Game Review: Empyrion - Galactic Survival

Complexity is the Name of the Game.

September 18, 2020

Empyrion - Galactic Survival Header Image

Empyrion - Galactic Survival is a 3D open world space sandbox survival adventure. Build powerful ships, mighty space stations and vast planetary settlements to explore, conquer or exploit a variety of different planets and discover the mysteries of Empyrion!

If you’re looking for a TL:DR: game is fun but has some challenges.

The first time I opened the map to see all the different systems we could visit I was basically sold on the game. The first time we made our system hop, we almost got trapped in hellscape and had a blast trying to get off that planet.

Empyrion - Galactic Survival is - well - a Survival Game that adds the idea of different planets and systems to explore instead of simply other towns or woods or whatever that splotch over that hill is. What’s nice about it was as you explore the menus, it gives you something to plan for while trying to build up some semblance of safety where you are. As you scroll out, there are hundreds of systems to explore with their own rings of planets and moons and asteroid fields - which really is the allure of this game. I want to float around the Galaxy and do stupid things.

Out of the gate, there are lots of geometries to play with when building bases or anything else which is a nice change from other Survival games where you’re kind of stuck with a few pre-defined structures. Sadly, the internal structure of the actual block shape wont impact where you can actually place anything since you’re still locked into a cubic construction system. This does make a good number of the more interesting shapes rather impractical to try and use on anything you build.

The plethora of pieces to care about makes navigating and management challenging. Finding out just how to build your first actual base was annoying until you realize that you need a core or a starter block to build off anything. Different blocks are tied to different kinds of structures which are denoted by the initials HV,CV,SV,BA which are just not explained. You’re going to be reading the descriptions of the stuff you build; you’re going to have to just about all the time because you’re going to miss important details. My mistake was not realizing that shields will require a Pentaxid to fuel them and there is no warning about this until the shields don’t work - except the last line in the text. A better idea maybe would have been that you don’t have any shields until you’ve actually fed your Vessel Pentaxid and therefore you’ll be forced to realize this. There is a good amount of finding out the hard way.

Likewise, there are lots of small stats and management that goes into a base which make sense but just don’t feel intuitive at all. I know that I need power and to do that I need something which makes power but I don’t know anything about Solar Panel rates from looking at the device before construction; there is no real way to optimize buildings or make decisions about if I want something until I’ve made it and realized that I either don’t need it yet or it’s missing necessary components. The Solar Panels need a Capacitor else they’re really not much use once the sun is down - and the base doesn’t store anything. Explore the Control Panel as soon as you can.

Contrary to some complaints, the combat isn’t bad for a Survival game and fights in space have been pretty fun. Having my friend float around in a tuned Small Vessel hecking out resources in Zirax controlled space to avoid pulling us into a space fight with our starter Capital Vessel only to be discovered by a wandering drone led to quite the episode of us coordinating his docking while everything in the system came to murder us escaping with a queue’d up lock to a different system for just such an emergency is why this game has been fun. The complaints about being outgunned are certainly true though. The Defense Station that sits just outside the atmosphere is a space graveyard of failed attempts to kick it out of the orbit. After building a prototype to try and kill the thing, I point-blanked it with 6 pulse Lasers 49 times before it finally blew apart my small vessel and I lost. The AI for the enemies in the game is certainly questionable too. I’ve watched as three factions of different types mingle with one another as if they’re not even aware of each other until I am taking shots at them and then they’re all after me like there is some pact to murder non-NPCs in the Galaxy on sight.

All in all, I’m not regretting buying it and it’s probably my favorite current Survival game. I think that the criticisms are pretty fair though; the game is very ambitious and they haven’t delivered yet but the platform is there so long as they’re continuing to diligently add the pieces patch by patch I’ll keep playing it. Complicated but promising.