Conquer the the vast empty void and lead your celestial fleet into victory.
Devouring Stars is a real-time strategy game developed by Nerial which combines the thrill of strategic playing with mesmerizing art. In Devouring Stars, you control entities going through Tartarus, a place as far beneath hell as heaven is high above earth, while trying to survive the attacks from hostile tribes. To fend yourselves from the attacks, you must go to the starfields and gather stars that will protect your entities and attack your enemies as well. The more stars you collect, the stronger your entities will be against your enemies, but being big isn’t the only way to win against them. Strategize and plan your attacks or fuse your entities into much stronger entities which have their own abilities that you can use to your advantage. In each level, your goal is to reach the next portal by either decimating your enemies or avoiding a confrontation.
The gameplay of Devouring Stars is pretty much straightforward: lead, harvest, and destroy. You start off with two basic kinds of entities. Your first order of business is to gather stars by leading your entities to go through starfields that are scattered across the map like space clouds. Entities have the ability to harvest stars from these starfields and turn them into their own fighters or what is known as a part of their nebula. These harvested stars would then circle around each of your entities and serve as both your entities’ defense and offense. Keep in mind that since this is an RTS game, your enemy is also simultaneously establishing its forces.
Entities, both yours and the enemies’, have their own field of attack which, when crossed by two opposing entities, will trigger the stars from both sides to clash. The entity which “outstarred” their enemy will be the victor and the losing entity will be destroyed. For example, your entity gathered 250 stars while your opponent gathered only 150 stars, you have that amount of stars to dish out against your opponent’s. The skirmish would leave a mess of stars from the fight itself and from the defeated entity which can then be reharvested by other entities. You can back off a skirmish by ordering an entity to back away from the enemy and the enemy can do so, too. Entities can also be ordered to channel their stars towards an engaged ally to boost their defense as well as their offense, as long as they are within range. Entities can attack a single target at once or one entity can attack an enemy while being supported by its allies. They can also flank an enemy, effectively cutting its defenses into half.
In several instances, entities must be fused to turn the tide of the battle in your favor. Fusing two specific entities will come up with a stronger entity. The entity classes are unique in terms of their speed, harvesting rate, and their own abilities. The fusion can also be undone to reacquire your entities. It is up to your strategy whether or not to win the battle by brute strength or by sheer numbers.
The versatility and freedom to execute several strategies is what makes Devouring Stars a great RTS game. You can confront the enemies early on while they are still weak enough or harvest stars as many and as quickly as you can to prevent your enemies from getting stronger. Or, on some levels, you can let the different tribes kill each other off while you stealthily head towards the exit portal. You can rely on these strategies and on many others to ensure your success in this game.
The battlefield in which the action happens in Devouring Stars is the vast, cold, and dark space which is illuminated by these clouds of stars. At the start of every level, all seems to be peaceful and calm until the first encounter happens and space turns into this lively colorful battlefield. The minimalist design of Devouring Stars is its charm and it is wonderfully simple. Players can focus on playing the game but they can sometimes find themselves just looking at the display of lights. The fluidity of the particles (the individual stars) is what makes it all pretty to look at. Along the way, players will encounter levels that are seemingly calm which focuses more on the narratives that would add up in telling the story behind the war among the tribes. Devouring Stars also has this nice calming soundtrack which is a great contrast to the games intense gameplay.
The AI present in Devouring Stars has the right mix of being aggressively offensive and defensive. Although there are cases where enemy entities stop being aggressive and just roam around the map once their tribe leader is killed off.
One thing that the players might have a hard time dealing with is the controls. In all RTS games, the controls are very essential as it may make or break a player’s game. All the controls are done only with the mouse. There are controls that are shared by crucial commands, making it feel like it is overloaded. There are also instances wherein commands such as multi-selecting entities get unresponsive which would often disrupt the execution of your strategies. New players might find the controls a bit counter-intuitive, hence it might make completing a level very tricky and frustrating.
Devouring Stars is still on Early Access and is still a bit buggy on some of its aspects such as in portal activation where you have to do several passes just to activate it. There are also typos still present in the game, although they are just minor ones. Despite those things that just need a little bit more polishing, Devouring Stars still is a remarkable strategy game. As mentioned before, the versatility and openness of the game is quite a plus factor for players who are into heavy strategic gaming that is more on action and without the intrinsic unit management. Devouring Stars is definitely a game I could recommend for other players to try.
This review is based off a copy provided by Nerial.