Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is a prequel set before the the original Homeworld released back in 1999. I am sure many of you have fond memories of the Homeworld series, as the game went on to win multiple ‘Game of the Year’ awards that year. 17 years later, Blackbird Interactive and Gearbox have brought us to where the series all started, before it started.
Perusing the internet, many have commented on the feel of the game being in line with the Homeworld series. I haven’t played through the series, so I have decided to not include any of these elements in my review. So playing this game as a Homeworld novice, how is it?
The tutorial and beginning missions of the campaign do a great job of teaching you the in game controls and what the heck is going on with the story. You’re objective is to find what many believe as a powerful artifact that may save your people and the planet of Kharak. Basically, the Deserts of Kharak formed due to this very problem: Kharak is dying.
I’d love to dive into the story and relate it back to the other games in the series, but again, I don’t want previous influences from the Homeworld series to muddle my amateur mind. So let’s put it this way: the story is solid and the narrative is great. Voice acting too. Those of you who are fans of the series will probably really enjoy its attention to lore (or so I have been told).
The game mechanics work great for an RTS. The Carrier is your base unit (aka the Kapisi) that serves as your mobile (albeit slowly) heavy unit that produces all your units. The Carrier is customizable based on your current needs in battle, and it really feels like you are controlling an aircraft carrier in the middle of an ocean… of sand. The units feel familiar to other strategy games, with certain units playing better against others and others not so much.
Pressing the spacebar gives you a tactical view of your immediate surroundings and your impending danger over the next ridge or around the next bend. Knowing the height of the terrain is important for your units in order to get advantages on your enemies and not waste firepower shooting into sand dunes and ridges. It will also show your objective markers in case you lose your way.
Visually, the game looks good. The cutscenes are a watercolor style, which ironically fits the environment. The units all have great detail to them. The environments feel and look desolate but very pretty.
Overall, this was a solid RTS experience. I didn’t jump into the multiplayer, but I really enjoyed the time I spent in the singleplayer campaign. I really liked the flow of the story that felt different from other games I have played. After playing Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, I may need to dabble in more of the series.
No sandworms in this desert
Design - 9/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Challenge - 7.5/10
+ Excellent design
+ Solid RTS gameplay
+ Great visuals
– Pacing isn’t the greatest