There are two different modes in the game. Extinction Mode is the game’s hard mode, and it is done in a way that if you fail a mission three times, then you won’t be able to continue. There’s no significant difference between this and normal mode, except that you get to see how your diplomatic choices in dialogue affect you, and they will allow you to take multiple attempts on missions. One of the features that I found frustrating was that in both modes it’s impossible to do a quick-save of your progress if you need to leave the game for any reason. You need to complete your mission to have the progress saved, and considering the lengths of some of the missions, I found it rather frustrating.
The graphics seemed to fluctuate. In the cutscenes they looked remarkable, and even on the kill-cam they smoothly flowed and really had a cinematic effect. But the game itself has some rather simple graphics otherwise, with the characters and their battles being set out in a similar manner to a board game. This doesn’t actually detract from the experience, however, or I feel that it wouldn’t work on less powerful PCs.
When you’re fighting enemies, you have a certain number of moves in each turn, and your surroundings are constantly changing. It’s impossible to stay in one place for each turn as your location is constantly at risk – especially with blockades having a limited lifespan before they are destroyed. It is an easy game to play with simple controls. Due to it not being in real-time, you can take your time to come up with a plan for your characters who all have a variety of different abilities. This means you can spend your time strategising due to each character having only two actions per turn, one to move and one where you can attack or use one of your abilities.
It’s a fairly unique twist to the sci-fi genre. Many games I’ve played will focus more on alien species in fictional planets than work on the premise of humans moving into space. In a way, I’m glad that it relied on humanity’s war with one another rather than inventing a new race to go to war with Earth. Overall, it’s surprisingly down to earth, which I appreciated. Despite this, it sticks to the genre in other aspects, with some of the designs appearing to be similar to other games with minor differences.
One feature I wouldn’t say I’m completely sold on is the dialogue between characters who are presumably already friends. As Captain Christopher Pietham, you have a friendship with Jun Zhyao and Rafael Gurrero, but it is rarely acknowledged at the beginning. You’re the captain of the ship, but in no way does it sound like any of the characters have a relationship to one another. You’re called “Rookie” by Jun Zhyao, but there’s no indicator of why you are called that, other than that you’re the player of the game. However, there’s no way for the characters to know that. It feels forced, and with you presumably being a captain, even if you haven’t known your crew for long, they would have still heard of you. Furthermore, even if you lose a member of your crew permanently, it doesn’t really have an effect on your character. You simply move on, never mentioning them again.
Overall, I would say that Element: Space has a lot of potential from what I’ve seen from Early Access. As a first game from Sixth Vowel, they’ve done a lot of things well. The graphics are good for a variety of different computers, and you can find yourself losing yourself in the game for hours. However, I do feel if you want to have a quick game, then I wouldn’t recommend this game as you can’t just drop and save if you need to leave the game for any reason.
Developer: Sixth Vowel
Publisher: Inca Games
Release Date: Q1 2019