In Starborne Wanderers, you play a hotshot Jedi-esque starship pilot tasked with mining ore, running trade between solar systems, blasting pirates to ashes in turn-based battles and just generally saving humanity from extinction. I'm a little bit in love.
I'm used to seeing Moscow-based developer Game Insight's name next to hidden object games and city builders, so Starborne Wanderers comes as bit of a surprise. I say somewhat, as the developer gave me a general overview of the game in a conference call about its 2013 lineup earlier this year -- I just wasn't quite sure what to expect.
Certainly not one part space adventure game and one part turn-based role-playing.
You're a promising young cadet, fresh from training, ready to defend the universe's last major bastion of humanity. Your skills are exceptional -- so much so that it makes NPCs speak as if English wasn't their first language -- so you're sent to train with the mysterious Wanderers. The Wanderers are Jedi, but they can't say Jedi, so they are Wanderers.
Through this training you unlock the mystical forces you didn't know you possessed.
You're such a Jedi, only instead of using that Force Lightning on people, you're using it on enemy ships, helping ensure they explode before you do, always a sound strategy.
Combat is a turn-based affair, with both sides taking shots until one is dead. More than just blind button pushing, there are attack combos to perform, power-ups to activate, missiles to fire -- it's a very active turn-based, growing more involved as your opponents increase in power.
While there's a primary storyline to follow in Starborne Wanderers, there's also a great deal of freedom to do what you want in your downtime. Mine for resources to sell, haul cargo between stations, hunt pirates for cash -- there are missions available for whatever mood you might be in.
There is so much here. Missions to take on, ships to acquire and upgrade, new weapons to acquire. For the fan of space combat -- those of us patiently waiting for Star Citizen -- it almost seems too good to be true.
Maybe it is. I feel I've barely scratched the surface of Starborne Wanderers, and there's still so much to do. So far I've not felt pressured into spending real money on ship upgrades or special weapons. I have, however, run out of energy, causing me to set aside the game and wait or pay -- the recharge is relatively quick, but no less frustrating. It's a free-to-play game, and some degree of frustrating limitation is par for the course.
But overall, Starborne Wanderers is a wonderful little slice of space adventure that took me (almost) completely by surprise.
Genre: Casual Space Adventure/Turn-Based RPG Developer: Game Insight Platform: iOS, Android (Coming Soon) Price: Free