"Killing Time in Space"
In the past couple of decades, games have seen an exponential rise in complexity and artistry. Thanks to the advances in console technology, we can now play games as detailed and immersive as any film, with stories that can be genuinely thought-provoking. Of course, the use of the video game as a means to mindlessly kill time is far from extinct. There are plenty of games that fit this niche, and Epic Astro Story is a great example of an easy, light diversion that can end up sucking away hours of your life.
Like Kairosoft's previous hit title Game Dev Story, Epic Astro Story is an overhead simulation game. However, instead of building a video game company, you're constructing a civilization. You start with just a few settlers on an uncolonized green planet, and you expand from there, building houses, fields, factories, and tourist attractions. If you do well enough at constructing a thriving settlement, you start to attract trade from other civilizations across the galaxy, and you'll start acquiring Research Points used to upgrade your technologies.
What separates Epic Astro Story from other simulation games is its use of RPG-style, turn-based combat. As you explore the uncharted parts of your new world, you have to send out parties of your settlers to fight the monsters. You prepare your characters in advance with weapons and armor, and you'll use your funds to boost their levels. If done correctly, fighting your way through beasts and bandits increases your money and helps you discover new technology. Of course, this is assuming you don't get your party killed.
Unfortunately, there isn't much danger of losing your settlers to the monsters, because Epic Astro Story is not a difficult game. It's very gently paced and gives you plenty of opportunities to upgrade your troops and your towns. The interface is easy to learn, and once you build up your civilization, acquiring the funds and munitions to squash any native resistance is easy. For those who seek a hard strategic challenge should look elsewhere.
Fortunately, Epic Astro Story's ease is what makes it compelling and addictive. The graphics are colorful and friendly, and the music is pleasant and unobtrusive. There's so much to manage that you won't get bored, and it's satisfying to see your civilization expand. If you find yourself in a situation where you have nothing to do but fiddle with your phone (the game is available for both iPhone/iPad and Android), be it on the bus or in a doctor's waiting room, Epic Astro Story is one of your best choices for passing the time. Just don't think too hard about it, or else you might find yourself sympathizing with the indigenous cuddly creatures you're exterminating and displacing.
GameDynamo's Score for Epic Astro Story (Mobile)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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