Kerbal Space Program is a space flight simulator by Squad. Originally released for PC in 2015 (after an ages-long beta), the game was recently released for the the PS4 and Xbox One. Unfortunately, the port to PS4 feels rushed and incomplete, with lots of framerate stutters and a few glitches and crashes to really, err…increase the challenge. I may or may not have broken a controller after one particularly ill-timed crash.
As with any point-and-click to controller port, the controls on the PS4 version of the game are a bit much to get used to. Each button has different uses depending on when you use it and if you use it in conjunction with others, so things can get crazy pretty fast. However, none of this stops the game from being fun.
While very light on plot, the whole point of KSP is to get a spacecraft into space with as few casualties as possible (all of your failed attempts not withstanding.) It’s a constant loop of “reach milestone, then start from square one to reach next milestone.” I realize that in writing, that sounds about as fun as retaking the SAT over and over for all eternity, but somehow the game finds a way to keep it light and fun.
There are three modes in the game: Career, Sandbox, and Science. Career Mode is the equivalent of story mode here, in which you are tasked with managing and expanding your very own Space Center, and given multiple missions and technologies to research to complete to progress in abilities. In Sandbox mode, you can spend hours and hours making and testing different rockets. It’s basically an intense game of Legos if Legos had more explosions. Science mode is sort of a mix between the other two modes, as it starts you off with more parts than Career, but not as many as Sandbox. More parts and abilities are unlocked by obtaining more Science, which is gained through experiments.
The graphics and sound of KSP are simplistic to say the least, which is not something this generation of console gaming is used to. However, the almost cartoonish graphics and adorable little Kerbals make the game much more appealing for hours of play when you are essentially doing nothing but failing. A game with optimum graphics and realistic sounds would make each failure hit hard, ultimately ending the fun.
And trust me, fail you will. Despite its child-like appeal, KSP is not messing around. It makes you work for those successes. I find this to be a true stroke of genius, because while I enjoy laughing at my own expense as I watch three hours of work go up in flames, successful flights become a true thing of beauty.
For this, I believe Squad deserves a few medals. They’ve essentially taken rocket science, a subject that a person like myself would run screaming from, and turned it into hours of joy and laughter – only lightly pocked with the occasional scream of rage. For this, no fancy graphics can substitute. I am waiting rather impatiently for the game updates that will fix the console version issues and make this game a perfect 10.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Having fun with science!
Plot - 6/10
Design - 8/10
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Despite a few issues with the console version, Kerbal Space Program is a an enjoyable sandbox-style game that rewards persistence above all else.