Colony Ship was released in November 2023 and the version i am reviewing here is the 1.0.6 from Steam.
As always, I'll try to stay objective… BIG Fan of Iron Tower Studios games since Age of Decadence !
COLONY SHIP SYNOPSIS
Colony Ship is the third and latest game from Iron Tower Studios.
First of all Colony Ship is not a game for everyone… I would even say that games from Iron Tower Studios in general are not for the average casual player ! The Studio is well known to have created tactical rpgs which will mainly attract old school players 😅
The game is hard as you're NO Hero, you're just a guy with skills… And any enemies you will encounter will have the very same skills and chances to kill you ! That means you'll have to be smarter than the competition if you want to survive.
That Said, Colony Ship is as the name says it… A Colony Ship which was sent from Earth, in times of nuclear war, to colonize a distant planet. So there is life among this huge ship, people live and die on it, as of course space travel can take many decades.
You're one guy like any other living on this ship, you're not a Hero as said above… you're just a low life living in the worst part of the ship… But in spite of this, you will be soon playing an important role for the future of the ship, and for all the people living on it!
You can decide to play it the Social way or the Violent way… or a Mix of both ! 😉 The interest of Iron Tower Studios games lies not only in their difficulty, but also in the fact that a Smooth Talker can complete the game as much as a Bloody Psychopath 🤣
COLONY SHIP HARDCORE TACTICAL RPG REVIEW
If you're not familiar with Iron Tower Studio, they have developped 2 games before Colony Ship.
First was The Age of Decadence, A hardcore tactical RPG critically acclaimed on Steam, and like Colony Ship a game where there were several ways to complete it. And then Dungeon Rats which was a Dungeon Crawler, kind of rogue like in the same “Roman” universe. Both games were made in an “Old School” style with a difficulty like in the 80's !
In these games you're not supposed to be a Super Hero, so not supposed to win every fight by just rushing in like in other role playing games, where you are so powerful that you can literally destroy everything in your path 😅 And between you and me, such games become boring after a while because there is no challenge anymore…
So in Iron Tower Studio games there are sometimes battles, which are either optional and / or seem impossible… But there is always a way in the end to either make it more easy, talk your way out, or turn it to your advantage.
Colony Ship Tactical Puzzle Rpg ?
Tactical Puzzle RPG is a term to define those games where, if you want to make the best out of a mission… Meaning if you want to accomplish all the secondary objectives, gain more experience from it, you have to place your team in a certain way and move to specific spots during the entire duration of the mission 😋
A perfect example of Tactical Puzzle Rpg would be Druidstone ! A game developped by the makers of the famous Dungeon crawlers Legend of Grimrock 1 and Grimrock 2, honoring the memory of the 80's Dungeon Master.
And regarding Iron Tower Studio games, the “puzzle” throughout their entire games, is to try to get the most experience out of any situations, in order to increase a maximum of your skills. Like as an example a situation somewhere, where you could talk your way out if you have a Streetwise skill of 3… But unfortunately you only have 2, and you're not close to leveling… So you could just pass the situation without gaining any extra experience…
Or ! You avoid this situation at the present moment, to find other situations somewhere else in the game, requiring a streetwise level of 2 that you have, thus increasing your skill and then gaining enough experience in that skill to get to level 3 ! And then come back later to the first situation you had which will now grant you even more experience !
And in their games it's very important, because everything is hand-made, there are no random situations and so there is a maximum amount of experience you can gain, by following which or which way to complete the game. So trying to maximize the experience won from every situations, will allow you to open more doors in the end.
Word of advice : Sometimes during a discussion, you have the ability to “Attack Now” and get an Initiative Bonus ! Don't do it… Because after a few times, you'll get a Perk which will lower your “initial disposition“. The disposition is influenced by Charisma, and is fundamental to talk your way out of some situations, where you don't want to fight ! So if you're gaining this perk and have at the same time a low charisma, you're going to screw yourself for the rest of the game.
I personnaly gained this perk without knowing it by the end of the game, and it screwed me for 2-3 situations where i had the skills to reach a disposition of 10, but with this -1 disposition penalty i just couldn't reach it anymore…
Colony Ship The Odds are NOT in your Favor !
Most of the time, and even more during the first hours… You will definitely think that the game is against you !🤣
Theorically… Your opponents should have the exact same chances to kill you… But in reality, the dice rolls will more than once favor your opponents 😅 I am not even joking… I have seen it ! As if the battles were not hard enough lol ! You see, there is a random part in every fights, which can sometimes turn a whole battle into a disaster for you… or for your foes ! But in practice it will favor the game more than you, so you'll really have to be smarter to survive !
In most fights you will be outnumbered, it will be rare to be 3 against 3 or 4 against 4… Even more if your Charisma attribute is low, thus limiting you to have a maximum of 2 companions. Trust me, it's an important factor as i have completed the game with only 3 people (2 companions + me), where if i have had put 1-2 more points into Charisma, i would have been able to have a 4th guy. And even if skills gains are shared, it's always better to be 4 than 3…
Colony Ship Quit the Hoarder style !
Remember those rpgs where you had so much stuff in your inventory you were never using ?
This is over in Colony Ship ! 😁 Many battles are so tough you'll have to use whatever you have in your backpack to stay alive ! Stims to heal you, Stims to become temporary super soldiers, grenades to poison your enemies, blind them, or to create a barrier of smoke to prevent the sharpshooters in cover from killing you !
There are even “expensive” grenades to disable the gadgets like “energy shields”, or to create a “stasis field” in order to prevent someone from acting during several turns or… to also protect one of your badly wounded teammate 😎 As a stasis field will prevent any harm to the affected characters for a few turns.
And in only a few turns everything can happen in Colony Ship !
There are battles where i remember i had to use most of my stims and grenades to prevail. At least like that your credits will really serve you well, as you'll have to seek traders to refill your stock. And don't think these are coming cheap… Anything that can help you greatly in battle will be expensive ! So you'll have to manage your financial resources.
Colony Ship Sneaking will make your life easier !
Sneaking will save your life more than once in Colony Ship !
And for people who have played to the previous games of Iron Tower, it's definitely a part of the game they improved in Colony Ship, in contrary to Age of Decadence where there were not so many places where “sneaking” could be used.
Actually Stealth and Science Skills are all very important… You will find many places thoughrout the game, where you'll have to sneak in to take out a few guards to make a fight easier in the end. Or other places where sneaking will help you to access a protected computer, where as an example, you'll be able to reprogram turrets to kill everyone in a room.
But for all of that you'll need a Mix of Stealth and Science Skills ! Sneaking to not be detected, “Electronics” to bypass a few locked doors, “Lockpicking” to open a few cabinets and of course “Computers” to reprogram Consoles.
And i don't need to tell you that the best stuff in Colony Ship can be found in locked containers, sometimes behind force fields, and if you don't increase these skills, you'll miss a lot on high end gear. In Colony Ship like in all their previous games, gear plays a part as big as your skills. Don't underestimate the power of a good armor to stay alive 😎
Colony Ship for the Win !
Colony Ship is exactly what we “Fans of Old School Rpgs” were expecting !
This game had been on early access since the beginning, as the developers wanted to work at the same time with the community, to be sure their game would be a success. And even if i am not the type of guy to play to an Early Access game, i only play to a product once it's finished / polished, i know it's the best way to make more sales.
Actually i really would like Iron Tower Studio to make a lot of sales with Colony Ship ! Because i fucking want to play to the Sequel that's why !! 😅 I want Iron Tower Studio to grow even bigger, to be able to hire several more developers and designers, in order to bring us an even bigger sequel !
Guess i am some kind of masochist as i know this game stressed me A LOT ! And still… I want more ! 🤣
If you like a good challenge, managing your resources to avoid being broke, making sure you will use everything you have in order to stay alive, then this game is made for you.
For old Fans only : Like in every other games from Iron Tower Studio, there are a few fights which are completely “optional”, and which have been made to test your skills. These are similar to the fight against “The Guardian” in Age of Decadence and “The Constructs” or the “5 roman waves” in Dungeon Rats. These are the kind of battles that look impossible at first sight.. But there is a lot of Pride to gain if you manage to overcome them ! 😎
Computer used for this test : Core I5-13400 / RTX 4070 Ti / 64Gb ddr5 / Ssd NVMe
Performances : 165 FPS in Maximum Graphics
Hours spent : 70+ hours in one Playthrough.
Difficulty : Underdog.
Note on 100%
+ Very… VERY Addictive ! Once you start it's hard to stop…
+ Challenging from the very beginning to the very end…
+ Replayable if you're the type to test other ways / builds
+ The Hardest it is, the more you'll be rewarded
– Very Stressing game… You will curse it many times !
– Save often, this game is unforgiving on many aspects.
(so if you're stuck, you'll just use an old savegame)