an advanced thriving location
  • Vast number of buildings and alien races to manage ensures each scenario plays differently
Bad
  • Graphically leaves a lot to be desired due to release time and is made worse by modern day resolution sizes
8

Startopia is the brain child of several former Bullfrog employees which has players taking control of several space stations as you attempt to create a thriving space hub for the galaxy to visit. Released in 2001 the game features similar humour filled gameplay of games previously developed by Bullfrog such as Dungeon Keeper and Theme Hospital.

startopia-gameplay-stores

Startopia takes place in a universe that has recently been devastated by war on an intergalactic scale which has left the galaxy mostly barren and in desperate need of revival. With a thriving network of stations now left mostly abandoned the player decides to take it upon themselves to restore these from the brink of the apocalypse end. Your role is that of the Stationmaster who is given complete control of several space stations that each have a different scenario objective with your goal to achieve it in the most economically efficient way to create a beacon of hope in the galaxy. These goals range from reaching a specific economy milestone, alien specific goal or having a particularly level of influence over the station although a sandbox mode is also available and removes these objectives for players to simply develop their ideal space station.

Management is the focus in Startopia with players not having direct control of the aliens they attract to their station which requires you to utilise other game mechanics to influence your progression. This means your time is instead spent creating the necessary rooms to encourage your visitors to spend a larger amount of time and money in your space port that can be invested back into its development. Your other management lever in Startopia is hiring alien employees that each have their preferred job role based on their individual stats that make them more suited to particular roles for optimisation. The Rutakken are nerdy scientists that prefer to work in the laboratory for example while the Dahanese Siren is ideal for the love nest.

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Initial scenario levels focus on space stations with only a single or double deck layout to serve as an introduction to core mechanics. In time you’ll progress to the standard three deck layout that is featured in the majority of your scenario challenges which provides a primary space deck (engineering) where visitors enter and exit, a pleasure deck where you’ll generate revenue and a biodeck that is used to create various resources. In order to achieve success you’ll need to blend these three decks together and utilise their specific mechanics to ensure you grow your station influence towards the scenario objective.

As a result the gameplay loop of Startopia revolves around building facilities and hiring the appropriate workers to operate them effectively. In turn you’ll generate the basic game resources to meet the basic and advanced needs of your visitors and workers (commonly referred to as Peeps) that allow for further investment into visitor happiness. This includes mind, body, nourishment, toilet, love, fun, sleep and soul that are generated from both buildings you’ve constructed and specific events based on the alien race.

startopia-gameplay-enemy-agent

As an example building the disco on your pleasure deck will  provide an option for alien races to exchange their nourishment, toilet and sleep statistics for fun and soul by dancing on the stage. Meanwhile a Dine-o-Mat will restore nourishment that creates a balancing act of different structures. Further balance is required as each of these structures has a unique footprint (fixed and variable), power consumption differences and vastly different costs. To further complicate your progress Startopia will challenge players with randomised events such as enemy agent invasions that require your security forces to be suitably developed.

When it all comes together Startopia is a truly unique experience and a gem in gaming history that fans of business simulation games and even city builders will love as you craft your personalised space stations and overcome an array of challenges.

Summary:

  • Unique space station management experience that requires you to overcome a variety of challenges or build the ultimate station in the sandbox mode.
  • Build rooms for food and recreation to attract visitors and extract maximum monetary value from them.
  • Optimise your workforce from the nine alien races that each have their own speciality service.
  • Defend your space station from enemy agents as you attempt to grow your influence in the station.
  • From the same brains that brought you the humour based management adventures of Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper.

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Review Platform: PC

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Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms. He has worked in the gaming industry since 2008 amassing over 3 million views on YouTube and 10 million article views on HubPages.

Games Finder is a Steam Curator and featured in the aggregate review scores data of MobyGames and Neoseeker.
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