VoidExpanse Review

Star fluff.

My faction's commander gave me a special weapon for destroying alien hives in a single shot, but it wouldn't fit in my ship. I left it in my inventory for later use, but at some point in my travels, it disappeared (perhaps I sold it by mistake?), and I could not find a way to retrieve a new one. The contact that had given it to me had nothing more to say, and none of the stations I visited sold such a weapon. So I was left to my own devices, slowly whittling down hives while accompanied by a useless companion that could fend off attacking aliens and space pirates, but could do no damage to the hive itself. I spent a half-dozen hours hammering away at these things, laboriously zooming back and forth between alien systems and bases where I could refuel and refill ammunition. After a while, I could finally afford a better hull, and I presumed my path to victory--a path without the disappearing superweapon--would be clearer.

Instead, my new fighter made things worse by allowing me to only equip weapon types with limited ammo reserves. I wasted precious minutes flying to a base seven systems away so that I could reload, only to return to the alien system and find the hive had gained back all of its health. It was here that VoidExpanse and I parted ways after 25 hours of spacefaring tedium and shallow questing, and I can't say I'll miss repeating the same four side missions over and over again.

Well, there's one bounty earned.
Well, there's one bounty earned.

It didn't have to be this way; it never does. VoidExpanse is built from a proven foundation, recalling every space sim in which you crisscross the galaxy, buying low and selling high. In VoidExpanse's case, this all occurs on a 2D plane upon which you zoom from one space station to another, mining minerals from asteroids and shooting down space pirates along the way. With each accomplishment, you earn not only money but experience, which you then apply to skills that improve your flight agility, open access to new weapons, and enhance your financial standing.

2D plane aside, this is Freelancer, or DarkStar One, or X3: Reunion, a game that encourages you to find your inner Han Solo, gaining funds by performing odd jobs, aligning yourself with a faction, and destroying whatever enemies stand in your way. Those games built adventures around these basic systems; VoidExpanse, on the other hand, rarely expounds upon the fundamentals. You do odd jobs for your chosen faction so that you can join its ranks, and at least those tasks mix things up a little. You even get choices to make, potentially befriending or alienating a contact depending on how successful you are at hacking a terminal, or convincing a pesky pirate to leave his enemy alone instead of firing on him at first glance.

Here's a space station. There's not really more to say.
Here's a space station. There's not really more to say.

The rare story-based diversion is not enough to brighten up the dreary pace that soon develops, however. VoidExpanse recycles the same few missions over and over again: Mine some minerals, deliver this package, kill this pirate, rescue these survivors. This is the steady diet of quests you feast upon if you have any hope for forward progress, unless you prefer to ferry supplies and the spoils of random enemy encounters from one system to another, seeking the highest possible prices. Trading is a common activity in space exploration games, but the lack of visual variety squashes exploration flat. Backdrops are generically pretty displays of green and purple nebulae stretching across starfields, and space vessels lack the drama of pop culture's most iconic craft; They are built for function, apparently, and not for form. But it is form that such a repetitive game needs to thrive, and what starts as a fun but formulaic adventure grows tiresome.

Combat is functional, at least, and supports two different control schemes, one of which allows you to drive the ship with the mouse, and the other of which separates aiming and movement. It is the latter scheme that affords finer control, and there is inherent appeal at hovering your targeting reticule over a pirate or an alien pod, launching missiles at it, and watching it explode. Alien ships are particularly mobile, so while most encounters aren't demanding unless you wander into systems you shouldn't be exploring yet, some battles keep you circling and reward precise aiming.

No Caption Provided
The skill tree is easy to understand.
The skill tree is easy to understand.

The main reason to press forward is to earn more currency and more experience, leaving behind your paltry vessel and starter gadgets for a more powerful and roomy ship. There are slots for weapons, shields, engines, and so forth, along with places to equip consumables (good for a resupply of hull strength, for instance) and boosters (good for, say, improving your defenses or supporting your energy supply). But all the incremental improvements represented by ship advancement and skill choices are at the service of repetitive sights, repetitive travel, and repetitive actions. In time, the few spots of joy are overwhelmed by the annoyances, such as the suicidal way the companion you later earn keeps ramming into alien hives until he explodes, and an autopilot that sometimes steers around obstacles, and other times bounces your ship against asteroids and space stations.

Galaxies are procedurally generated--and you can join other players' galaxies in online play--but those options bring little diversity to VoidExpanse. In the case of galaxies, the variables have too little effect on the pace of exploration to be meaningful; In the case of online play, the community is too small to make multiplayer worth investigating. Going online means following the same path you would if you played on your own, except you might encounter another player to shoot or ignore. In fact, VoidExpanse is toothless in general, lacking the mystery and suspense that could have propelled it through the universe.

The Good
Some fun combat encounters
Skill tree and ship upgrades provide a proper sense of progression
The Bad
Utterly lacking in variety
Glitches and strange AI behavior
Bland looks, bland exploration, bland missions
4
Poor
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd has explored space (digitally) more times than he can count. He played VoidExpanse for a couple dozen hours. He finds this byline almost as boring as he found VoidExpanse.
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straightcur

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Played it once and forgot I owned a copy. That's how forgettable it was.

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lizzard2

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I enjoyed it and played throu the "story" . I went with the lasers instead of ammo weapons since they are unlimited ammo "energy". Why did't you put on some lasers on your ship instead of jumping back and forth refilling ammo all the time ??. I also lost the hive weapon but i destroyd everyting in sight in seconds with my rank 3 lasers so ...

You can also refuel with merchants flying around , they are in every system so no need to jump back to stations to refuel either. I tried the multiplayer for a bit also but seems totaly poinless to me .

I played it for around 20 hours or so , it was ok game pretty fun. Sorry for my spelling errors.



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SuppaPHly42

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@lizzard2: hmmm that makes me think maybe you are suppose to lose it and the dev just forgot to write why :P

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yeknomdab

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@xxacceptancexx: Learning English can be a challenge, even for native speakers, I suppose. Seriously--Hooked On Phonics may just work for you.

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yeknomdab

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@yeknomdab: ...either that, or set the phone down, and pick up a book.

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ratchet500000

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@xxacceptancexx: lol Another "console exclusive" fanboy that's never played the Total War series, Arma 3, or StarCraft.

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Dragon_Nexus

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@ratchet500000@xxacceptancexx: Wouldn't want to because those games suck and are for nerds LOL CONSOLE MASTER RACE.

...am I doing it right?

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SuppaPHly42

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@xxacceptancexx: really? you are easily amused then. i bet most people had never even heard of this game until now ( i know i didn't ) there was no hype for this so it scoring poor mean nothing


i think i see a goat crossing your bridge

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XxAcceptanceXx

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@suppaphly42@xxacceptancexx: the score os this game and the score for dungeons 2 seriously made my week seeing steam games fail give me goosebumps

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SuppaPHly42

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@xxacceptancexx@suppaphly42: why though what do you have against steam or is it the PC platform you don't like?

if the latter think man. its just a chosen platform to game on it don't affect you in anyway. do feel pain or suffer physical injury from a successful game on that platform? no i doubt that very much and if you do it is self inflicted.

to get off the way you do from the failure of others that you don't know personally is sad (however i take a certain amount of sick pleasure, form people i know who i don't like, failing. :P)

maybe you should think about the indie devs who made the game do you think they are happy that something they put time into is now looked at as poor, it will affect there ability to make money. do you go around kicking b.ums, who pan handle in the street.

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RogerioFM

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@suppaphly42@xxacceptancexx: lol, he's a tr0ll man, nevermind him, he's been posting this crap at every review.

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SuppaPHly42

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@RogerioFM@suppaphly42@xxacceptancexx: yes i know but sometime i like to try anyway i do realize it is an exercise in futility :P

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RogerioFM

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@suppaphly42@RogerioFM@suppaphly42: I mean, his user name is acceptance. It's actually pretty funny given his comments.

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SuppaPHly42

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@RogerioFM@suppaphly42@RogerioFM: yes rather hypocritical i would say lol

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RogerioFM

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@suppaphly42@RogerioFM@suppaphly42: I would say it's his only good joke. lol

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SuppaPHly42

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@RogerioFM@suppaphly42@RogerioFM: lmao that was good hey i heard a joke the other day you may like. so my buddy says to this chick i'm wearing a new after shave its call, "come to me" *she takes a sniff* he says "does it smell like c.um to you"

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RogerioFM

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@suppaphly42@RogerioFM@suppaphly42: rolf.


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XxAcceptanceXx

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@suppaphly42@xxacceptancexx: lol so many word computer boy bet you have steam installed at home lol

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SuppaPHly42

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@xxacceptancexx@suppaphly42: so few words from you lol

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SuppaPHly42

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funny the user reviews on steam says mostly positive. i wonder if KoV would have liked it more if he had just restarted, so the "superweapon" was not lost to him?

i guess the devs have hopes the modding community will make great things for this one, only time will tell.

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XxAcceptanceXx

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@suppaphly42: what a surprise a steam fanboy is lying on steam im shocked for one

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SuppaPHly42

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@xxacceptancexx@suppaphly42: what am i lying about? 201 reviews mostly positive as of now

please don't call me a fanboy. did i ever say to anyone that steam is the best and they should think so too. no i never have and never will

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XxAcceptanceXx

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@suppaphly42@xxacceptancexx: lol 201 pc computer fanboys spinnig a terrible game way to go liars

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Kevin-V

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@suppaphly42: Steam user reviews are a lot like Metacritic and Amazon reviews, in the sense that a strong-willed community can destroy or make a game in ways that may or may not represent the overall quality. That's not to say that user reviews can't be useful, but I can't count the number of awful, broken games (most in early access) overwhelmed with positive reviews on Steam. That makes it hard to sift through the chaff, particularly when there are frequent organized efforts to discredit a game, or conversely, to upvote a game, by developers and fan communities.


That isn't to say that I am "right," though I stand behind my analysis, of course--only that when human beings are involved, systems can be manipulated, making it hard to find a collective voice you can rely on. As always, filter what you read through your own tastes and experiences. If you filter this review of VoidExpanse through your own feelings, for instance, you may find its appeal where I did not. For movies, I often find a few critics I rely on, because I know they look for things that are important to me. For games, that can be good too, and sometimes, it can be a user you relate to on Steam, or Metacritic, or GameSpot, or IGN, or wherever; doesn't need to be some paid yahoo like me.


I do wish I had liked this game more than I did, though. Even if I remove the issue with the lost weapon, the game is so barebones and lacking that I grew bored. I often enjoy returning to Freelancer, Starlancer, and X3, for instance. Of course, a 2D game won't check all the same boxes, but there wasn't any energy or mystery, just those same four quests and same few enemy types, repeated forever. Yet I can see someone making this a chillout game, the kind of thing where you load it up, run a few errands, and watch TV while the autopilot takes you between stations.

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Glic2K

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@Kevin-V:

Damned right. Kevin, you are one of the most consistent, accurate and insightful reviewers I've ever read. Please keep doing exactly what you do. You are a true game critic, and I love that about your reviews.

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SuppaPHly42

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@Kevin-V@suppaphly42: cool thanks for the reply :)

the complaint most often cited in the user review was, the game feels like it should be in early access and is nowhere near done. also the devs themselves said, on steam, they have big plans for the future of the game. if that is so they should have left it in early access stage till it had more guts to it

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ArunabhaGoswami

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@suppaphly42: I too was thinking that perhaps he was being a little too harsh on the game. I'll wait till some more reviews show up on metacritic.

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Karmazyn

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as good as Resident Evil 6 than, nice. / even screenshots are boring. bleeee.

VoidExpanse More Info

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  • First Released Apr 2, 2015
    released
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    VoidExpanse is a science fiction, top-down action role-playing game set in outer space.
    8.5
    Average Rating2 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate VoidExpanse
    Developed by:
    AtomicTorch
    Published by:
    AtomicTorch
    Genre(s):
    Action, Role-Playing