“We Earth men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things.” – R. Bradbury
“I think I have ruined this colossal space station just by selling the wrong things.” – Emine Ö.
(Written co-op with Erdil Kapucu)
StellarHub is a space station simulation in which you take the role of a captain with an important mission: We are to build new homes for humans in outer space (not the humans already exist in outer space, but the humans who are looking for an exit from the already rotten earth –E) Since the burden is heavy and I am an anxious person, the games that belong to this genre have the ability to stress me more than anything. So, this is not only a review, but also the story of how I started to enjoy building/management games.
Yes, StellarHub is a starbase management game by Casualogic, and it features survival elements along with it, like Banished or their casual cousin, Fallout Shelter. Building a starbase is no easy job, but making people happy is the most difficult task on earth –and clearly, in space.
Check the gameplay out:
Build and extend your station
The game starts with a training section which takes a really long time to complete –but do not skip it, for it gives detailed information about the gameplay. If you follow the introductions, I believe you won’t have any problems while building your station or controlling it (unless you got hit by multiple asteroids or get frustrated by the fact that the training does not let you touch anything but the icons it wants you to click –E). After the training, you will be able to choose which system you’ll be building a starbase. These systems have different parameters which basically work like difficulty settings: Map size, solar activity, flying asteroids, pirate activity, etc. If you roam about a lazy star which has a lot of enthusiastic pirates; you’ll have a very, very difficult time.
I think it is time to explain the last sentence:
- Solar activity: If the zone you’ll build your space station has a little solar activity, your station will lack the power coming from those beautiful solar panels.
- Flying asteroids: More flying objects, more possibility of hull damage. Click-clank.
- Pirate activity: Well, it is basic. Pirates come, demand money. If you give away, they come back for more, and if you don’t, you better have strong defenses. I lost my fresh colony because of some anxious pirates.
- Crew skill level: If low, here come the headaches.
- Trade ships & Tourists: Money.
We begin with only a hub and the Captain. The game warns you at some points that you need to build more modules in order to collect oxygen so your crew can breathe, collect solar energy so your modules can work, add crew quarters so your crew can rest, add research labs so you can research and improve the base, add medical bay so your crew can get vaccines, add a party bay in which your crew can drop the bass easily, clear the last one, and so on. There are 30 different modules to choose from and each of them are necessary for your survival. When you are done with the essential modules, you must start adding the parts which will protect you from meteors and other ships and the ones which will improve your base and let you create a livelier environment.
Placing the modules are easy enough, but each will cost you some money. At the beginning, you will start with enough money to go on, but with every module added, your crew will get bigger. And this is a problem we will talk about later.
When placing the modules, you may want to consider the movements of your crew and spaces between them. Some modules cannot be placed everywhere, for example, you need to place the oxygen stations close to oxygen clouds. The same goes for the solar panels and if you can take a minute and watch your base from the distance, you can see where you can build these or not. You can also view the inside and outside of your base any time you like.
A closed-circuit system where everybody’s dying
While you are building your starbase as the Captain, you will need to expand your crew. A big base means lots of work to do. With every module, come new crew members, as we’ve said.
Scientists, cleaners, builders, cargo carriers, medics, operators and the list goes on. Every crew member has unique characteristics which means not everybody is suitable for every job. If your member is a lazy person, you must not assign him/her as a builder or some work which needs speed and action. Every crew member also has personal professional traits and you need to combine their characteristics with their traits while selecting a
slave worker for the right occupation.
An obvious tip: Never delay the R&D opportunities. Hire intelligent people and start progressing in your research tree as quick as you can.
Anyway. When you click on a person, you will also see the current situation he/she is in. Health, moral, mentality, oxygen and such bars will show you how they feel and if they can keep working or need a rest. You can also see if they are sick or wounded, thus you can direct them to medical bay and save their lives. If they are tired or bored of working, you can tell them to drop the work, so they can have some time for themselves.
The hardest part in management games shows itself quick: The base gets crowded and crowded, and you need more and more modules to sustain a peaceful and healthy workspace. In it very basis, the algorithm works like this: In order to add and build modules, you need more workers and builders. After choosing the module from the menu, you add it to your base. After doing that, some workers need to carry some boxes to this module and some builders will follow them in order to build it. So, you always need workers and builders. You can trade with other ships and hire some more crew, but it will cost you money. If you need money, you need to sell something and if you sell too much, you won’t have the necessary items to build new modules. And once one of the important modules decides not to work, your whole system may collapse.
Once, I sold too many items with a blank state of mind and comprehended my mistake too late. First, the storage went off. When I realized that I had no workers to carry, nor supplies to be carried where they needed, my other modules started to break down. At the same time, my crew started to get sick. One by one, they collapsed. It was strange though, only one cleaner was extremely happy since she got all the raise she wanted. Not after a long period of time, they were all dead. My whole crew. It was not an alien attack or something. It was me. My misjudgment ended their lives and only the greedy cleaner survived my unfair regime.
This is the point where you must pay attention all the time. How many workers do you need at hand? How many researchers and how many builders you need? Is the food enough? Do you have enough vaccines? Enough beds? Because, these people will not leave their luxuries behind. They all need to rest, eat, work, breathe and have some fun. Speaking of fun, you must always keep an eye on everyone since some may be idle at some points. We cannot have idle people, no sir! This ain’t no place for a laziness. Always check their personality before hiring. If they are lazy, they will cost less, but they will work slowly.
Well, the sight is to see. Strangely not using the Unreal Engine 4, StellarHub manages to create simple but beautiful visuals to guide our painful pursuit of happiness. Music is not stellar in technical terms but in terms of context, it can be counted as stellar. Or “space music”, I don’t know. It is space-y and it is good. Sound effects or graphical effects, they are just enough of what we expect from a game like this. Not much, no less. However, you won’t be thinking about them while your supplies run dry and panic runs amok between your desperate crew, that I can guarantee.
In general, the game worked fluidly for me. There are some complaints about random crashes and AI bugs, but I never encountered them.
Forgive me father for I have sinned
Is this a review or a confession? Well, why not both? Maybe I was the only one who can save those people. They were away from home, working so hard to make it happen. And because I couldn’t realize that I assigned wrong people to wrong jobs, they are all stardust (or spacetrash –E) now. Anyway, I’ll build another starbase and start over. In a system not so far away, full of pirates and asteroids, just to spice the game up. Because, you know, I am starting to like these games.
Do not expect stories possible to happen in Rimworld or Banished, but do not underestimate this game like Fallout Shelter either. StellarHub seems to have found the median point of these games, and we think it did good, very good.
StellarHub was reviewed using a Steam key provided by the publisher.
StellarHub is a great example for those who are interested in management sims. It's hard, and becomes very hard if you select the worst conditions, but it is always rewarding to see the little smileys while clicking through your beloved space station.
- Realistically difficult
- Neat visuals & soothing sounds
- Can be a starter game for the people who are not familiar with the genre, user friendly
- AI gets confused sometimes
- Random crashes on some machines
- Lack of a story
- Training is too long