Regular readers of Geeky Hobbies will know that I have been a sucker for the simulation strategy/tycoon genre ever since I was a kid. It is honestly one of my favorite video game genres. I just find it really satisfying creating a well run business/organization. Recently I have taken a look at quite a few games from this genre. I was intrigued when I saw Base One though as the idea of a game from this genre based around building a space station really intrigued me. Base One is a fun space station simulator that fans of the genre should enjoy even if it is a little rough around the edges.
In the future a large wormhole opens up near Earth. The wormhole begins tearing the moon apart which leads to large natural disasters throughout the world. While the situation eventually stabilizes, it is a matter of time before the wormhole destroys the rest of the moon and makes Earth uninhabitable. To plan for life away from Earth and explore the wormhole, the Earth Global Union creates a program to explore space to try and find a long term solution for humanity. You are put in charge of that task to hopefully create a better future for humanity.
Base One can basically be summed up as a space base simulation strategy game. In the game you are put in charge of running various space stations. You are responsible for running the day to day operations as well as expanding the station to provide more resources and modules for your residents.
As you are running a space station the whole game is built around a module system. You begin with a hub module and you expand out from there. There are quite a few different types of modules that provide various benefits for the station. The construction system is built on a grid system where modules are connected to one another through passageways. Once a module is constructed you can add a number of pieces of equipment to the module depending on its type. As the station is interconnected you are forced to set up a network to transport resources to each module. As you are in space you need to build a heating and oxygen system that provides both to each module that residents of the space station will regularly visit. You will also need to supply electricity, logistics, and other resources to many of the modules. Basically you are tasked with creating a well run station that provides the resources needed to each module while also keeping the residents happy and safe.
I have played a lot of different games from this simulation strategy/tycoon genre, so I had a pretty good idea of what Base One would play like. I would say that the game was pretty close to what I expected of it. Basically take your typical game from this genre and add the space station theme. This isn’t meant to be taken as an insult. Base One doesn’t differentiate itself significantly from other games from the genre, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good game. I enjoyed the game and I think most fans of this genre that also like the space theme should as well. Basically the game is mostly built around placing various modules into your station in order to provide for your workers, perform research, and create items from the resources you find floating in space.
Probably the one element that is actually kind of unique about Base One is the fact that since it takes place in space you need to provide the environment for every single module inside your station that you would like your workers to regularly access. If you don’t provide a module with oxygen and heat your workers can’t safely enter the room without putting on a spacesuit. This wastes a lot of time and prevents work from getting done. You are better off just taking the time and resources to create a system that will provide the necessary atmosphere to the various modules of the space station. I thought this added an interesting resource management element to the game.
What I enjoyed most about Base One is that the game gives you quite a few options for building your station. The whole station is built on a 2D plane so those looking to build a multi-layered station may be a little disappointed. Otherwise you have quite a bit of leeway on where you place various modules. Each module does need to be in a straight line from at least one other module though as they need to be connected with a walkway. Otherwise you can choose where you place certain modules and what equipment you will put in them. There are various decorative options as well which gives you customization options as well as providing benefits to your workers. The game does a good job giving you a sense of satisfaction when you are able to create a well run station.
Base One mostly consists of two main gameplay modes. There is a custom game mode which is basically the sandbox mode of most games from this genre. Before you start up a custom game you get to set a number of options which mostly alter the difficulty of the game. The area that I mostly checked out was the campaign. The campaign basically follows an early expedition crew that travels through the wormhole and all of the issues that pop up. While the story is kind of basic, I give the game credit for actually trying to craft a story for the campaign.
The problem that many people will have with the campaign though is the fact that in a way it feels like an extended tutorial at least at first. Based on the selection screen the campaign seems to consist of three chapters (with a fourth coming from DLC). Each chapter features around five or so missions. The campaign missions basically consist of the game telling you exactly what you need to do in order to advance. Basically it tells you to build this module, place this machine, hire this type of employee, etc. While you have some leeway on how you build your station, the gameplay mostly revolves around following what the objectives tell you to do. In a way it feels like you are playing through a long tutorial.
This is going to bother some players more than others. People who hate long extended tutorials are likely to be annoyed by this as the game holds your hand for far too long. The whole first chapter is a tutorial and this continues into the second chapter. All you need to do to complete these missions is to do what the tutorial tells you to do. There is no need for you to deviate from the plan. In fact if you deviate from the plan you actually make it harder to complete the mission. While I see the value of a tutorial as the game has quite a few different mechanics, the game moves through the process way too slowly. I honestly think the game could have combined a couple of the earlier missions together into one longer mission as you end up doing the same things over and over again. At least for a lot of the earliest missions, I would just follow the objectives as you don’t really gain anything from straying too far from them. Those who hate tutorials may want to just jump to the custom game to create their own station, but then there might be a learning curve to the game as you have to figure out the game on your own.
Other than the issues with the campaign, the other main issue I had with Base One is that there are some bugs. I am going to preface this with the caveat that I played the game before the final release build. While playing Base One I did encounter a few bugs which did end up impacting the game. The worst was a bug where a worker refused to use a piece of machinery as they ended up getting stuck for some reason. They just kept walking into the machine instead of actually using it. I needed to use this piece of machinery for an objective and the worker refused to work on the machine or let any other workers use it. This ultimately lead to me having to restart that mission. This seems to be an issue with the worker’s AI as they sometimes walk into walls or into each other. Sometimes they find their way out, and other times they just keep walking into the obstacle. Otherwise there were some occasional graphical glitches and some other minor bugs. Hopefully these issues can be fixed soon as they do impact your enjoyment of the game.
Finally I can’t say that I was a big fan of the game’s combat. Basically your station will be periodically be bombarded with asteroids and space pirates. To fight these back one of the modules that you can build has large cannons attached to it. If you can supply it with ammunition, the cannons will shoot missiles at the asteroids and pirates before they can damage the ship. If a part of your ship sustains enough damage it will be destroyed hindering the rest of your station. If your hub is ever destroyed, the game ends immediately. The weapons can either be set to automatic where they will shoot at the nearest target, or you can manually take over and click on targets to have your cannon launch missiles at your chosen targets. I personally felt that this mechanic didn’t really add all that much to the game, and was more of a nuisance. I personally would have rather focused on building a well run station than having to deal with these other distractions.
As for Base One’s length it is really going to depend on the player. I haven’t completed the campaign yet, but as I mentioned earlier it has three chapters with a fourth being available through DLC. Each chapter appears to have around 5-6 missions to complete. The length of each mission will depend on how close you stick to the current objectives. If you just do what the next objective says to do, you should finish the missions quite a bit quicker than if you do your own thing. If you only do what is needed to finish a mission, I would guess most will take around 20-30 minutes. What will really add to the game’s length is the custom game mode. Basically you could spend as much time as you want with the game if you want to keep making new stations designed in different ways or with the objective of making them more efficient. If you generally spend a lot of time with these types of games, I don’t see that being any different in Base One.
Base One for the most part ended up being quite a bit like what I expected from a space station simulation strategy/tycoon game. You build up the station to satisfying the needs of your workers so they can then work to produce products and research. The game plays a lot like most games from this genre with a few outer space twists here and there. The game gives you a lot of leeway in how you build your station and you get a sense of accomplishment for creating a well run station. I was a little disappointed by the campaign as in many ways it kind of feels like an extended tutorial. The game also has some bugs at this point with the worst being the worker AI that occasionally gets stuck and tries to walk through objects or other workers.
My recommendation for Base One comes down to your feelings on the genre and the space station theme. If you don’t care for the genre or theme, I don’t see the game being for you. If the idea of a simulation strategy game where you are tasked with creating a space station sounds interesting, you likely will enjoy Base One and should consider picking it up.
Buy Base One online: Steam
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Pixfroze, Blowfish Studios, and Gamera Game for the review copy of Base One used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.