As promised last week I’m back today with hands on impressions of Satellite Reign. The first thing I can tell you from the initial few hours that I spent in this cyberpunk city is the developers could have called this one Satellite Rain, because it did a lot of that. But all weather puns aside the game has promise if not mass appeal and fans of strategy games will want to pay attention to this one.
Satellite Reign takes place in the not too distant future. There are no intro movies or cut scenes that work as world builders here. The initial setting is an overly large city with a lot of rain and standing water with trash floating in it. Police are no longer properly funded and are subsidized by their corrupt behaviors. Large corporations have also created their own private armies. With a dim atmosphere that has splashes of color and light obscured by the wet urban sprawl this game immediately invokes images of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.
At load up you will create a log in name and then pick your color and faction logo. This is a real time strategy game so as you’d expect there is not much in the way of character creation. I went with green for the color and choose the logo that looks like a cross between “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego” and “Gamespy” (bottom row, second from the left). From there you will be replicated and downloaded into the city and start the game’s tutorial.
The tutorial does a serviceable job of explaining to you how to control your characters and work the camera. I wasn’t impressed with the camera movement. I would like to have been able to move my mouse to the edges of the screen to pan left and right, or up and down. Instead you are required to hold down your middle mouse wheel and drag where you would like to go. While this is functional it did take a little while to get used to. There could be an option to change this in the settings but I didn’t find one.
Like most strategy games cover and concealment are your friend. Satellite Reign quickly imparts this knowledge upon you and shows you ways to avoid detection by foot patrols and rotating cameras line’s of sight. It also teaches you how cover can reduce incoming damage to your team. In addition the game is not all about brute force. You will need to hack computer terminals to open doors and disable defense systems.
Over the course of the intro your team will grow from one foot soldier to a team of 4 members with complementary skills. While they will be able to get all of the basics done between them sometimes there are things they cannot do on their own. For example early on your hacker will not be strong enough to open certain control points so you’ll need to pay an NPC to do the work for you.
The second team member your pick up has access to the world scan ability. This ability allows you to see things you normally couldn’t like underground wires that connect a terminal to a camera a few blocks away. It also allows you to identify people on the street that might have information for you or a skill you can exploit.
There is also more than one way to accomplish missions in this game. To liberate the fourth and final member of your team you have to break him out of jail. You can elect to go into the prison guns blazing busting in the front door or you can bribe one of the under paid members of the police force for information. If you pay off the cop you will find out that there is an underused service entrance for the prison that most guards aren’t even aware of. You’ll still have to avoid detection but you can avoid combat entirely this way. While it will cost you a few dollars it also almost guarantees your success.
Towards the end of my time with the game I went on a mission to find a scientist. This person would help me out with my research abilities. As the game progresses you will find access to certain technologies that improve your team but they take money and time to research. The research happens in real time while you continue to play the game. On my way to locate the scientist I ran out of money due to the research I had commissioned at the tutorials behest. I was able to locate the scientist but was unable to actually pay him to join my team. I also couldn’t find other quests that were readily available that would allow me to earn more money so I hit a bit of a paywall. Okay last joke, promise.
The game makes use of Unity 5 and looks and plays well. It does still have some bugs but the developers have a lot of them identified on their website and are working to squish them. The only real issue I had was the game refused to load on my laptop and had an exceptionally long start up time on my desktop, but once the game was running I didn’t have any technical issues. Satellite Reign is currently listed as in Alpha and available on Steam for $29.99. The game is feature complete but still has place holders for some of the content. Satellite Reign is interesting but nothing about it really grabbed me and compelled me to want to continue to play. If you are a fan of real time strategy games this is one to keep an eye on when it does become content complete later this year. Until then you would probably be better served playing a game that is already released.