Starbound – Awkward First Impressions

My first steps into an 8-bit final frontier.

Starbound – Awkward First Impressions

I recently started playing the indie game Starbound, which is available through Steam Early Access. Let’s explore some planets together.

Starbound is an 8 bit indie title from Chucklefish Games. In the game you take the role of an alien (or human) who’s in a ship, which has run out of fuel just above an unknown planet. Beam down to the planet to find supplies, fuel for your ship, and other adventures. Once you get going, travel to other, procedurally generated planets and continue to explore, survive, and build.

Getting Started

My experience with Starbound is very brief so far. You start by creating your character, and for an 8-bit game, there is a ton of customization options. Six different races, including Humans, an Android type called Glitch, and others. All kinds of different hair styles, skin colors, clothing options and colors. It may just be a few pixels different, but it’s really cool how many options there are.

Starbound character creation

Character Creation Screen

Once you start out in your ship, there’s a few starter quests to get your going and learning the basics, but after you beam down to the planet and go through a few of them, you’re pretty much on your own.

The game is a great big sandbox. I’d call it a 2-d Minecraft, with a sci-fi twist. I’ve heard the game compared to Terraria, but I’ve never played that so I can’t make that comparison myself. Most of the planet based action seems to consist of exploring caves, combating strange alien life forms, mining resources, and constructing tools and later, structures. I haven’t gotten to the structures part yet.

Starbound fire owl

An owl, that breathes fire!

Not all creatures are hostile, in fact my experience was quite deceiving. I kept finding creatures that looked all mean and spikey, and they wouldn’t pay any attention to me. Then I see something that looks like a normal Earth owl flying above me, before it starts BREATHING FIRE ON MY FACE!

I’ve also run into friendly NPC’s, like an Avian that had a nice little home and bed. He was apparently fine to let me crash at his place and heal up a bit. Though he was kinda insistent about keeping his doors closed. I can’t say I blame him on that point really.

Check out the video of my first steps into Starbound!

Where I Have A Problem

The more I’ve thought about it, there’s one thing that bugs me about this game. There’s this whole sci-fi theme to it, I start out on a spaceship, there’s alien planets and all that. And yet, Once I beam down to the planet, what am I doing? I’m cutting down trees, making crafting tables, making a stone furnace, smelting iron and copper in said furnace. Creating primitive coal / wood torches. All that seem very “un-sci-fi” to me.

I get that the idea is to build myself up from almost nothing, but at the same time, I’ve got this great space ship sitting in orbit that I can beam back to at any time! Why am I screwing around with torches, I should have some kind of “photonic amplification module” or something. Something more in tune with the setting I think.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I very much enjoyed my introduction to Starbound, and I plan to come back to it for more in the future. I was having a lot of fun, and I know there’s more to figure out in this vast game universe.

Note: Awkward First Impressions will be a new series on Awkward Geeks going forward. The idea is when we try out a new game, we get a few hours gameplay in, then write up our first impressions of that game. Since it’s completely dependent on getting new games, this will not be a regularly scheduled series, just one that comes out as time and money permits.

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