Starbound - Analysis

Author: Gustavo Maeso
Date: 2020-07-30 22:52:46
We usually tend to associate 'indie' with simplicity. That is, the vast majority of players, due to the price or concept, we think, a priori, that an independent video game is a kind of 'low-cost' entertainment that cannot be - or should be - required too much. This weak argument is usually corroborated in many cases, however, in others the opposite occurs, as has happened with the recent No Man's Sky and the present title: Starbound.


And there is no financial limit for originality and talent - we refer, in this case, to Starbound. The Chucklefish Games masterpiece is a good example of this. It is true that we are not facing a precisely novice study, but neither are we facing a team backed by large firms such as Ubisoft or Sony. So this is a factor that we must take into account when playing or analyzing Starbound.

The project started sometime in 2011 and was officially announced in early 2012 , so we are talking about an independent video game with more than five years of work behind it. Through an interesting Kickstarter campaign , Starbound was increasingly supported by the community and began to generate a lot of attention from the press and the public. An early version was released in 2013 , but it was in the wake of Hello Games' controversial No Man's Sky presentation that the Chucklefish title started to generate more buzz. The public inevitably began to compare both titles, since they had and have many points in common.


In these cases comparisons are inevitable . Firstly, because Starbound was definitively launched on July 22 of this year and No Man's Sky only a few days later, on August 9 . Secondly, because both share a common theme : space and its "infinity". Thirdly, because the two titles make use of a similar technology that allows them to generate scenarios at random, making each game completely different from another. And, lastly, because they have generated a lot of expectation or 'hype' -a word that is lately in fashion-, leaving no one indifferent at its launch.

At first glance, looking at one and the other, we can think that Starbound is an aperitif before launching into the vast universe proposed by the guys from Hello Games. Although this is something completely personal, something that will depend on each player, I must ensure that the first statement is not correct at all because Starbound, with all its greatness, is an appetizer, first course, second and dessert. To underestimate the Chucklefish game based on its technical section and / or little publicity would be a sovereign mistake, because behind its simple pixels hides an immense procedural, logical and harmonious universe that deserves to be taken into account.

Going into the matter, once again we cannot avoid the comparison. When we start Starbound or see a screenshot of it, Terraria will quickly come to mind (Re-Logic, 2011), and that is that Starbound shares a lot with Terraria. Graphically we can be talking about two almost identical video games, with all that this entails. In the first place because, despite the effort invested in Starbound, at first glance it is a copy rather than a tribute and it is evident that the 'pixel-art' begins to give significant symptoms of exhaustion , despite the fact that the game is in the making sometime in 2011.

But on the other hand, Starbound has its own personality, after all. The design of characters and objects, despite being very basic pixels , falls in love from the first moment we launch the game and the design of planets, carried out in a random way, is quite convincing . In fact, one of the benefits of Starbound is precisely that the planets have a life of their own and, in almost no time, anything squeaks on us. Everything is harmonious and we do not feel at any time being lost in a procedural loop without a life of its own.

But, aside from all this, it is clear that Starbound is not a technical marvel . We are aware of the development and financing that the title has had, but, as I mentioned at the beginning, the 'pixel-art' begins to tire and it is not the first time that I say it. The games that make use of this technical-artistic section are played without control and it seems more like a plague than a fashion. In addition, this leads us, unconsciously, to fall into the error of considering them simple games, Starbound or titles like Dwarf Fortress (Tarn Adams, 2006) are good proof of this. The problem is that the entire title is developed in a 2D side scroll that, in addition to its pixelated artistic section, excessively limits the greatness that is hidden behind it .

Still, despite having his own personality in terms of character or object design and history, Starbound is overly reminiscent of Terraria and that is something that works against him on a technical and artistic level, for two main reasons; the first of these is obviously what we might call a copy; and the second is because we are talking about a title of the year 2011 compared to another that was officially launched in 2016.

At the sound level, a wonderful musical universe opens up to us. The soundtrack , composed by Curtis Scheitzer , fits in perfectly achieving a unique setting. The symbiosis is as perfect as it was in its day in the case of Mass Effect with the music of Jack Wall and Sam Hulick, enveloping us in the peaceful and at the same time cold outer space. The sound effects are generic, although they are simple, they do their job and at no time do they squeak. The title does not have voices of any kind and it should be noted that it is not subtitled in Spanish , only localized in English. Luckily for us, and it is something that must be mentioned, the user kantos22 has immersed himself in a Spanish translation that we can already enjoy through Steam Worshop ; It is true that it needs some adjustment, but it is perfectly enjoyable and valid.