Shallow Space: Insurgency is an upcoming Real Time Strategy game developed by Special Circumstances, a small company based in Birmingham, UK. As the title might suggest, the game is set in space and allows players to command a number of fleets and different spaceships as they take on the challenges only an all-out space conflict can provide. The game is financed through an IndieGoGo campaign and is currently going through an early alpha stage.
The closest thing to nexus 2 for years to come
When it comes to Space RTS titles, the comparison with cornerstones of the genre such as the Homeworld series or Nexus: The Jupiter Incident is hard to avoid, especially since Shallow Space: Insurgency is described as the spiritual successor to the latter and as heavily inspired by the former. So similar is this title to Nexus: The Jupiter Incident that Vincent van Diemen, the original producer for Nexus, decided to join the development team, describing Shallow Space as the closest thing to Nexus 2 fans will see for many years to come. As mentioned before, the game is currently going through an Alpha stage and the development team has released a playable demo which showcases some of Shallow Space‘s main features and on which this preview is based.
Booting up the demo and going through the still empty menus, players are presented with a quick mission which aims at demonstrating the way the tactical controls work. A station is under attack by waves of raiders and it is imperative that it survives until reinforcements can be deployed. Commanding only a handful of ships, players have to protect the station and survive as many waves as possible while learning how to position their own units and discover, pursue and hunt down enemy crafts. The way players can control their ships is by dividing them into flotillas and wings and giving them either group commands or single ones, similarly to the system used in Homeworld. By clicking the corresponding icons, players can order different wings to escort, pursue or destroy targets or access some of the ships special abilities such as the possibility, for carriers, to deploy frigates in order to intercept incoming missiles.
Regarding the graphic compartment, Shallow Space: Insurgency is based off the Unity engine, as suggested by the fact that most settings are dealt with outside of the game itself. As a result of that, the game looks decent even though most of the textures and models still need to be implemented, at least according to the developers themselves, and will definitely look great once it is complete. The game also features decent sound assets, although the generic goa/trance soundtrack which accompanies the demo tends to get boring really quickly.
Most of it is still just a promise on paper
The demo only showcases what is described above and although the development team promises that Shallow Space: Insurgency will include additional features, such as the possibility to create custom ships and fleets, the ability to use different weapons and skills, deeper galaxy exploration and even the introduction of special characters in the game, it is all still just a promise on paper, like with most early access titles. The IndieGoGo campaign shows screenshots and video from more content that is being worked on but that, for some reason, has not yet been added to the playable demo. Plenty of lore, which could have been easily added in and could have contributed to create hype for the title has been only published on the project page, requiring fans to go through some extensive reading before they even start the game. Whether this was a deliberate choice from the developers, who preferred to play it cautious by only showing a minimal part of their product or the result of strict deadlines is not clear, but it certainly had a negative effect on the overall presentation of the game.
It could turn out to be an interesting title
In conclusion, Shallow Space: Insurgency is not a bad game. It is a space RTS that draws a lot from its predecessors and that could, eventually, turn out to be an interesting title. Albeit not introducing anything new, the team seems to be working hard on this project, with regular updates to both the playable demo and the IndieGoGo campaign while regularly accepting feedback from their backers.
If you are a fan of the genre and the recent release of the Homeworld Remastered Collection did not satiate your thirst, Shallow Space: Insurgency might be the next project you want to back on IndieGoGo, while keeping in mind that, as with any crowdfunded project started by an indie developer, there is a possibility that the project will fail or that the game, upon release, will not be what the company has been promising all along.