Star Control: Origins Review PC

excellent
key review info
  • Game: Star Control: Origins
  • Platform: PC
  • Gamepad support: Yes  
  • Reviewed on:
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Star Control: Origins artwork

Despite Stardock being known for its 4X strategy games, Star Control: Origins draws inspiration from completely different genres. The fourth Star Control game ever released is an action adventure with RPG elements, which is set in a completely different universe.

Star Control: Origins isn't a prequel or a successor of the other three Star Control games released in the '90s, so don't expect to meet any of the old characters or races. The best way to describe Origins is a combination of Mass Effect 1's resource gathering and No Man's Sky exploration systems.

Stardock is trying to appease to as many gamers as possible with Star Control: Origins, which is why the game borrows elements from multiple genres. Not a bad thing of course, just a bit harder to describe gameplay-wise.

Although Star Control: Origins is only available on the PC, Stardock is exploring the possibility of bringing the title to other platforms (PS4 and Xbox One), so if you're a console player, don't despair yet.

Star Control: Origins screenshot
Star Control: Origins screenshot
Star Control: Origins screenshot
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Story

Star Control: Origins starts pretty generic for a space saga involving exploration. You command the most advanced spaceship in the human history, not yet capable of hyperjumps, but fast enough to be able to visit all the planets in our solar system. However, what happens after you take your first flight is completely unusual and worthy of a TV show.

I sincerely didn't know what to expect from Star Control: Origins, but I was hooked after an hour or so. I think the best way to describe Stardock's latest game is a light-hearted “space opera,” or better, think Star Trek meets The Orville.

The first alien race you meet in space, the Tywoms, are, coincidentally, the most benevolent toward humans. All they want is to shake our hands and offer us massages. In return, they're willing to share their technology with us, and even become the first allies we get in the upcoming fight against the tyrannical Scryve.

Star Control: Origins screenshot
Star Control: Origins screenshot
Star Control: Origins screenshot
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Despite that every new alien race you encounter during your explorations are humorously presented, there's a serious plot hiding behind. Star Control: Origins doesn't have a time limit rule, so you can explore at your own pace. More often than not I felt like Captain Picard deciding whether or not to help an alien race, or, in other case, how to approach a hostile alien race.

There are tons of quests throughout the game, which can be solved in different ways. Help an alien race and they will remember in the future, and the same goes if you're attacking them repeatedly. The writing is exceptional in Star Control: Origins, something that I did not expect to say about a Stardock game.

I reckon that I haven't yet played a game that's more funnier than Star Control: Origins. Each conversation with an alien is a hilarious sketch, and there are no exceptions. To give you an idea of how serious Star Control: Origins takes itself, I should mention that you won't have to look too much to find a certain Tesla that's been sent to space.

Gameplay

For the most part, Star Control: Origins requires players to gather resources from the planets they visit and handle the diplomacy for the humanity whenever meeting an alien race. The resource part is pretty simple, as you scan a planet, send your lander to the surface to gather those resources.

I believe this is the weakest aspect of the game since it can become repetitive and tedious after a while. And the worst part is that you definitely need those resources for at least half the game, so there's no way around it if you want to continue to upgrade your ship or have enough money to fuel your expeditions in various parts of universe.

Aside from that, you're free to parley explore hundreds of galaxies and thousands of planets, much of them under Scryve's rule. Although you start with a single main objective – finding allies powerful enough to help you fight the Scryve who threaten to obliterate the humans for the simple fact of existing, you soon enough find many other threats throughout the universe.

Your ship's movements are taking into consideration gravity, so it might feel awkward to control at first. The moment your ship nears a planet, it will automatically scan it and offer you a report with what resources you can gather and if there are any “unidentified structures” that you can explore.

There is combat in Star Control: Origins, but each battle takes place in some kind of arena from the top-down view. Before the battle commences, you can choose a ship from your space fleet (if you have more) to open up the combat. Each ship has two different weapons that use energy, which replenishes fast enough to allow you to spam one of them for a few seconds. The combat system is very simple to understand, but a bit harder to master since different weapons/ships leave room for a myriad of tactics.

Ultimately, Star Control: Origins is not about combat (although you have to be ready for it at any moment), but about exploration, meeting new races and establishing a solid network of allies.


The Good

  • Exceptional, well written dialogues
  • Interesting plot
  • Massive universe to explore
  • Plenty of alien races
  • Simple but hard to master space fleet combat system
  • Excellent music and voice acting

The Bad

  • Resource gathering system can become tedious
  • Some technical issues

Conclusion

Stardock set out to offer players a game in which they can explore galaxies at their own pace, without being constrained to a linear narrative, and brilliantly succeeded. Star Control: Origins gives the player a reason to begin the journey, but it's the player who decides where and when to go. The game explains you the rules, but doesn't hold your hand throughout your adventures, hence the freedom feel.

The top-notch writing wants to imply that Star Control: Origins doesn't take too seriously, but you have all the ingredients of a full Star Trek season. The influences are clearly there, so if you're a Trekkie, you'll feel right at home playing Stardock's game.

Star Control: Origins screenshot
Star Control: Origins screenshot
Star Control: Origins screenshot
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More importantly, Star Control: Origins feels very much alive. As you set out to explore new galaxies, seek out new life and new civilizations, you'll fly by galaxies with vibrant spaceship traffic. You can hail vessels you meet in the outer space, or simply open fire if you're pursuing a more hostile approach.

Star Control: Origins perfectly combines exceptional writing, total exploration freedom, satisfying space combat, excellent voice acting and hypnotizing music. Although I felt intimidated by the importance of the journey ahead, the well written, humorous dialogues gently transitioned me into a state of pure excitement. No words can better describe Star Control: Origins than actually playing it. It's a masterpiece.

story 9
gameplay 9
concept 10
graphics 8
audio 9
multiplayer 0
final rating 9
Editor's review
excellent
 

Star Control: Origins screenshots (39 Images)

Star Control: Origins artwork
Star Control: Origins screenshotStar Control: Origins screenshotStar Control: Origins screenshotStar Control: Origins screenshot
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