Meeple Station - Alpha Review

Big thank you to Vox Games who have given me a super early look at their new game which is the first game to be published by indie games news site IndieDB!

The game is a co-operative space station builder.  Initially this slightly put me off BUT unlike many multiplayer games of recent years, this includes a true single player experience, in fact there is currently only a single player mode implemented.

The game plays as a 'god game' where you do not directly control the occupants of your space station (the Meeple from the games title) but give general orders, such as what to build and where, which they will follow between taking care of their needs, eating and sleeping.

A station built over 3 levels.  Top left: The top level with living quarters, officers quarters and dining area; Top Right: Middle level with airlocks, storage and life support systems; Bottom: Start of science level with some crops for food
The version of the game I got to try only had the tutorial and single player 'Classic' game mode available with a campaign to be added at a later date.  When you launch this you first have to select a difficulty level.  This will determine the resources and cash available at the start of the game.

The first thing we have to do is build our basic station comprising of a hull, solar panels, power supply, life support system and a food source.  If you forget that, there is a reminder box telling you what you need for a functional station.  At this point you also hire your starting crew of Meeple from a list of jobs such as engineer, miner, janitor and refiner, however they are currently refining the Meeple with personalities and how they will be assigned jobs.

Now it is time to decide where your starting sector will be from the galaxy map.  You can click on the various identified sectors, or in fact any part of the map, and it will display information such as how resource rich the sector is, or how much threat that area is subject to.

Selecting our starting area on the galaxy map.  We can see this area has a plentiful supply of Brothium and Morilium and no dangers making this a good area to start developing our station
Now it is time to jump into the 'meat' of the game.  Once you have arrived in the sector your first job will be to establish your supply of resources which will allow you to develop your station.  To do this you will need to ensure that you have a miner, a refiner and a refinery with a power supply.  This will allow you to harness the potential of the ores in the surrounding asteroids.

Another source of resources is from the destroyed stations that you can find scattered throughout the galaxy.  By using the salvage/mine command you can send your engineers to dismantle them.  This can be useful if you need to get resources which you cannot refine from the available ores.

Asteroid in upper right allocated for mining whilst our engineer salvages a damaged station in the centre of the image
The final source of resources is through trade.  To be able to trade with passing ships you must have an airlock which is dedicated to trade.  To do this you simple mouse-over the airlock and hit 'T' and now passing ships will dock there.

You will receive a docking fee for each ship that stops and by clicking it whilst docked you can open the trade menu.  This will allow you to sell off surplus resources, to free up some of your limited storage space, buy resources which you cannot produce due to missing ores in your sector, and hire new Meeple.

Trade ships are also the way that officers get to your station when it has a high enough reputation.  You need to be careful though as some of these ships will be disguised pirates who will attack your station.  

Trading with a passing ship.  In the left panel you can see the available money and resources of both the trader and the player, while the right panel shows the Meeple on the ship looking for jobs
As I've mentioned above, as you develop your station it builds in reputation.  Once you reach >50 reputation an officer will arrive on a trade ship.  These officers are both useful and annoying.  They are useful as, providing you have an Officer Desk, they will allow you to conduct research which will give access to new items, such as shield generators and a quantum core engine, and Meeple types, such as scientists and guards.

The annoying aspect is that they will also assign tasks to your Meeple.  This means that they may instruct engineers to start building items, such as bulkhead doors, exactly in the position you don't want them.  Thankfully there is a cancel function you can use to cancel the order, or, if you don't notice until it has been built, you can use the same salvage/mine command as mentioned before to regain the resources.

Two officers in their quarters working on researching new technologies
As you play the game you will meet a number of challenges.  If your people are neglected, for example having to eat standing up, sleep on the floor, or having a dirty environment, they will become unhappy or maybe even depressed.  When this happens they occasionally decide to open an airlock without a space suit.  It is also possible that they will get lost when mining/salvaging if the asteroid is too far from your station.

You may also experience a meteor shower.  Without proper preparations, such as shields, these can be totally devastating and wipe out much of your station.  There are also mobs which will show up from time to time such as the peaceful space squids and hostile pirates.

An oxygen producing space squid hanging around in the officers quarters
I've had great fun playing this game over the past few months in pre-alpha and it's been good to see the game progress thus far with numerous additions and changes already with more to come (confirmed so far are FULL mod support and changes to the Meeple with personalities which will affect the job they do and how they interact with each other).  The devs are also very active and open with engaging the community on Discord and weekly posts to Imgur, including this post about the turbulent journey towards alpha so far.  Even though the game is early alpha I definitely recommend it as it is pretty stable and has decent performance.  The few bugs that I have encountered during playing have been quickly fixed.

The game is available to purchase now from the Vox games dedicated store and will be release on Steam at a future date.  You can also read more about the game and download the demo at their page.

Meeple Station - Alpha Review Meeple Station - Alpha Review Reviewed by Parcival on December 07, 2018 Rating: 5

No comments