Recently, I’ve asked people if they were interested in writing a guestpost on Indiecator, and alas we’ve got yet another review today here written by Naithin from Time to Loot. The game featured here, Dyson Sphere Program, is a lovely factorio-like game where you set out on a journey to create the ultimate intergalactic factory in space. I just recently played some of it myself and have really been enjoying it but as Naithin’s more into the whole genre, you should maybe listen to what he has to say about the game. If you enjoyed this post, make sure to check out Naithin’s blog for more posts on all kinds games from RPGs to MMOs to Looter Shooters and even gaming-related topics like new trailers, interesting up-coming games, or Humble Choice. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may know that Naithin’s a big inspiration of mine and that I really like his blog, posts and the events that he likes to plan or participate in. My series on the Humble Choice of each month is inspired by him as well, so there’s that, too. I highly recommend checking out his blog!
Anyways, I hope you enjoy Naithin’s review:
Dyson Sphere Program has thrown down the gauntlet to Factorio and entered the ring with a select few other titles I consider to be part of the ‘Factorio-like’ genre. A genre that now ranges from the medieval with Factory Town through to the far-flung reaches of sci-fi space with this entry.
Developer: Youthcat Studio Publisher: Gamera Game Genre: Sci-Fi, Space, Automation, Base-Building, Simulation, Strategy, Management Release Date: January 21st, 2021 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC Copy was purchased.
Despite the technological era — these games have a number of features incoming. The defining one perhaps being to solve the puzzle of bringing the ever-increasing material and component pieces together in the right places to automate the production of yet more things.
The risk is in getting lost and overwhelmed by the bigger picture. Particularly if you let the ruthless pursuit of efficiency be your guiding principle. I felt this starting out in Dyson Sphere Program. It is just so easy to get carried away by seeing the experts play and how they think about and approach the game.
The problem with that is you’ll hit a wall — likely sooner than later — and just stop. My first try at the game ended in exactly that way. I was already thinking several steps down the track to the automation of product manufacture that I wasn’t anywhere near yet. In response, my brain flipped me the double-bird and shut-off.
Where Dyson Sphere Program perhaps excels over Factorio — although this will of course be a matter of taste, I would argue it as a positive particularly for those looking to make a start in the genre — is that no given factory by necessity has to be overly large. The fact you can ultimately separate functions by planet and use interplanetary logistics systems to ship what you need around the place is a Godsend for making things perfectly playable in more manageable bite-sized chunks. What that means is, as I alluded to way back in the introduction, is that you can treat the game as a series of mini-puzzles. Small challenges to be met as and when they make sense for you to do so.
And I highly recommend approaching the game this way. Setting yourself mini-goals. Work toward the production of just one more thing at a time. It will become a spaghetti scramble your first time through.
But it doesn’t matter. Even if you work yourself into a corner — here’s the thing:
You are never penalised for building ‘wrong’. You can uplift any structure, conveyor belt, sorter, or anything else and be just… Yoink it into your inventory. Generally, with no materials lost either — the exception here being fluid storage. If you need to move a fluid storage container around, you will lose it’s contents, unfortunately.
But here’s the other thing. There’s also no time pressure beyond what you bring with you. You won’t lose for having a low APM. Nothing is going to explode. So, if it’s a fluid you’ve had difficulty storing, you can — if you wish — choose to drain it out to a new site before moving the original container.
You have time.
What I’m trying to get across here is that Dyson Sphere Program can be played without any stress. It is in fact quite a peaceful, chill game to play. But only with the understanding that nothing bad will happen if you slow down. I don’t think the game conveys that very well. So I hope to do it for it, for your benefit.
If it isn’t clear yet — I’ve really enjoyed my time with Dyson Sphere Program, and it’s an easy recommend to anyone who either enjoys the Factorio-like genre already or those who just like puzzle games. For genre veterans, the expansive interstellar scope is something you just won’t get in any of the other genre offerings to date. The ability to send logistics drones across the dark void of space to meet the supply and demand of your earlier bases is fantastic.
All this is supported by the research tree you might be familiar with from these games, opening up new materials or componentry or best of all — new logistics options! But on top of that, there is also a set of upgrades specific to your mech — your avatar in the game — ranging from the basics like faster movement speed or bigger inventory to increased construction drone capacity to varying levels of flight and more.
So! Don’t let the Early Access label scare you off. Dyson Sphere Program is one of the more complete Early Access titles I’ve seen. If I was to quibble about anything it would be the New Player Onboarding process (aka, the tutorial). Which is a giant shame given the potential appeal Dyson Sphere Program could have in bringing new players to the genre. The tutorial right now is… lacking, to say the least. The guided play portion is incredibly brief with the remainder being largely presented via the occasional pop-up pointing you at the game’s in-built encyclopaedia. Which to be fair — isn’t bad by any stretch. It just isn’t the most welcoming thing ever for a new player to deal with. Normally in this case, particularly for a game with this potential for complexity I would say — watch Let’s Plays to learn. And I think I still will offer that advice. Just… Don’t forget what I told you here today. Don’t let any optimisation considerations from others shape your own concerns while playing.
Just take it at your own pace and enjoy.
Editor’s Note: Magi here, again. Personally speaking I also really enjoyed DSP and can also recommend it. As Naithin mentions, there isn’t really a wrong way of doing things in the game. You can get away with a lot of things and I love that there’s no pressure in it, especially as someone that likes to optimize things in these types of games. Really glad to be able to feature Naithin over here. Can’t recommend his blog enough! Check him out!
Hope you enjoyed this post! Got any thoughts on DSP or the guest post format? Let me know!