Stars in Shadowby Mischief Maker. 11/18/2023, 5:36pm PST
I've come to the conclusion in the last few months that I'm never going to "learn" my way into liking Stellaris or Endless Space 2. While I love 4X/RPG hybrids like Thea or Spellforce Conquest of Eo, Stellaris and ES2 just dump a gatorade cooler's worth of disparate quests, mysteries, and storylines on you all at once so that I'm completely lost and unimmersed. And when I decided to ignore the quest firehose and focus on the mechanics, they just do not offer what I want out of a space 4X experience.
So I've been perusing my back-catalogue and Stars in Shadow has stuck out as a truly delightful game.
As you can see, the game has a deliberately cartoony art style that I feel has given it way more longevity than its indie 4X contemporaries like Interstellar Space Genesis. The music is a delightful mix of soothing space chorus and chipper electronic beats. And while some people think the interface is way too blue, that's my favorite color!
The game has a nifty system with population where planets host a variety of biomes, so settling an aquatic race on a temperate planet opens up the oceans for a huge boost to max population and other benefits.
Combat is almost identical to MOO2, just a little bit better.
fabio hated it, of course. But as usual he booted up the game then theory-crafted himself into a corner before he fully understood the mechanics. Optimal planet development is to specialize each world for a specific resource, then activate the output-doubling bonus you can research for each one (unaffected by production or lack thereof).