Starbound is an action/exploration game that's strongly reminiscent of Terraria (not surprising since both games share the same developer), the biggest difference being that Starbound takes place in space. You'll survive and explore the infinite space from planet to planet, find rare materials, and fuel for your ship to gradually become a person who has a real place in the galaxy.
In Starbound, you start the game by choosing a character from the many varieties available. You'll then be propelled inside your spaceship with all the equipment you need for a "material handler", letting you harvest the raw materials necessary for your survival and development including food, minerals, and fuel for your ship.
Like Minecraft and Terraria, Starbound is what you make it. The game offers extensive creative possibilities, including being able to create your database on any planet in the (infinite) universe, customizing your ship, and customizing your equipment.The game offers a lot of content in the long term, with many levels of weapons and armor, galaxies which are prioritized according to the power of the enemy, and a higher quality of materials.
But Starbound isn't limited to a simplistic 2D hack'n'slash. The exploration component is paramount, and the excitement you feel when you discover a new planet is amazing. Each planet has its own individual climate, different monsters, and a hoard of NPCs populating entire villages, scattered across the universe like mysterious relics. Of course, there's also the ability to dust off your excavation tools at any time to dig and harvest the precious minerals buried in the depths of the planet.
Like Terraria, but better?
Starbound may have many similarities to Terraria, but it's undeniable that the space exploration game pushes far beyond the concept of its ancestor. Exploring the galaxy adds a certain infinite dimension, while the quality of fights and platform phases is unrivalled. The monsters are varied and require different strategies for confronting them, while climate variability and severity gives real variety to the different planets, such as arid deserts and moons without oxygen.
The crafting system is comprehensive too and constantly adds new content, although it's a shame that the menus aren't always completely functional when it comes to finding a particular object. The building aspect, however, is very well thought out and you can easily construct any object you can think of.
Retro and friendly
As is now the norm for independent games, Starbound's calling card is its retro graphics based on large pixels. Despite the low resolution, characters and environments are very successful, while many decorative elements are carefully designed to give personality to interiors. And they're very successful interiors too– they're hand drawn, which gives them great personality but a certain repetitiveness that can't be avoided. Having said that, it's still nice to come across these inhabited villages, like those filled with merchants, characters who have consistent lines of dialogue. Unlike most games in the genre, Starbound manages to have a genuine personality that always makes you come back for more!
Note that the game's music goes perfectly with the exploration phases. The calm of these classic compositions recalls the style of Jeremy Soule, a successful composer that can be heard in Oblivion and Skyrim, with a style that really emphasizes beauty and nostalgia.
A beta that does more than just keep its promises
It certain that Starbound isn't finished yet; the game is still in beta, and it lacks essential content (notably agriculture), with updates that sometimes delete your characters or their inventories. It's for you to decide if you like the genre enough to forgive these few shortcomings.
What we can tell you is that fans will find Starbound to be the best exploration game on the market, at present. It's a super-boosted space version of Terraria, with a unique personality and tremendous opportunities for crafting and construction. Most importantly, the opportunity to improve on the version is enormous, so by the time the final version is released, Starbound should offer something really special. With this in mind, there's no urgency to install this chapter of Starbound, but we can assure you that if you do, you won't be disappointed!