The summer is nearly over, school starts within the next few weeks, if not already, and the days will become shorter and cooler. Escape the inevitable fall decline by launching yourself into space to manage your own colony with StellarHub from Casualogic.
StellarHub is a new space strategy/simulation game where you manage your own space station. In the vein of most simulators, you must manage personnel, materials, and other resources to keep your employees and occasional tourists happy. A unique twist on the genre is the need to also keep said personnel breathing with working O2 generators, structurally sound with properly maintained pressure hulls, managing space plague, and other minor things such as ensuring they have a place to eat and sleep aboard the station. Various random events such as meteor storms, malfunctioning equipment, and even the occasional incompetent employee serve to keep the captain on his or her toes.
The backstory of the game is that resources on Earth at the end of the 22nd century are nearly depleted and humanity must build space colonies to survive. The range of the game’s hyperdrive is 50 light years, so the player can pick a large variety of environments to set up their space station and build their trading empire. Once in a system, the player can build specific modules that harvest gas clouds for O2, metals for building more station modules, and other resources necessary for the maintenance of the station. Be sure to build some defences, as space stations can be easy pickings for pirates!
The game has several modes of difficulty, from the easy levels where all new crew members are labeled as “professionals” and are pre-assigned a career. This is incredibly important, as at the higher difficulty levels one can assign a worker a role that they are wholly unqualified to perform. While for some jobs this may not be so bad, other jobs such as technician can result in the destruction of the entire station. Certainly, a crew member assigned to the medical field when all they can do is carry supplies around the station will not end well.
To increase the interest of the player, over 30 modules are currently in the game to create a unique space station. There are several categories of module types, from the utility of sleeping quarters and a crew mess to specialty modules like a science station to research more advanced modules or increase the relative efficiency of tasks like harvesting oxygen. When a module is build, a worker is usually automatically assigned to the module to perform a task like healing sick employees. As they perform these tasks, the worker will gain skills and gradually become more adept at their task. This can be especially critical when a worker needs to patch a bad module before everyone dies of decompression.
The game includes time compression, which is nice as after a while watching a worker slowly move materials from the central hub to the new module becomes exceptionally boring after the first module is built. The pause button is critical for catching a worker to check on their status, as they move too quickly to catch most of the time. Once on a worker, the health and happiness levels can be checked. An unhappy worker needs a place like a lounge to unwind, a sleepy worker needs a bunk, and a hungry worker needs a crew mess. A nifty feature is that a tired worker will sleep on the floor if there are not bunks available, and their efficiency is reduced as a result.
Overall, the game is enjoyable as a simulation game with a shallow learning curve that can be easily played for several hours without the frustrations encountered by some of the more complex games available. The creators publish regular updates to the title to fix any bugs that may come up, as two updates came out during the review process.
StellaHub is available now on Steampowered.com for the Windows operating system, at a very reasonable $8.99 USD. With the novelty of the space theme, shallow learning curve, and price this game receives an 8/10 for an enjoyable casual space simulation.