Parents' Guide to

Star Control: Origins

By David Chapman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Fun arcade space adventure weighed down by empty adventure.

Game Windows 2018
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They say that in space, no one can hear you scream -- but apparently, they can hear you laugh (or groan) along to corny jokes. At least, that seems to be part of the idea behind Star Control: Origins, Stardock’s reboot of the popular Star Control franchise from the ‘90s. There’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor, but eventually the jokes get a bit stale. Part of this is because the cutscenes are meant to add an role-playing game(RPG) element to the game, but the player’s choices don’t serve any real purpose or consequence. Only a few decisions matter, like choosing whether or not to ally with a particular race, but by and large, the branching dialogue is there simply to provide more fodder for cheesy one-liners. Other role-playing aspects fall equally flat, as players just collect items to either move the story along or upgrade their ships.

Things get better when Star Control: Origins leaves the RPG elements behind and takes to the stars. The space combat feels like a classic arcade game, with players dodging enemy fire and blasting away with their own arsenal of sci-fi weapons and abilities. These are the best moments in Star Control: Origins, though even these have their drawbacks. For starters, exploring the galaxies also means grinding for resources by dropping rovers onto planets and driving around searching for something you need. Since the universe is procedurally generated, you’ll need to rely on your personal map to make sure you don’t backtrack to planets you’ve already visited. Multiplayer Fleet Battle mode can be frustrating too, because you never know what sort of fleet you’re facing. On the rare occasion that opposing fleets are balanced, Fleet Battles are a lot of fun. But way too often, the balance is completely out of whack, so you’ll face off against overwhelming firepower, or you'll instantly mow down the opposition. Ultimately, it’s just one more frustration that keeps Star Control: Origins from reaching its interstellar potential.

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