[PULSAR: Lost Colony] The 5 Hour Mission

Price as of Writing: $25.00

PULSAR: Lost Colony is a 5 Player Coop First Person Starship Bridge Simulator developed by Leafy Games. There are 5 roles, Captain, Pilot, Weapons Officer, Chief Engineer, and Science Officer. Everyone can do everyone else’s job, excluding the captain’s job, but with lesser ability. This allows for groups of 2-4 people to fully control a ship. The game also has AI, which allows a player to play alone with an AI crew or a small group to fill the rest of their crew slots. The captain has the ability to control the priorities of the AI crew members. The AI is one of the weakest parts of the game, being very limited in their scopes. I usually set the pilot priorities to man weapons turrets and repair systems while I pilot the ship. The Science Officer is not that helpful, but they sometimes use programs, but beyond that not much else. The weapons officer does not fire rockets, but is fairly well-built. The Engineer has trouble managing the heat sometimes, but is otherwise also well-built. 252870_2015-12-01_00007The pathing for all AI can start to break during combat, leading them to shoot at doors and run against walls. As it stands, only the captain can plot Warp Jumps or access the ship stores.

PULSAR also allows you to board enemy ships, capture enemy ships, beam down to planets and stations, and use cyber-warfare against the enemies. When beaming down to planets with hostile atmospheres and ships with destroyed life support, there are Exo-Suits that protect you from the environment. 252870_2015-12-01_00009The Captain can give orders to the AI, plot jumps, and buy from space stores. The Pilot pilots the ship and lines up jumps. The Weapons Officer can fire missiles, the main gun, secondary guns, and nukes. The Chief Engineer controls the warp core, controls core temperature, controls power management, puts out fires, and repairs damaged systems. The Science Officer controls the shields, deploys viruses, activates anti-viruses, uses boosts, and does sector scans. After battles and other successful events, you will gain experience that you can spend to level up your character, which are several class specific skills.

There are close to a hundred different modules that you can attach and use for your ship, including rail guns, armor, jump drives, computer programs, and other ship essentials. There are currently 5 starter ships, ranging from a small frigates to heavy warships. 252870_2015-12-01_00004Most of the story content is not in the game yet, but there are a few missions to keep you sated or you could just take your ship and go exploring.   The gameplay mainly consists of you and your crew battling enemies, running around the ship repairing systems & putting out fires, beaming down to planets, and upgrading the ship to match your enemies, which appear to scale with your experience. 252870_2015-12-01_00006The art style of the game is nice and flow well, but there are issues with bad textures and the character models are not that great.

The game is not amazingly optimized, but it should work for most systems. It is available on Windows, OSX, and Linux. The gameplay can get repetitive if you are not interested in the game, but it is mostly about the shared experiences with your crew rather than gameplay elements. The game is set in a sprawling galaxy that has 2 main warring factions, the W.D. Corporation and the Colonial Union. There are also infected sectors which have noxious clouds that damage your ship. The audio can be a bit tinny and there are issues with it “breaking” and looping, but the sounds themselves work well and don’t feel out of place.

The developers have a roadmap on their site and they are somewhat active, releasing video devlogs and updates every few weeks. PULSAR uses a cloud gaming service called Photon Cloud, which sometimes has network issues, but the developers want to use their own system, which would allow for LAN play as well.

 

Graphics: 6/10

The ship models are great and the general textures are good enough, but there are some texture stretching and player model issues that need to be addressed

Gameplay: 7/10

The gameplay is still being worked on, but the core systems are there and can provide a fun enough experience for a group of friends. The Multiplayer service, Photon Cloud, can sometimes have outages, but they are working towards their own system later down the line.

AI: 4/10

The enemy ship AI is very good, leading to great space battles, but AI crew logic still needs a lot of work.

Content: 8/10

There is a fair amount to explore and a lot of upgrades to add to your ships. This allows you to create memorable stories with your friends.

Setting: 5/10

The setting for the galaxy is well thought out, but without the core story, it feels empty and without context.

Audio: 6/10

There are abundant audio issues that need to be addressed soon, but besides that, the sounds fit the atmosphere.

Promise: 7/10

Although Leafy Games does maintain a roadmap & devlog, their update schedule is somewhat slower than others. The dates for the last 5 updates are 10/28/15, 10/23/15, 10/21/15, 09/30/15, and 09/26/15.

Total: 6/10

I personally love PULSAR: Lost Colony, but I can easily see how these issues could put people off. I have had fun with my friends, but it can get difficult and it is missing core story components.

 

OS Windows, Mac Linux
Single Player Yes
Competitive Multiplayer No
Co-Op Yes (2-5)
Price $24.99
Rating on Steam 95%

Disclaimers: I DID NOT receive a key from the developers. This review is based on the build published on 10/28/15.

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