Like Planetary Annihilation, Blackspace is a real-time strategy game that focuses on extraterrestrial mining and warfare. Unlike Planetary Annihilation, the focus is more on mining than the warfare bit. The entire preview of it resembles a more aggressive version of Minecraft—although instead of focusing on building, you focus entirely on staying alive. Despite insisting that the graphics are stand-in, the whole game looks beautiful at the moment. Even the cube-shaped enemies have their own charm (and apparently the developers plan on keeping them—awesome!).
Although its black-and-white preview image might first invoke a bleak game that relies on simple graphics, the actual game has incredibly detailed graphics (even if the graphic assets are currently placeholders). When you mine or shoot, the pieces of the ground shred individually, and the hundreds of enemies that swarm the base are each their own entity. The programming behind this must be very hefty and deal with a huge amount of entities, so hopefully a lot of that funding will go into optimization. The developers even specify that the game will run better on an Nvidea graphics card, although AMD support is in the works.
Graphics and presentation aside, the gameplay looks smooth and streamlined. Unlike many of the other RTS games on the market, each element of the game is easy to understand and works as expected. When you mine and find new elements, you use a tether to manually carry it to a warehouse. You place and build using resources and your tether, and you move around using WASD-controlled jetpacks. The controls look incredibly intuitive, and combined with the good presentation, it should be easy to get into the game.
The game has the same general goal as tower defense games: build your tower, secure it, and then defend it. Blackspace incorporates a lot of the RTS genre into the game through the use of automated mining machines. It also provides enemies that spawn on the same asteroid or planet above crucial mining elements. The enemies can also mine, and they use the objects that they mine to build their own units and attack you. Although I said I was done talking about graphics, the way they use lighting to show where each enemy is and where they are coming from is impressive and incredibly aesthetic.
The amount of effort that has already gone into the making of Blackspace is impressive. Most of the programming is already finished, and they need funding primarily for their art assets (which already look beautiful, but hey, if they need it). Although a significant amount of gameplay was shown, it’s difficult to critique anything in particular. While we saw the game’s basics, we still have no idea how often the enemies spawn—if done incorrectly, the game could quickly become more annoying than fun. We don’t know how long the asteroid will last or what happens when you ‘win’ the game. We do know that it will be compatible with the Rift, so it should be a very immersive experience. In any case, I’m actually more excited about this game than a similar Kickstarter game, Planetary Annihilation. It looks exciting and much more hands-on. If you enjoy RTS games or even just tower defense, feel free to donate to the cause. They still have a long way to go before they can deliver this wonderful game!