With winter in full swing and lots of snow in the last week, I haven’t had the desire or need to be outside much except to shovel a few times. It was a good opportunity for me to settle in front of my computer and take a stab at IXION, a galactic city-building game from Bulwark Studios. Truthfully, I don’t have much experience with space games. I’m a huge Star Wars fan but outside of that franchise, I can’t say I’ve ever gravitated toward space stations and building an ecosystem among the planets. The last builder game I played was LEGO® Bricktales and I really enjoyed the sandbox-style challenges. But IXION … now that is a whole new level of building.
Taking on the position of Administrator of the Tiqqun, a prototype space station, I was given the responsibility of successfully engineering a complex infrastructure that is functional and sustainable, specifically when it comes to resources and employees. While attempting to create a new domain for humans and figuring out a long-term solution is crucial, this can only be completed through research and management; which I soon found to be time-consuming tasks. Additionally, there wasn’t much guidance provided when tasks were thrown at me and I had to start figuring out the complexity of my work. There are many working parts that all gel harmoniously, but the learning curve at the beginning of the game was a bit frustrating.
As is the case with any new thing, it takes time to adapt and fully understand how things function. This being said, even once I started to develop an understanding of IXION‘s mechanics with respect to mining resources, developing buildings, and ensuring my population was happy, accomplishing these tasks still felt tedious. I found that my resources would decline faster than I expected, something that quickly started to impact the well-being of my space colony. My employees rapidly became overworked and that resulted in declining morale and happiness. As this occurred, it became impossible to regain any momentum that I had at the start. This is partly on account of there being limited time to complete missions and either I don’t have the smarts to understand how to properly manage an ecosystem like this or IXION needs a better management system. Perhaps different gameplay modes such as a sandbox mode where players can have endless resources and develop skills without feeling pressured and overwhelmed would be a gentle way of giving newbies a fighting chance.
IXION’s gameplay honestly isn’t difficult to pick up, it’s just infuriating. Buildings constantly need to be fixed and this doesn’t feel realistic at all. If you’re going to build a structure it should have, well, structure and sturdiness. On top of that, the space station itself is constantly getting damaged, which in turn impacts its buildings and sectors, not to mention the people, and the resources aboard. When one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong. This creates a frustrating chain of events, which in my opinion, shouldn’t be occurring. I think there is a lot of clunky gameplay that needs to be addressed by the developers to improve the experience for players.
My experience with IXION wasn’t all doom and gloom. I will say that the story is intriguing, the soundtrack is beautiful, and the voice actors are excellent. Wonderful execution in all these areas is something that initially gave me hope. While all these features helped to redeem the game somewhat, overall this was not my cup of tea. When I play a game I want to escape into another world and enjoy the atmosphere, (or at least feel immersed in it,) but IXION left me feeling overwhelmed and stressed. While I wouldn’t personally recommend this game, maybe you’re someone who wants a challenge and thrives in conditions where you have to perform tedious tasks in order to preserve the human race. If that’s you, then check out the game on Steam. I’ll be busy laboring when I’m actually on duty for work hours, not while I’m busy playing a videogame.
Gameplay - 4/10
Plot / Writing - 7/10
Design / Visuals - 7/10
Pros + Lovely narrative and voice actors that help set the tone of the game + Beautiful soundtrack with spacey vibes
Cons – Tedious tasks that are impossible to complete – Clunky gameplay that only makes the experience frustrating
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