Title: Satellite Reign
Developer: 5 Lives Studio
Publisher: 5 Lives Studio
Release date: August 28th, 2015
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Satellite Reign is a game that inspires in me a profound level of indifference. That’s not to say that you might not love this game. It’s a real time, open world, class based strategy game that serves, by most accounts, as a good successor to Syndicate.
Set in a glistening cyberpunk city of perpetual darkness and neon lights, Satellite Reign looks exactly as one might wish it to. It operates smoothly, the UI is quite comprehensible. It was the grinding game-play that got to me.
Ostensibly, you have many options open to you when you undertake a mission. You can use stealth or go in all guns blazing. You can trust one of your agents with the mission, or take them all along. A more stealthy approach, however, is rather draining if you choose to take along every single one of your agents as you slowly slip them past the sight of the copious cameras or guards. Stealth with one agent is more tolerable, but should they slip up once, they will find themselves rather outgunned and you will likely have to try everything all over again. Combat leaves little room for skill: with few cool-down abilities it mostly consists of pointing your guys in the direction of theirs and hoping that the numbers are stacked in your favour. I much prefer party based combat with a fair few options, and perhaps a pause button also to make micro-managing less of an annoyance. Both stealth and combat get easier as you unlock better equipment through research. However, it was a waiting game that tried my patience. It’s a very gradual arms race. If you like the slow-burn of acquiring more and more power, then Satellite Reign might scratch that itch for you. I kept looking for systems to understand and therefore hopefully win against. I was left wanting, in that regard. When you’ve got more guards up against you and they’ve got better shields and more firepower, there’s little you can do except run.
There were some other parts of game design that made it more of a time-sink than I felt it needed to be. I spent a lot of time moving from place to place. Select a mission and you’ll be given an arrow telling you where to go. However, there are compounds everywhere in Satellite Reign. Sometimes, I broke into the wrong facility because the arrows direct you deep into a compound but not to any one entrance. Sometimes, I’d work my way into a place and then find I could not complete the mission because I didn’t have someone with a high enough level hardwiring skill. I imagine that the game improves on multiple play-throughs, when you know what to expect next.
The game does little with it’s open-world. Missions can be approached at one’s own pace- but I would have preferred an order to stop me from showing up somewhere where I’d be hideously outgunned. Beyond that, you can hack into ATMs. Or hijack citizens so they can be taken to a lab for cloning.
There’s a story there, but it is not, by any means, the focus. The text describing each mission is quite utilitarian in tone- mentioning the blueprints to be found there, and an overview of the layout. I didn’t have much idea what I was fighting for. Presumably more power. The narrative, in question, appears in the opening cinematic and then doesn’t rear its face till the end.
Satellite Reign created a beautiful world but it didn’t feel real. No one, in the world, really spoke. You could break into a facility and slaughter everyone and, were you to return a mission or two later, you’d find everything back up and running again. Even the cameras that you’d shot out. It was a static world with the only changes coming to your corporation and your agents, on your slow quest for power.
- I thought it looked quite nice.
- Lots of other people, who aren’t me, seem to like it.
- Good UI.
- I felt that combat and stealth were both a slow, grinding numbers game.
- I experienced several glitches that would freeze my agents in place. Causing me to have to force kill them to continue playing with them.
- Sparse narrative.
Honestly? I find it hard to rate this one. There’s plenty of violence, but since it is an isometric game- it’s not visceral.