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Friday | October 19, 2018
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Light Of Altair (PC)

Light Of Altair (PC)


Light Of Altair is a game made by two people with a budget price tag of $15. We love independent titles on Gamingheaven because quite often they don’t suffer from restrictive publisher control and are free to explore radical ideas outside the confines of a big budget production. As SaintXi develop and publish the game is it able to offer something entertaining for the relatively modest asking price?

Light of Altair is a space exploration and economic simulation which urges gamers to travel into the solar system and nearby stars in the galaxy. The focus is on constructing colonies and amassing resources then building fleets of ships for war.

Many strategy games tend to love a primary goal of military attack and tactical progression but the developers of Light Of Altair want gamers to spend more time focusing on economics. All of the scenarios give you command of a small colony which you must build up to colonize more planetary systems while competing with rival factions.

Unfortunately the mechanic is not really that deep and after spending some time working out the simple patterns it is hard to imagine that long term game play for veteran strategy players would be viable. The biggest issue is really that the whole concept of the game doesn’t rely on trading between planets so you quite often don’t need to spend a lot of time working out your strategy for placements. There are some benefits with this however, in that many gamers new to the genre will find it an easy title to pick up and play.

Another issue are the environmental settings – because most of the terrain can be built upon which means that it doesn’t really matter what planet you are trying to inhabit because the terrain doesn’t play any part in your colonisation strategy. All you really need to get a good foundation for a colony are a couple of farms and an energy plant. Once this is in place then by simply placing a few more farms and other buildings to satisfy your inhabitants desire for happiness it will continue to grow. Strangely enough the placement of these buildings doesn’t really matter either because nothing is connected together so you can plonk the various structures anywhere you want.

While this all sounds extremely negative on a strategy level, there are some considerations to take into account because once enemy units make their way into your territory then you need to expand and stop their plans to take over the planet by any means possible, which involves combat. Balancing the importance of combat and economy however isn’t wonderfully illustrated because the number of fleets you will have as well as your strategies with them are limited. Combat really means that two fleets will enter the same space and whichever has the highest numbers will win, most of the time. The lack of interaction here is sadly a major issue for me as I felt it would have been nice to have some control over the outcome of the battles. There is really no Artificial Intelligence either which is disappointing because even though you can watch the battles play out, it is pretty clear that the only strategy going on is in the code balancing of the highest numbers to get to the outcome. It is a frustrating element of the game because you will watch many of the cinematic battle sequences and wonder why all the ships are mindlessly heading to their death in certain directions instead of attempting a semi coherent strategy for success.

Splitting the fleets is a strategy concern because there is no way to split a fleet into two for defending multiple targets and there is also no way to combine them either. This means quite often you will be moving one fleet around to attack and defend various key positions. Later on there are some options to deploy defenses in the shape of a defensive space station but by the time you are able to do this you will be so jaded with the hours beforehand, it is not so much a redeeming feature, but more a “too little, too late” scenario. To be totally fair there are some defensive fleet options at hand but they involve using fighters which are easily destroyed by a capital ship.

In regards to the ships, you have a space station and four ship chassis which can be configured with various weapons, shields, fighter bays and armor. Some of the foes you will face can change between laser weapons or warheads as well as shields or armor. Dealing with them means you will normally have to enter one fight with them to analyse their defenses and attack systems, then adjust your own to best deal with them. It is this simplistic ship chassis load out limitation that makes most of the battles a trial and error situation.

The main campaign is decent enough, however it lacks a strong story focal point and it is more a case of just getting on with doing the same things on a repeating basis. The missions start out easy enough with straightforward goals which quickly escalate into war and shortly afterwards the various human factions make their progression into new planetary systems. There really is very little else to discuss because the basic mechanic carries throughout the experience with only minor details changing between scenarios.

Due to the non existence of Artificial Intelligence there is no multiplayer option offered which is unfortunate as the game could have had a lot of potential in this area. Once you beat the campaign you can replay it on hard mode and aim to achieve all the optional mission objectives, thats about it.

Graphically the game is decent but as expected has none of the polish of a higher budget title such as Galactic Civilizations. The designs are a little mundane and are the same across all the factions which limits the appeal of your own fleets. The texture detail is also very poor especially when studied up close – granted these things are to be expected from a two man team, but you can’t help but notice it, especially after playing a game such as Sins of A Solar Empire. That said, the game isn’t ugly enough to ruin the overall experience and it is easy on the system, so many people struggling to get solid gaming performance from their dated desktop or laptop system might find this more approachable.

Sound effects are limited with basic battle sounds and alerts on offer. The music isn’t bad with a bunch of electronic pop tracks available but it would be fair to say that the audio side of the game was the smallest concern of the development team.

Light Of Altair is by no means a bad game and when you consider the tiny team of two people and the obvious non existent budget then it all factors into an overall decision – especially when it only costs $15. The strategy is limited, the graphics are a bit rough around the edges, but under the hood there is a decent enough, lightweight strategy game to keep people entertained for a few days. If you want to dip your toes into an accessible economy based strategy game on a limited budget, then you could do a lot worse than invest in this.


Quite basic, but easy to get into.
Its acceptable, even if its rough in parts.
Very limited
Reasonable price, will appeal to gamers new to the genre as a stepping stone to something more complex.

Good value and worth a look.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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