Review: Dead Star (PS4)

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Title: Dead Star
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.44 GB)
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Armature Studio
Developer: Armature Studio
Original MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: E
Dead Star is also available on PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
If you’re looking for a story driven game, Dead Star is not it. If you are looking for pure action though, this is your game.

The story is your everyday basic Sci-Fi trope, and while not overly memorable, it does fit the game adequately enough. The one strange thing is that the story setup is found in the tutorial section.

I would like to have seen some sort of quick cutscene explaining the universe on the front end. The art design of the ships and pilots is well done and I think it would have provided an entertaining opening.

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One of the first things you need to do is hit the tutorial. While the game is fairly easy to pick up, the tutorial brings you up to speed and allows you to enter the game quickly. With that said, I wish it was a little more comprehensive and not as menu driven.

An advanced tutorial section would have been nice for those of us who want a little more hand holding, but what isn’t here is in the help section. It’s menu based and I would rather it be voiced over instead of reading it myself. I guess what I am really after is immersion, and I didn’t get it either here or in the story.

… great for trying new strategies …
The next big section is Free Play and I suggest you spend some time here at first. This is a good place to really learn the game before you take it online and fight other players.

This is great for trying new strategies or getting them just right. It’s also a good place to figure out what class and type of ship you’ll want to use, which will be very important.

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There are three types and three classes of ships to choose from. Each of the ship classes and types has its pros and cons, but they also have their own ability sets. In a match, you will be likely using all three types. The nice thing is you can mix and match the classes to allow you the maximum ease while in combat.

Dead Star is all about strategy and not about clobbering your opponent. It can be done, but it will not be as fun. I found that out the hard way, but I am getting ahead of myself here.

… mine to upgrade your sector’s bases …
There are three modes of play, 5v5, 10v10, and Escape Run, which I’ll talk about later. At first glance, this game may appear to be a twin-stick shooter with a MOBA approach, but I thought of it more as a strategy game.

While it’s not a great idea to attack head-on, it is possible, and you might even win the match. But each map has sectors assigned to it and each sector has its own base you can upgrade. There is a time limit and kill counter to each match.

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What makes it a strategy game is the fact that you need to mine to upgrade your sector’s bases, and it counts towards the overall experience that you get.

I found myself using a Scout ship to attack a unclaimed sector at the start of a match. Then I started mining in that sector until it was time to attack, at which point I switched to an Attacker type or a Frigate.

… the toughest mode in the game …
One of the surprising factors in the game is speed – it can be brutally fast at times. Knowing which upgrades to apply in a quick manner is a must to be successful. Also, knowing the choices of your enemies in ship classes and types can be very helpful. Yet another reason that using Free Play is in your best interest.

Escape Run is the last mode and it puts you in a squadron of five guarding a downed Capital Ship. This is probably the toughest mode in the game. You start the match by warping into an already in progress game and it’s up to you to get out alive.

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This is an exciting mode with a five minute counter. Knowing ten to twenty players are going to come after you is a lot of fun. Escape Run is accessed by being awarded contracts through the award system.

At the end of each round you are rewarded augmentations and character skins. Augmentations are used to upgrade your ships in various ways to help improve your playing experience.

I was always checking for the newest thing, which helped me play more matches so I could be better. You are also rewarded in character skins and paint jobs for your ships. It’s a nice addition, even though it doesn’t really play any role in the game.

… the game is technically proficient …
Visuals:
This is a good looking game, but it’s not a tour de force like some games are. You’ll play and enjoy what’s around you but you probably won’t say, “Wow, this is beautiful”.

And that’s okay, not every game needs to be jaw-droppingly gorgeous with particle effects to the moon. I will say though, the game is technically proficient and there were no hiccups of any sort when I played it.

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Audio:
What I said above in the visuals department can go for the audio section as well. While proficient, it’s not as memorable as some soundtracks can be, and once again that’s alright.

Dead Star is about action, plain and simple. The music fits the gameplay, and while there is a small sampling of voice acting, there isn’t enough to hang your hat on.

… a fun but tough game …
Online/Multiplayer:
This game is multiplayer only and no real true single player mode. There’s Free Play but that is more a part of the tutorial system.

Conclusion:
Dead Star is a fun but tough game. Its strength is definitely in the gameplay and it’s worth a go. There so much depth that anyone can find something to enjoy.

Whether you’re just mining to help out your teammates or in an all out attack, any type of gamer can fit right in. My only gripe is the lack of immersion in the game, and truth be told it’s not a huge gripe.

Luckily this one is a free PS Plus game for April so there is no reason not to try it out.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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