I had waited until Starbound officially came out to look at it - after all, I'm not a big fan of early access products and to have to restart because progress gets erased, things like that. The wait for this Terraria-meets-space game has been a bit long, but the final product is interesting. I can't say that I enjoy it as much as I did Terraria - and it is no secret that I saw pretty much everything in Starbound through this comparison. Maybe if I had infinite time and patience, I would've given more hours to Starbound, but as it is, I think I'm done with it.

Character creation is a bit pointless besides cosmetics, you have to select a race but they don't give any kind of bonuses or faction differences - if there's such a thing in the game - and you can select a difficulty mode. I've picked casual, because what I like in those games is to explore and build things, not to have food management involved. You start the game with a story mission, since Starbound has a plot and quests, much unlike Terraria which was more freeform in how you wanted to get to the end of the game. On one hand, it's good to have a directed adventure, on the other, the main quest was a bit too vague and had me wander aimlessly some planets, never sure where I needed to go, and I didn't like that. I wish the game had been more specific about the route I should've taken.

Much like in Terraria, you mine rocks and mud and chop trees and build houses and things like that using a special tool that you can upgrade. There are also single use pickaxes to help you dig better and they can be useful. Exploration is also like Terraria, where you dig caves and fight creatures, crafting and placing torches along the way. There is a much higher variety of weapons and enemies here I feel, with cool rocket launchers and other projectiles and shields, melee weapons for all play styles. Crafting is done in several different stations that you can upgrade, so you'll need a small camp to house everything. This is where Starbound starts breaking down for me, because you need to explore multiple planets, one base camp isn't enough. you'll need to make one on each planet you visit and either carry all of your crafting stations with you, or rebuild them every time. I wish that crafting systems were carried on your character, or maybe on your ship, and that you could beam resources up/get crafted goods down, or something of the sort.

There are too many items in Starbound. You also get pixels that can be used to buy more - which you lose when you die - but I never found all of this really useful. I guess that in Terraria after a while I was used to the tier lists and I knew which type of weapon/armor set I wanted to use for my character, but since Starbound is a new game, it was very overwhelming. My usual exploration strategy worked - dig a hole to the center of the earth in a small shaft by placing platforms above for a quick retreat - and I managed to advance in the story a bit. I was really surprised to get morph-ball like abilities, fight bosses in a cinematic fashion and get so much unskipable dialogue, but the story is there and it's not too bad, so you have a reason to go around, mining everything you can see.

Moving between planets is a pain and I really didn't enjoy that. Simply having to wait for the ship flying around cutscene each and every time got old really fast. Visiting different planets is fun in theory, but it also got old quick. Some planets have different species living on them and you can do small sidequests that mainly revolve around killing enemies. In Terraria at least, you always were in the same world and you got to know what it looked like, you could explore it all in a reasonable time - even when creating huge worlds - and the progression was self-contained. Here your momentum stops whenever you're done with a planet, and you even feel like you've lost some progress when you get to the next one, it isn't great.

In many ways, Starbound is Terraria done better, there is more variety, more direction and more options on how you want to play, in others, it's not as fun. There's too much room to get lost, too much progress you make that almost gets erased when you move to another planet, too many unskipable scenes. I wish I could've sunk more time into it, but at the fifth planet I visited, I was done building the same home base all over again.

AuthorJérémie Tessier