The dream of flying through desolate space for spices and minerals is the weirdest thing we’ve been obsessing about for decades. My own journey began with Microsoft’s ambitious Freelancer and continued on to Spore’s galactic stage. Many other games, of course, tried to make open-ended space exploration fun with varying degrees of success. This is why I’m excited to take a look at yet another (early access) attempt at our dream of space spice in this ΔV: Rings of Saturn review.
What’s Going On Here?
ΔV: Rings of Saturn is an odd game with a familiar premise. You control an asteroid excavator ship and try to make bank zapping space rocks for precious minerals. At the base level, it’s your good old reliable space exploration game. However, minutes in you’ll discover there is so much more to it.
The focus in ΔV: Rings of Saturn is not so much the space encounters and the magic of space. Ring, mine, sell at the station, repeat is what you’ll be doing for the most part. The occasional accidents, pirate encounters, and emergencies keep it fresh at all times. But during all that, it’s the mechanics that make the game fun.
Where do we start? The game is unbelievably nerdy. I was not prepared for a challenge moving my ship around or managing my engines and equipment. But here I was, and there was still a lot to learn. The game touts itself as a hard SciFi game, and I don’t disagree. For everything that is in the game, there is depth and realism in it. I couldn’t zoom around asteroid showers at lightspeed like in all my favorite space exploration games. Yes, it’s a game, but you still have to respect the laws of physics.
ΔV: Rings of Saturn Review: It Makes Shooting Rocks Fun
There is a lot going right with ΔV: Rings of Saturn. But, let’s start at the beginning. In mere minutes you’ll be thrust into space with the challenge of controlling your ship – and believe me, it’s a challenge. Whether you move your ship using the autopilot system or do it manually, the physics system makes it extremely satisfying to maneuver space. Combined with a decent not-too-hands-on tutorial, the start of the game is critical in keeping you in to learn the other even more complex mechanics.
And speaking of great mechanics, managing your subsystems, ship, and crew has got to be one of the more fun aspects of the game. Again, everything here is extremely detailed and deep. But, in an open-ended game like this running out of things to learn and do is practically a death sentence for your fun. Every time I went back to sell “loot” and upgrade my ship and crew, I couldn’t help but go for just-one-more run. I had to see my new gear and crew in action after all.
All in all, if you’re willing to learn the ropes, the game will give you plenty in reward. ΔV: Rings of Saturn rewards geeky inquisitiveness by giving you more mechanics to learn. Whether this is for you or not is up to you, but it surely accomplishes what it sets out to do.
But There Is Something Missing
After you’ve managed to learn everything, however, you’re still left alone in the dead of space. The game is deep yes, but it does not have as much content as I’d hoped. After maneuvering the mechanics while narrowly evading frustration, all you’re met with is a concrete wall.
In my playtime of a little over 6 hours, I learned most of what I had to learn. I had a crew, I blew up the biggest asteroid I’d ever seen, and my ship was the Ferrari of miner spaceships. Seeing that my progress at that point was all about arbitrary achievements I made to entertain myself, the just-one-more feeling started to wear.
Additionally, forgettable NPC encounters make the fun come to a halt a good while before it should. It’s exciting the first time around since you don’t see anyone else for a while. But, after you get used to it, you’ll probably try to avoid any NPCs.
It is important to point out that the game is still is in early access. Lack of content is to be expected. The developers are doing their best and constantly listening to feedback. However, unless you are a huge fan of space exploration games and the vast nothingness that comes with them, you might end up as I did.
Extremely satisfying and precise control will help you get around ΔV: Rings of Saturn’s tough mechanics without feeling it. As you build up your business, crew, and equipment you will feel a sense of accomplishment that keeps you trying for more.
It ends too soon, however, and after a while there will be no point to playing. If you’re looking for NPCs to extend your gameplay, you’ll be disappointed.
ΔV: Rings of Saturn is a great game if you’re looking to geek over space ships and reminisce about old school games. It will give you a great run over the weekend, but after that it will probably gather metaphorical dust in your Steam library. Definitely get this game if you’re big into space exploration, it won’t disappoint.