Review: BASE ONE Probably Won't Be Your First Choice

Simulation games often walk a fine line between realism and unrealistic. If a game is too realistic, then it can be fairly boring. But if it is too unrealistic, it can come off as cheap or silly. While Base One may not be strictly a simulation game, it does offer a more technical and realistic view of running a space station. This realism plays as one of the game’s major strengths but is bogged down by bugs and some poor pacing choices.

Starting out, players learn how to make parts of the base, how to connect electrical systems and life-support systems to keep people alive, healthy, and happy. Players then start dealing with visitors, larger additions, and various hazards. This progression is good in the first level or two, but it does feel a bit slow and becomes more cumbersome as new systems keep being added every 10 minutes or so. It stays at this tutorial pace for far too long and drags the game a lot. I think the complexity of all these systems will challenge people in a good way, but learning all these systems forces players through simple levels that can become pretty boring. 

The best part of this game is when players have a bit more freedom in building what they want and dealing with incoming needs, hazards and problems. It’s just too bad that this doesn’t happen often enough in the main game, especially early on. A level or two allowing me to test my newly learned skills on larger and larger projects would have been great instead of trudging through a new system and a slightly bigger station at every level. It can be really entertaining to build lots of new additions, see workers on the station live their lives, and panic when asteroids come, but those times don’t happen often enough.

As good as the stations look and as smooth as things seem to run, there are still a number of odd hiccups. After having lots of things constructed, the game starts to show more bugs that slow down gameplay significantly. I found my workers walking into walls and not doing a task too often to be ignored. I also found many objects not registering clicks so often that I got used to clicking four or five times on an object to select it.

Base One is really great at putting you at the helm of a growing space station with cool visuals and lots of options and complexities. But the overall performance and slowness of everything make it feel a bit like homework. When the game is running well and when your not in a tutorial section, the games are pretty awesome, but there is more time spent clicking through tutorial text than dealing with asteroids.