Massive Damage Inc.'s Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander is a well-crafted game that combines elements of many into a singularly fun and unique experience. Topping off this interstellar attempt at humanity's survival is the nostalgic visuals and fun humor intertwined throughout.
Halcyon 6 reminds me heavily of the overall structure of games like XCOM. The galaxy is your playground in this case, and it's up to you as the commander to prioritize your forces and overall direction. Do you spend time closing wormholes in the galaxy to defend against the alien invaders? Perhaps your starbase's several unexplored and unbuilt rooms are where you want to focus, building up your base's abilities and your Armada's skills. This creates a game where your choices directly impact the story, making it necessary to think about your next moves carefully. You don't want to end up stranded without fuel and materials to get around or repair your fleet, do you? This lovely mixture of both RPG and strategy provides ample gameplay in both categories. The turn-based combat, leveling systems, and general storyline fall right in light with great RPGs, whereas the strategy aspect of the game allows you to manage resources, protect your galactic citizens, and basic army management.
Setting off after a long, but well-executed introduction and tutorial, you're left as the sole remaining ranking commander of humanity's forces in the galaxy. You control the Halcyon, an ancient starbase full of mysterious technology humanity has been attempting to unlock and understand. While your troops recuperate at the starbase, the galaxy has been thrust into turmoil after the introduction of an alien race, the Chruul, bent on destroying all of your colonies and outposts. On top of that, pirate raiders make life difficult on the frontier. It's up to you as commander to protect your civilization, find shaky common ground with some of the local alien populations, and prevent your extermination at the hands of the invading interstellar forces.
A massive and fun part of the game is the turn-based combat. Reminiscent of older RPG titles, combat takes place based on the speed of your fleet or ground forces. Each member/ship is complete with their own skills and abilities that will hopefully save the day. Each ship commander comes from a specific background - strategist, scientist, leader, etc. - and these roles impact the types of skills and abilities they come equipped with. Over time your commanders will level, giving you access to better skills and stats as they survive the dangerous galaxy.
While your fleets hop around and hopefully destroy your enemies, Halcyon itself is ripe for development. It's possible to clear out the old, junk filled rooms and build them into greater things. From these rooms and upgrades, you're able to recruit new commanding officers and start working on building up your fleets or even researching new ship technologies and upgrades. However, all of these take both an officer to initiate and time to complete; during this period expect some sort of threat to pop up somewhere on the galactic map. At that point, you're forced to choose between your wants and your needs. Flying around the map does require fuel, and building/researching requires resources as well. These resources are harvested from the very colonies and people you protect, making it necessary to hold up your end of the bargain lest you get blood on your hands.
Throughout the game, random events, oddball alien races, and funny conversations abound. While the random events and conversations can help spice some of the game up at times, it can be annoying to suddenly find yourself potentially facing another battle when your ships are smoking and full of holes. Random chance can be a blessing, but also a terrible curse (same goes for in the middle of combat, too). But least the game is great to look at while all of these bad things happen to you.
Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander is a fantastic game. The gameplay, visuals, and goofiness of the game are treats. I didn't necessarily enjoy the ramping difficulty of the game; I found myself almost destroyed 30 days into the campaign against a single alien fleet that ripped my three ships apart. Combined with the randomness that can potentially kill you (I ended up losing one of those ships in a random encounter) means even the best intentions can kill you. If you enjoy the threat of imminent death with fun gameplay, this one is for you.
Note: Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander was reviewed based on a digital PC copy of the game, provided by the publisher.