by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
The Indie Effort
The days that Indie games were synonymous to sub-standard production values are long behind us. The tools and talent available to Indie companies these days are powerful and plentiful and it shows. But for every gem coming from our Indie devs, there is a less than stellar sample as well. I’m sorry to say that this game falls into the latter category.
Gemini Wars is a real time space strategy game in the vein of Homeworld. Mankind has ventured out to space, building many new colonies and spreading out over the galaxy like locusts heralding a new Age of Discovery. Just like the 15th and 16th century, colonies that grow too powerful will want to govern themselves and a number of them declare independence. You, the player, take the role of Cole, a separatist captain tasked to fight Alliance loyalists and bolstering United Space Federation defenses where you can.
Spoken, not stirred
Strangely enough, the game asks you to register before being able to play and thus requires an internet connection. The game’s (wildly unpolished) startup screen will tell you that it is up to date but if you have just installed, it probably is lying. I recommend downloading the patch (pretty much the full game again) prior to playing as any save games will stop working afterwards, they did for me. When you’re done, it is time for your first mission.
Missions start with a fully narrated briefing from your commanding officer. He provides details about the mission at hand along with background information on the war to progress the storyline. After that, you are almost literally dropped onto the mission map where a helpful NPC fills in some of the blanks about controlling the game and achieving the mission goals. While none of the voice-work in Gemini Wars is likely to win any prizes, every other interaction with NPCs in the game uses spoken lines rather than written ones which is a nice touch, especially for an Indie title.
Objectives range from defending a space station to taking over enemy locations and setting up shop for your own side. You can’t build just anywhere, there are set locations such as asteroid fields, planets and other large bodies that are suitable to build on. You can hyper-jump between these points for quick travel, but only if there are no obstructions such as dust clouds or enemy controlled points in between. It is entirely possible to hold and defend a large portion of space from a single location on the map if that location happens to be a choke point between two sections. While not necessarily realistic, it is a concept that adds a layer of strategy that few other space strategy games have and that can result in fun and sometimes challenging situations where fleets bump heads over and over again until one side manages to break through.
No matter what your goals are, you will need resources to build ships and for that you need a mining station and a military station. As the latter cannot be built in the same location as the former, you will need to hold at least two locations. Science stations can be built at the same locations as military stations and can be used to unlock new ship hulls and other technologies. Once you have got everything in place, you can start building up a force large enough to attack enemy positions or defend your own. The wait begins…
Choke points in space may not be realistic but they lead to fun and challenging situations.
Please, don’t make me interact with this game again.