Some of the greatest stories ever told were kicked off by a planet exploding. This usually results in a child having extraordinary powers, traveling across the galaxy towards our planet to fulfil their destiny – more stories should start this way in my opinion. However, OESE – A Space Survival Game from Milo Games, formerly Cloudburst, is a space survival simulation game that looks more at the journey, rather than the destination, in which you take charge of the only ship to survive the blast, as it travels through the darkness of space.
During your journey, you will avoid hazards, make tactical decisions, and maintain your ship, in its journey to find a new home planet. Because every choice you make, could get you a step closer to this objective, or your unequivocal extinction. There are a lot of factors that will determine whether or not you are successful in your expedition. As you navigate through the vacuum of space, you’ll need to maintain your crew, power, and shields.
This can be achieved in a few ways, but initially, it will be how quickly you can level up the different attributes of your ship, thus improving your offensive tactics, diplomacy between the warring factions, and the development of your shields. You do this by assigning your crew to each department of your ship. This will improve the stats that influence the outcome of the various obstacles you’ll encounter. So, levelling these up fast is imperative to your survival.
You need coordinates in order to get to your new home. These are attained by growing your relationships with at least three of the other factions in the galaxy. Once a maximum level of ten is achieved, then it’s time to power up your warp drive and shoot off at light speed towards your destination. But this is not so easy. While you work towards this goal, other deterrents such as toll gates, mysterious diamond trees, and NOX cubes, will be the bane of your existence. The game can get intense when you’re so close to getting the last coordinate, only to lose two hundred crew or all your shields to this giant resource consuming mechanical terror.
With each encounter, you get three different options for dealing with these hurdles. Choosing the offensive course of action, a missile will be fired towards whatever is in your path. Taking this option can net you some power, which you’ll need if you aspire to make it through to the end. The passive approach allows for a more peaceful route and generally avoids any hostility. You can gain repairs to your ship this way. And contacting allows communication with the opposing barrier, sometimes it’s a planet or other ships, in which you can trade for crew. You should never be comfortable with any of your choices. As the distinct factors can change the outcome of any decision at any time.
As you level up each area of your ship, you gain access to a few abilities to help further your journey. These take time to charge but can be vital to your survival, especially when those blasted NOX cubes, literally ‘knock’ you down a peg or two. Being away from whatever apparatus you sit on while gaming, could mean you’re losing valuable charging time for these abilities. Sometimes they will switch off on their own, so it’s best to keep an eye on it often. The most recent update added the ability to construct drills to mine planets for power. This is a good innovation, as it removed the charging option that was there before, and adds a bit more to the strategy.
None of this is immediately clear from the outset, it is all trial and error, but it doesn’t take long to understand how to survive in the cold recesses of space. Early on you will be followed by a robot called Milo, who also managed to survive the blast and gives you subtle hints about how to find your new home. Milo’s energy will begin to fade as you travel further out. The prospect of losing your little buddy is mildly heart wrenching to watch. Just before it can give you a nickname, the talking gadget eventually drifts away into the unknown. You must find a way to save Milo!
There are two options of play for OESE, normal mode, and true mode. I advise you to start with normal mode, to get an understanding of the overall mechanics and outcomes you will need to memorise in order to complete the true mode. It is the more difficult of the two, which brings on the dreaded NOX cubes far earlier than normal, among other challenges.
Also featured in the recent update is the ability to change the colour of your hub. Although, the original green was fine, changing to a cooler colour like blue or white, is a welcome addition. Which leads me to the overall graphics. The pixel art is quite excellent, you can change the look of your ship at any time, and what few animations there are, work well. Sometimes the wrong decision when facing off against a Rubik’s cube in the middle of space could randomise your ships appearance, to very moderate annoyance. The game has very quiet and ominous sound effects and music. Most encounters have their own unique sounds, and the explosion of your ship is frustrating enough to want to throw your speakers out the window.
In conclusion, I really enjoy this game and find myself coming back to it often. It is simple but complex. I’d like to see the option of changing the ship’s exterior restricted to before the planet explodes and you begin the game. The reason for this is it adds nothing to the gameplay being able to change it on the fly. However, if a small bonus or perk was added to each section of the ship, it would add another element of strategy to this space survival simulation. It would also be nice to see your shields and their deterioration, and some ship damage would be a plus too. I’d say if you like survival sims then give it a go, but remember, you haven’t truly completed OESE until you have rescued Milo. Now, it’s time to figure out how to deal with these mysterious diamond trees.
You can find OESE on Steam right now. Give it a go and let us know what you think.
Tim Pearce is a freelance journalist and contributor to PN2. Go say hi on Facebook via MeatBaitMedia!