Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons is a card collecting RPG that’s oh so close to being formulaic, but makes up for it through an interesting storyline that’s tonally fairly accurate for the popular show. Its free-to-play elements might eventually drag you down but for a while, fans are going to like what’s here.

The game follows the plot of the reimagined series very well, starting with the initial attack on Caprica that features in the pilot. Taking the role of Commander William Adama, your key aim is to help the remaining Colonial forces to survive attack from the Cylons. Oh, and attempt to piece humanity back together again. The story is told through a series of dialogue scenes, featuring popular characters like Colonel Tigh, and Starbuck. The dialogue is appropriate for the characters too, ensuring this doesn’t feel too ‘cookie cutter’-ish in its exposition. You’ll soon find yourself warming to your favorites and despairing at your not so favorites.

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Where Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons does feel more like business is usual is when it comes to how you play the game. Most of the time, you’ll be fighting in battles against Cylon raiders. It’s turn-based combat in which you pick an attack and let it rip, before your enemies do the same back at you. Predictably, success mostly comes down to whoever has the strongest ship, rather than anything to do with skill or strategy.

Each ship has a different strength and weakness, but Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons highlights exactly what these are, meaning you don’t have to remember much. At first, your ships might only have one or two abilities to choose from, but these steadily build up to four. Some are attack orientated, while others can repair/heal your existing ships. Strategy extends as far as knowing when to heal and when to strike.

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Each battle is fairly quick to complete. It’s even faster if you hit the speed up button or choose to ‘autoplay’ with the game picking out your best moves quickly. That takes out some of the fun but when you get to stages that require grinding, you’ll appreciate not having to put the effort in.

That’s sort of the issue with Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons. It’s all very focused on unlocking better things through chipping away steadily. You earn new ships by opening Fleet Packs – card packets that contain ship blueprints – while also earning currency to pay for such boosts. It’s very free-to-play friendly, ensuring you don’t have to spend money exactly, but it’s going to help you a lot if you do.

There’s also a lot of different currencies to keep an eye on, with ships needing multiple different materials for different things. On the plus side, Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons does a reasonable job of explaining it all, and it sort of makes logical sense.

You do end up somewhat bogged down in the details though. The heady allure of daily missions to work towards, the constant balancing of currencies, the repetitive battles. It all takes the edge off an otherwise fairly compelling storyline – one that’s familiar to fans, but still welcoming to newbies. Is it worth sticking with for the sake of the storyline? Absolutely, but don’t be surprised if that’s why you hang around, rather than for the sake of how Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons plays out. It’s really quite formulaic elsewhere.