Well, now this is different. A strategy game at heart, this title sees you take control of a spacecraft and go explore the universe to make your fortune. Sound’s a lot like the classic Elite, or even something like Warpgate?
Well, it is based around the same concepts of trading, exploring and combat, but whereas in those games you are free to do whatever you want for however long you want, here you are limited to play sessions of no more than 45 minutes maximum.
Sounds strange? Well, it is, as Weird Worlds is basically one big strategic high score attack game. Upon starting a new game you get to choose one of three ships, the size of the map and difficulty of enemies and also nebula mass. The map size is really important, as this determines the length of your game, from a small map that lasts 10 game years, to a large one lasting 30.
You are then thrust into the game proper and find the titles biggest failing. The whole thing is baffling for new players. Menus pop up confusingly, and the interface is initially bewildering, with hardly a sense of where you are or what you are supposed to be doing. Tutorial dialog is there to help, but to be honest it just adds to the confusion, as it is over long and lacks direction.
The developer should just have a short video showing a few key points of the gameplay that shows the first time a player starts a game. Those tutorial texts really do need to be more focused as well.
I’ll stop complaining now and focus on what, when you get your head around it, actually turns out to be a mightily original, and very enjoyable, romp around outer space.
You travel from star system to star system, with each journey taking a chunk out of your time limit. Each system has items to find, some with great value, some with little, and you basically have to find as many high value items as possible, store them in your cargo hold and make it back to your home system before the time runs out.
Items can be traded with friendly species for weapons and other equipment for your ship, which starts out pretty wimpy. A tip here is to avoid trouble until you have some beefy weapons and shields or at least some wingmen to help out. Extra ships to add to your flotilla can either be found through luck by meeting friendly aliens ready to join you, or by purchasing hired help by giving a mercenary one of your items.
Combat is pretty cool, and is played out from above. You give each of your ships orders to either ram or attack enemy craft, and the combat plays out. Lasers, missiles all fly around in a Star Trek style and it’s really enjoyable, but also harsh; if your main craft is destroyed its game over. No saves, no retry button, so be careful.
It’s great fun, exploring and trading around the galaxy, avoiding black holes and nebulas and reading the funny descriptions of each world. It all feels very much like an old text adventure played out in real time, and if it wasn’t for the graphics you would swear you were playing an old Commodore 64 or Spectrum game. That’s no bad thing and a refreshing change for the App Store.
I just wish there was a true ‘infinite’ mode, where you could explore and build a fleet at your own leisure. I understand it is the nature of the game, but it can feel a tad disappointing, having built up an impressive navy, with all the best rated weapons and most expensive items, to have to go back to your home planet and essentially exchange it all for a place on a high score table.
The maps are all randomly generated, and there is Game Center support to compete with players around the world, and there is also a cool combat simulator where you get to choose your ships and battle it out against the AI, so overall there is plenty of content here for your money.
Some people just won’t understand the appeal here, but for those looking for a true retro feeling title that will take you back to playing public domain games on the Amiga, and who can look past the slightly clunky interface, will find a game rich in character and style.