Class Reunion - Class of 1969 - Liberty, Mississippi
Title: Helium Rain
Genre: Action, Indie, Simulation, Strategy
Release Date: 11 Oct, 2018
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I hoped for something like X3 with a usable interface..
I got disappointed. The user interface is just as bad, perhaps worse.
I played it for a day.. a day of docking and undocking from stations. Boring. And frustrating because the interface is so bad.
You can't edit joypad controls.
You have to switch between mouse, keybord and joypad constantly.
And that without any need: it's not that your interaction with the game is very complex. Fly to station, autodock, fly to another station, autodock, repeat. That's most of the game the first few hours. For that simple process, you need a cascade of clicks through all kinds of menus.
For other interactions you have to go back an forth between menus as well: set up trade route.. frustrating as hell
Perhaps the combat is ok.. but I won't go through the pain of collecting enough money by dock-undock-boringness until I finally have a fighter.
. Pretty in depth if not a little hard to start off. I like the atmosphere and feel to this game.. This game nails the lonely deep space colony feel 100% with the graphics, art and music. The UI is clean, functional and I also found it intuitive so far.
Gameplay-wise, it seems very similar to a cleaned up X3. I attribute a lot of that cleaner feel to the way the game handles trading and travel. There are no gates, and transfering to different orbits takes days, but days can be fast forwarded through. Days also act as turns for resolving automated trade activities and constructions (and other events during war or metorite intercepts).
The combat was responsive and fun. It seems like it can be easy to disable parts of ships, but destroying them takes a lot more. This turns out to be a good thing since the combat ends when ships are disabled rather than destroyed. So even if you loose a fight, you likely will only need to pay to repair your drifting damaged ships instead of having to construct entirely new ones. I haven't tried combat using larger ships yet.
Definately can recommend this one. The developers are also very active, listen to observations/suggestions, and are willing to discuss them. In some cases they have implemented suggestions very quickly. The game already feels mostly finished and it runs great (no stuttering/performance issues, and no crashes).. Very disappointing.
Compared to other games in the genre this game is not worth your time. If it was still in development I could let it slide, but this is a finished game. THe ship controls are buggy and frustrating and the game design is lazy and unimaginative. This game attempts to fill a niche' that is already full and does it poorly.. A good game, pretty much like the X series, but more dynamic / less tedious.
Also very responsive developers, I have posted a bug to the issue tracker and it was fixed in like 1 day.. Game Graphic is just wierd and un-apealing.. not the object themself.. i think it is a lightning issue.. everything feel so dull .. like the city of batman :) ..
As you see on steam pictures, it look dull and un-apealing.. if you agree with me that is.
anyhow, it is enough for me to stay away from the game untill they change something if they do.
Ill wait and see... You know Texas poker card game for computers? This game is pretty much the same thing base on how they're programmed. Very static and cunning.
Other corporations would not protect their own sectors where my freighters traded in to fend off the pirates themselves. Even a very light pirate fighter flying in Ghoul class could easily take over any stations and disable my freighters unless I fly for days to that sector and destroy that pirate myself. Indeed, it makes sense to mix fighters or battleships with freighters into the same fleet but it always depends on combat values, pirates often have higher combat values that can easily defeat player's fleet or player's stations. I wonder what happens to that feature of player's combat fleets patroling the sectors or defend stations and select specific ships to fly to a certain sector like Egosoft's Xseries, Helium Rain apparently doesn't have it. The only way to command other ships to fly to other sectors is creating a trading route under company menu which is a hassle.
Diplomacy is very restricted to how much player can afford to pay tributes. Repuations is harder to earn than lost by 10 times making more missions to avoid. It doesn't appear to count if player destroy pirates for raising repuations with other races without selecting missions to defend other races' sectors.
No freelance traders for player's freighters here, have to micro-managing every trading routes around every a week or so. Have to check economy menu to see which sectors for supply and demands, also don't forget to check the prices. So after 10 trading routes, it becomes more hassle but this game is pretty much like 4x game, not like Egosoft's Xseries, so player can micro-managing as much of time before flying to other sector or skip a day like turn-base game.
Cannot fly out of sector's range and the range is much smaller compare to Egosoft Xseries. Only limit numbers of player stations can be built, 5 per sector unless the player researched dense stations which increase to just 10 per sector, that's it. When building station, player cannot pinpoint where in a sector for station to build, even it's pointless since the sector's range is still limiting.
UI feature sucks for combat. All it matters is who have higher combat value points, that's it, not skills or evade and stations do not have any defenses like lasertowers, mines, turrets, stealth, or hide inside asteroids, etc. Only fleets with higher combat values can protect stations against other lower combat value fleets, that's it. So if the pirates with higher combat value decide to go war against player at any given times, the player is screwed, game over if requesting for peace doesn't work or taking too long. Only way to stop the pirates might be to go through game program files and delete the pirates if you know how to.
Pirates often raid other sectors, even several at same time and there are around 24 sectors I think at most, while several sectors having no stations or ships, so there's not much room for expanisons to beat the odds. I haven't tried to destroy pirates in early game before they grow stronger but I realized this isn't sandbox game that there are around 15 other corporations, one or more of them might go war against the player regardless. Plus, there's not much sense of unity between player with other corporations.
There are bugs, while micro-managing routes as to select which sectors, products and buy, sell, load, unload, adjust routes, etc, the game often crashed to desktop with fatal error. Once in awhile, it crashed while flying or entering other menus.
This game is sort of a mix with 4x games like Free Orion/Galactic Civilizations 3 and sandbox fly sims like Xseries, but it's limiting or less depth, also it includes Texas poker game's cheating algorithms against player as well. I was hoping this would be a sandbox based game or has sandbox features but it really ain't. I'd give this 2 out of 10. Because of this, I rarely buy games, so other gaming companies could thank Helium Rain for making me turned out to be more skeptical on buying new games.. After having played it for about 7 hours as of making this post and having reached late-game content I think I can now comment on the games Pros and Cons in my own oppinion.
Beautiful art design - Whether it be stylized stations and ships reminiscent of the early years of Sci Fi, or the rings of a Gas Giant cutting through the sky, the game is simply beautiful and eyecandy in some areas.
Gameplay similar to the X Series - It is hard not to compare it to the likes of X3: Albion Prelude. A smaller, more refined attempt rather than featuring dozens of specific zones to explore and trade in. It is sadly more simplified though, where sending ships to automatically trade instead makes them sell to all stations within a Sector who are willing to buy, instead of setting a single station to manually trade with. But it adds its own level of complexity to ship systems. You can disable engines, weapons, power. You don't need to destroy a ship to win the fight. Movement feels good, combat feels good. There's not much more to say here. Its good.
The AI: If any of us have played the X games then we should all know the AI is terrible in those. I've been pleasantly surprised by Helium Rains AI pathways. Auto-Docking is cleaner than i ever could have thought possible. Though bugs do persist that requires me to manually dock sometimes.
Responsive Developers - As far as I have seen the development team appear responsive to suggestions and tweaks. It is always nice to see an Early Access game that is cared for publicly.
Exploration - Rather than going through Warp Gates to reach zones, you instead 'Fast Forward' after selecting a spot orbiting one of the four planetoids in the Menu. It can feel as though it is removing you from the flow of the game as days pass by in-game before you reach your destination but for you it is merely 1 second per day. It feels too much like teleportation since you can do it from any area to any discovered zone. It takes seconds to reach the other side of colonized space, causing this sensation of disconnection with events in-game.
The Menus - Though the UI is certainly well designed and easy to navigate, half of your time will be spent inside of it. This also suffers from taking you out of the perspective of the Universe. The game feels almost half like an Information terminal sometimes. Watch gameplay of Helium Rain and you will see a Window taking up the entire screen with text more often than you would think. Not a con if you like this terminal-focussed gameplay, but for me it can become frustrating not knowing whats going on around me while im inside of it. (The game continues in real-time when you open it up)
Star System design - The trailer and screenshots shown tend to focus on the handful of Zones that genuinely look breathtaking. But these are far and in-between. Most of the regions you will explore look barren, with only the odd few asteroids to give aesthetics. Along with this, these systems tend to have the Stations clumped together in close clusters. Giving the impression that these were rushed into creation to get the economy up and running first, aesthetics later.
Factions: Each Company in the game has a monopoly on their chosen industry. You are the new comer, someone who can choose which industry to focus on and act competitively against one of the Dominant Corporations. There exists a reputation system, which I tend to love in Video Games. But I dont feel it is handled well in Helium Rain. There are no set rivals for each company, aside from Pirates. I haven't waged war yet to see if it affects reputation, but I feel it is a large miss for reputation to not be dynamic. If you want to be cosy with one faction then another should totally begin to hate you for it. You could go the entire game being neutral to all and friendly with some and face no consequences. But that's just my opinion. I liked how Freelancer handled it is all. You simply couldn't be neutral with everyone at once, someone will always hate your guts, which kept things dynamic.
Economy - Speaking of the Economy, it leaves much to be desired in its current state. I have found simply saving up for a large transport and then buying a full cargo of water and parking it in a Sector that consumes the most of it for trading can make the entire purpose behind the games ability to buy stations and wage wars completely mute. With 2k a day in profits, you can simply click the Fast-Forward button and leave it at that. Gaining a hundred thousand within 50 seconds. You simply do not need to do anything else to make money. And if you really wanted to abuse the economy, you could repeat this step by buying more transports and selling resources where they are most consumed over time, your supplies will always be bought first so there's no need to worry about the AI selling them before you. The game has a very unbalanced economy and the existence of a fast forward mechanic seems to work against the premise of doing missions and undercutting your competition as you will simply only be doing them for the early game. It is just not worth doing anything other than sitting through the fast forward process because the Time Wasted versus Profits Gained ratio is so far out of scale that its just more beneficial to just not bother at all. Building stations in fact act more as a drain to your income than an actual benefit.
All in all the game is still early in development and these are issues that can and likely will be fixed given enough time. I'd completely recommend the game in its current state as long as you enter into it with a refusal to abuse the economy and take all the fun out of it. This game is of a dying breed and has high potential, I look forward to future updates.. I've put a lot of hours into Helium Rain, so decided to give a better review on what the game is, as I'm once more putting it on the shelf.
In essence, this game is an elaborate spreadsheet simulator, with a fluctuating economy based on rival company's own needs and goals. That is not a bad thing, although there are a couple things to note: Actual gameplay is little more than flying to docks. Combat exists, although outside shooting meteors rarely comes up, and almost any aggressive action ends in a sea of headaches. Companys will fight amongst each other, expand, and trade with themselves and you.
There is some amount of management. You can buy multiple ships, arrange them in fleets, and maneuver around the systems. You can do trade routes, although do not do this with ships that are too large, or you will cause a lot of issues I'll address later. You can have some large bands of roving attack ships, which in my case was just the opportunity for a bit of money if I happened to be sitting in a system with incoming meteors. A research system exists, but the only research that truly changed anything meaningful was 50% less travel time, and being able to construct foundries, since apparently no other company can make electronics but me now. Robust tools are offered to assemble fleets and automate basic things, as long as you name your fleets and routes properly so you don't forget which ship is the one you want. Manual action is rewarded with time efficiency as your AI ships take a day to dock and do anything, while you can dock an unlimited amount of times in a single system in a day.
However, my primary issue is the lack of immersion. Although the world moves around, it mostly ignores you. Nobody picks fights with you or truly competes. Even the pirates are friendly. As such, it has been me taking advantage of the larger companies who are rather inept at keeping their own supply chains going. Using fleets of Omens on automated trade routes, I was shunting thousands of resources around keeping all the cogs lubricated, but my income was not high enough to play with the big toys, such as battleships or massive stations.
And that is when I realized the real enemy in this game is the enemy company's being inept the longer the game runs. They have a fixed amount of money in their corporate pockets, and seem to be fairly ignorant on using it efficiently. I inadvertantly bankrupted a number of companies by upgrading my trading ships to Atlas and Sphinxes; these can carry 1,600 and an impressive 16,000 cargo, while an Omen carries 400. The problem is that the enemy companies spent every last credit they had on me supplying a few stations that could hold many thousands, and then...
I had nobody to sell to. Not only that, but the entire economy fell apart. With the enemy companies broke, their supply chains collapsed from the bottom up, and eventually every station they had in the solar system needed things they couldn't afford to supply. Buying resources from them does not seem to increase their coffers, even 50-100k worth of water and fuel. Day by day they hemmorage up perhaps 500 credits total, which I use to try and cram pieces of steel to finish my latest ship, which despite taking hundreds of thousands of credits for me requires steel that they cannot buy from me to complete it. Looking at the diplomacy now, all companies are -10k+ credits in the bank, although Nema Heavy Works is hanging on with a positive balance of 28. Axis Supplies has 400k until I wipe them out, and the pirates are happily sitting on a million, so maybe I'll buddy up with them since they don't hate me.
I'm not sure if destroying the economy of the solar system is an intentional danger in this game, but given it took 20 hours to happen, that's a little rough. My game is not dead, as I can construct my own habitats to sell to, and my own shipyard, but what for? If my goal is to defeat all the other companies, they are pretty much dead, with whole systems floating with the broken corpses of ships they cannot afford to repair.
I found the game relatively cathartic as an idling game. Purchasing auto dock then doing other stuff while my ship tuddled around slowly docking made it more enjoyable. Although I spent 20 hours in it, I never got to accomplish anything in the endgame I desired, like a large self-sufficient complex hidden away in the ruins or a fleet of battleships. It was just far too easy with no particular conflict, and now I'm the only one floating around with a positive balance and the burden of destroying a poor system struggling to survive on it's own.
I admire what the devs have done with this game, and it had a strange charm that kept drawing me back to poke at it even if not with my full attention, but until the difficulty and the ability of companies to sustain themselves without me keeping them afloat or accidentally destroying them, I'll put the game on ice. Since there's no neutral vote, I'll do recommend, but be wary of tutorials that don't cover all the bases or recommend insanity like waging war on people, and may the lord bless you in your first attempts to figure out how automated trade routes work, as that was a nightmare.
Helium Rain 1.3.1 hotfix released:
We've released the 1.3.1 hotfix to Helium Rain to account for two new issues.