Bitksel - Space Craze: ASTROX

on 2018-03-25

More space games! This time I'm writing about a very simple yet addicting spaceship game called ASTROX: Hostile Space Excavation. I really enjoyed this game and it's getting a sequel soon!

ASTROX is a space simulation game where you can mine, haul, do missions and of course shoot pirates. You start the game in a dinky little ship out in the butt of space, and the only way now is up. You must gather resources to buy better ships, upgrade them and make a name for yourself. It is rather simple on paper, but that is what makes the game so addictive. If you have ever played EVE Online, this game is a bit like EVE-lite.

First when you launch the game, you are allowed to modify the rules for your universe. Every play session can be as different or similar as you want and I love it when games let you tweak settings extensively. Everything from starting spaceship to universe size and pirate aggression can be tweaked.


After setting up your universe settings and choosing your characters face (there's just a few premade face images), it's time to play.

[gallery ids="399,404,398" type="rectangular"]

There's no real story or anything, but you're being told that you're a prisoner that is working for some entity to gain freedom. However I like to think that I have a different story every time, from bounty hunter to miner and so on. It's sandbox game, so do whatever you wish!

The UI is really simple and has the basic functions stated very clearly. Most of the time you are controlling your ship with autopilot, but you can use WASD to move your ship aswell, even though it feels a bit too sensitive. You can also fly from first person view, however it can get disorienting. Unfortunately in first person view you don't see your cockpit or anything like that, which is something I require from all the space sims I like to play.

Usually at beginning, it's good idea just to mine away. Dock to a station, buy a better cargohold, then fill it with ore and sell it all. Repeat this until you have money for a better ship, because the scout ship you get at the beginning is not very good for really anything.

Mining is simple activity, you just target an asteroid, activate your mining lasers and.. Wait. You can also purchase mining drones and better mining lasers to accelerate the process.

[gallery ids="401,402,403" type="rectangular"]

In stations, you can sell and buy things at the market, refine or sell your ore, buy ships, accept missions, modify your ship and you know, the basic station stuff. The UI is very simplistic and clear, so it's not hard to navigate around the menus. One thing to remember is to every so often level up your characters skills in the universities found around stations. The skills can cost a lot of money, but upgrading them will be worthwhile. I recommend getting reduce fuel usage -skills at first, since otherwise you can get a nice fast ship, but run out of fuel quickly.

[caption id="attachment_400" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]astrox_2018-03-25_20-58-19 You can see your characters skills and achievements in the character menu[/caption]

Which brings us to the spaceship mechanics. Your ship has hull health, shield health, power and fuel. Shield protects your hull, if your hull explodes you are dead, power is used for modules and fuel is used by engines. If you run out of fuel, your engines will use power instead. In my older saves (which I lost because my computer went potato) I had a ship that ran really quick out of fuel, but could keep power at max for long time even when firing your weapons and using power as your fuel. So yes, you can do bit of trickery with different ship outfits and modifications. It's as fun as it sounds! Also some ships turn faster than others and your ships modules can affect that.

[gallery ids="409,405,406" type="rectangular"]

Then there's combat. The ship aims for you, all you have to do is to activate your weapons, select your enemy and get close enough. Monitor your power though, it can run out quickly, depending on your modules. There's three kinds of weapons: laser, projectile and missiles. Laser don't need ammo, but they can eat a lot of power. Projectile weapons eat barely any power, but they use ammo. And missiles are, well, missiles. Bigger ships can also use drones to fight other ships.

Most fights are easy (depending on your settings of course), however if you stray into some corner of space that is full of pirates, you may get annihilated in seconds. I love that. It adds so much danger and excitement to the game. Be careful where you jump.

[caption id="attachment_407" align="alignnone" width="1920"]astrox_2018-03-25_21-03-29 System map[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_408" align="alignnone" width="1920"]astrox_2018-03-25_21-03-43 Universe map, every universe is a bit different, depending on your settings[/caption]

System and universe maps are opened by just zooming out. System map is really just real time view of everything in the system, the game just slaps icons on ships and other things to make them more clearer from far away. If you zoom even further out, you get the universe map. I kinda like this kind of map system, because it shows you all you need and very quickly too, just one scroll away. I would like it to be a bit more "flashier" though, maybe have different background when you have zoomed out, like something more computer-y.

All in all, everything seems pretty self explanatory, right? The game isn't difficult to learn at all, but it has it's own quirks and knickknacks you will learn during play. It's not a big game, nor best simulation ever with the most realistic physics, but it doesn't try to be that either. It just simulates the life of spaceship captain and it does it well. Sure the graphics look like from 2005, but to me that's part of the charm. The sound effects and music remind me of late 90's and early 2000's space games, and it has it's own great atmosphere. I'm sure this game would also work well on older PC's too.

What really blows my mind is that all of this has been greated by just one dude, Jace Masula. And now he is creating a sequel for this game. I can't wait to get to try it, since there's been so many improvements. In his Youtube channel, you can find devlogs about the newest game. Hats off to you Jace, hope to create something as cool as you have someday!

ASTROX does exactly what it says on the tin, and I enjoy it a lot. It's a very relaxing space game and I like to play it when I don't feel like playing EVE. ;) I recommend this game for anyone who likes EVE and/or just wants a simple spaceship game. You can get it from Steam for only 10€ and I think the pricing is spot on.

Thanks for reading and fly safely! Or dangerously, if that's what you prefer.. ;)