SuperSpaceDungeonDelve: StarCrawlers Early Access

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I’ve more or less kicked (slight pun intended) my crowdfunding habit, particularly when it comes to computer games. The eager excitement of the campaign leads to ennui as update after update tells a sad story of delays and curtailed features, and by and large, you wind up paying more (and far earlier) for the finished product than the person who buys it when it releases. Sure, you’re supporting projects you ostensibly believe in, but the economics don’t always make sense.

So I’m pleased when games I backed, back in the day, come to fruition more or less on time and more or less feature complete. Take, for instance, StarCrawlers, by Juggernaut Games, a first-person, party-based space dungeon crawl game that just entered the Early Access phase on Steam. Some features are missing, the story is barely there, and there are balance issues, but I have to say it looks quite promising for an Early Access game.

Robots stand between you and loot.

You control a party of up to four space scavengers, chosen from a wide array of classes, all of whom level up and gear up through missions. You maneuver in first person, with a real-time interactive environment, but once foes are encountered (and there are a lot of them), you switch to a turn-based combat system not unlike the computer role playing games of yore. There’s no positioning to speak of; combatants take turns attacking, with each action costing an amount of time that places the combatant in a turn order. One powerful action could see your combatant placed at the far end of the turn order, with combatants who take faster actions attacking several times in the interim. The classes all have different passive and active abilities, and finding synergies between the classes plays an important role. The Solider, for instance, can taunt enemies, taking blows that would otherwise affect characters who can dish out the damage but can’t take it.

More robots stand between you and more loot. There are a lot of robots in this game.

The gameplay isn’t absurdly deep, being mostly a move/fight/loot loop, but it’s fulfilling in short bursts and ticks off the appropriately addictive loot acquisition and character development boxes. Too, it’s rare to see the dungeon crawl model applied to a futuristic setting, making StarCrawlers all the more appealing. Once Juggernaut Games fills out the storyline—for the most part, the missions seem to be procedurally generated—and adds a bit more polish, the game is going to be a keeper. For what I paid (and it wasn’t much), StarCrawlers gleams as a gem in the sea of crowdfunded dross.

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