Stellar Tactics is a strategy RPG, top down, sci-fi game. The player wakes up on a starship travelling towards a planet for repopulation, to uncover the facts that lead up to being woken up early.
For any RPG, stats are critical, for which there are an abundance. At the start of a new game you assign stats and skills. Stats affect your overall character (strength, agility, dexterity, etc.) and bleed over into improving health and ability skills (i.e. increased weapon damage). Skills cover weapons and special abilities (i.e. medkits and hacking tools) to improve the efficiency in using such skills.
On starting a new game I was dazzled by the amount of character options put before me. After the initial confusion I slowly and carefully considered the starting stats and skills for my main character. Then, I realized I had to do the same process three more times for the accompanying party members. It was an exercise in being meticulous, assigning points in a staggering selection. Several hours later, I found out I wasted my time for the three of the party members for reasons I will not spoil.
Your team will level up through combat. Each time they level up you assign points to the base stats. As for skills, they increase as they’re used. For those unaware of stats, an increase in stats means an improvement in that stat and any associated secondary stats. E.g. If you want to improve efficiency in the shotgun skill, you need to use the shotgun to improve that skill.
Sound effects are used to present a reasonable atmosphere and fit well enough with the sci-fi theme. Character voice overs, which are used to present one liners when leveling up or scoring critical hits on enemies, are cheesy at best. Later on you come across giant alien spiders who screech harshly, detracting from the audio quality.
You use the mouse to move your team, as a whole or individually in real time. Combat can be initiated manually at any time, by a quick click on the action toolbar, or automatically when in close proximity to an enemy. Combat is turn based with the order dependent on a stat, which can be confusing when determining who is up next.
You can target different body parts depending on the enemy type, i.e. head, body, legs, etc. Each limb has a varying hit chance. The percentage to hit is buggy at present. You can select a different weapon while still hovering the cursor over a limb without the hit chance changing. This could lead to you taking a 0% chance of hitting when the UI is telling you otherwise. There is a combat log which details damage taken, given and misses. Though combat may be bugged, I’ve taken many shots in the plus 80s which appear to have missed their mark and are not logged. The shots are taken but not acknowledged by the game.
Each action takes up action points from a pool available to each individual party member. Points are consumed by firing your weapons, moving, turning to face another direction, etc.
Combat felt uninspiring and prolonged, leaving me feeling bored throughout each encounter. I had little joy from playing through the prologue and had to push myself hard to get through the first two levels.
The first two levels ended with a boss encounter. When facing both I had to run away or be swarmed by a group of enemies and have my team eliminated. Running away and picking off pursuing enemies felt like the only valid tactic available. This resulted in a slow and prolonged engagement where I felt constantly on the back foot of the engagement. The second boss fight felt more difficult. By luring the main boss I was able to kill its minions as it chased one of my party members around the level. It felt as luck prevailed in defeating this second boss, rather than the skill of my party.
Blood spills out of characters when they are hit without splashing onto the scenery. There is no swearing. Violence is against infected humans (turned zombies?), giant alien spiders and normal humans.
This is Early Access. The solo developer is aware of the difficulty surrounding the first level and is currently focused on adding new content. For the moment, the opening stage won’t be changed anytime soon despite its high difficulty. As it is, by the time I got to the spaceship (something which the community has much praise about) I had lost any further interest in continuing the journey. No matter what new mechanics it may bring.
It its current state I would recommend most gamers wait and see how the development of the game progresses. If you are a hardcore RPG gamer then you’d probably get more enjoyment than I did and would be worth checking out.