I was excited when I heard about Star Command. I missed (both of) their Kickstarter campaigns, but I might have invested in them if I hadn’t! A pixelated version of Star Trek where you can explore the galaxy seemed right up my alley. I was disappointed that it came out first on iOS, but it was promised that it would eventually make it to Android. I was again disappointed that it was first released as part of a Humble Bundle (but not this one), and I figured I would just wait until I bought it on Google Play (for an easier time with updates). I finally bought it with some Google Play credit.

I finished the first run through (there is a New Game+) in about 5 hours. That seems pretty short for a $2.99 “premium” game (as they call it). In fact, in the 5 hours, I played all of the side missions and I grinded my ship for a long time too! In fact, I think grinded too much because when I started playing the storyline, it was super easy!

Star Command has an uphill battle because it needs to construct the universe lore without being in the Star Trek universe (of course there are a lot of illusions to Star Trek allies & enemies). Part of what makes the game interesting is to see what will happen next. That’s slightly different than the plot, because the plot is pretty sub-par. But you want to see what parts of next scene will be like Star Trek. Also it’s kind of disappointing that you can pick replies but the dialog remains the same (for the most part).

After all the hype, I was disappointed in the gameplay. The initial few levels are fun as you get used to the mechanics (and having your red shirts die in battle) but after a few levels (especially after grinding), it becomes formulaic. Your ship has an incredible advantage in that the shields regenerate, while you just keep shooting at your enemies who can hardly repair their ship. The RTS becomes:

  1. Wait for weapons to charge
  2. Play weapons mini games
  3. Press shield boost button when available

The in game fighting is fun for awhile. Then you realize it’s too hard to click and control your redshirts. It seems like it would make more sense when you can group your crew into security teams and order them around (with waypoints).

Perhaps this is because I was able to fully upgrade my ship before starting the main storyline. It is too easy to grind the tutorial missions and get tokens to upgrade your ship. Although, I’m not actually sure how much benefit the upgrades are (increases damage by x%, decrease wait time by y%) as the enemies don’t really get any harder, and no new gameplay elements are added. Similarly, the crew RPG elements don’t seem that useful. At higher levels, you get a single special ability button. You can’t choose what it is, and half the time I don’t understand what the icon does.

Overall, the game is neat to play, but there doesn’t seem to be much to keep your attention if you’re not fascinated by the concept. In addition, the $2.99 price tag is pretty steep – there are many better free or $1 games. Perhaps my review will change once I play New Game+ as there are still a bunch of locations which I am prevented from flying to.