Having seen the reviews youâ€™ve made the decision to download Full of StarsÂ — but what now? Having read the reviews, youâ€™ll know that Ars Thaneaâ€™s clever blend of game book and space-based action-adventure isnâ€™t messing about.
Like a fantastic choose-your-own-adventure novel come to life, every decision made, every action or inaction will have consequences that shape the rest of your journey through the game. With not only your own fate, but that of humanity as a whole on your shoulders, to say the stakes are high with each decision is perhaps the understatement of the century.
All of this can feel more than a little intimidating. Throw in the fact that each trip through the game will (once you pass the opening stages) feel different from the last, and it can be downright terrifying. While it isnâ€™t possible to hold your hand, what we can do is give you the lay of the land and take some of the guesswork out of your first couple of hours with Full of Stars (if you can last that long).
Full of Stars doesnâ€™t simply rely on one single in-game resource or currency. Thatâ€™d be far too easy. Instead, youâ€™re going to need to keep track of leadership points, passengers, idium and idium crystal.
From left to right across the menu:
Leadership points â€“ Being a leader comes at a cost in Full of Stars. When you need to ask your crew or passengers to take a risk on your behalf itâ€™s likely youâ€™re going to need to sacrifice leadership points. While leadership points are gained from completing in-flight objectives, they arenâ€™t as easy to obtain as it might seem and should be used sparingly.
Passengers â€“ This is the number of people on your ship, both crew and non-crew. While you can increase the capacity of your ship and with it the number of people you can immediately save, unless youâ€™re a Full of Stars superstar (and even then) youâ€™re almost certainly going to lose some folks along the way. Sometimes this will happen through accidents and ship crashes. Other times itâ€™ll be a result of decisions youâ€™ve made.
There will be times where the gameâ€™s story will ask you to sacrifice the lives of others for the greater good or to save yourself. These arenâ€™t comfortable decisions to make. The extent to which youâ€™re comfortable making these sacrifices will be personal, but ultimately as long as your passenger number stays at 1 (just you) or above youâ€™re still in the game.
Idium â€“ Idium is the white glowing stuff you collect with ease as you navigate through space in the action portions of the game. In action mode you need to pick up as much as possible if you want to use your overdrive. Outside of action mode it can be used to upgrade your ship. Certain decisions (often comparatively low-stakes) will also let you exchange idium for, hopefully, a better outcome than taking a big risk.
Idium Crystals â€“ Hard to obtain and easy to spend,Â itâ€™s idium crystals thatâ€™ll make your world go around. Used to allow you to continue a flight in the wake of a ship knock, attack or full-blown crash they are your lifeline. They are also needed to upgrade your crew quarter capacity and in order to make the decisions that are most likely to yield a positive outcome.
You can collect idium in flight, but in a given flight youâ€™ll be really lucky to pick up 10 crystals. It takes 10 crystals to get past your second knock-in alone.
Additional idium crystals can be purchased using real money, but with there being other ways to support the gameâ€™s developers (ex. for $5.49 you can keep your core permanently charged so you never have to wait between attempts) spending on idium crystals might feel a bit like cheating.Â Still, it’s good to know the option is there.
In the story mode of the game, whether after a crash or upon landing safely at your destination, youâ€™re going to be called upon to make some serious decisions. There are three main response/decision types.
No symbol â€“ Often the least complicated option, these responses donâ€™t require you to make any immediate sacrifices or take any massive risks. Unfortunately, they often are just a way of temporarily delaying having to make a major decision thatâ€™ll take sacrifice or involve a life or death risk.
Danger symbol â€“ Thereâ€™s a 50/50 chance (or so it appears) that this decision will work out in your favour. While a positive result will mean, at the very least, that youâ€™ll be able to fly another day (sometimes improving your position), a negative result can spell immediate disaster, putting your crew, your ship or even you on life support (if thatâ€™s not broken too!).
Idium/People/Crystals â€“ Many of the decisions youâ€™ll be asked to make will require you to sacrifice or let go of idium, crew members, passengers, or crystals in the hopes of survival (or safe passage to the next site). Making regular sacrifices can deplete your resources rather quickly, but are safer bets than â€˜risky businessâ€™ decisions which could have even larger consequences. Thereâ€™s an old saying that â€˜money canâ€™t buy you happinessâ€™, but in Full of Stars, investing in extra resources (crystals in particular) can buy you out of some sticky situations and unhappiness.
There are four aspects of your ship that over the course of your journey youâ€™ll want to think about upgrading. While your ship has seen better days, upgrading judiciously taking into consideration your available resources and ability to replenish them, will put you in a much better position to take on the challenges ahead.
Mining Laser â€“ Upgrades with idium, the mining laser cuts through the rock immediately in your path. Like the bomb, the mining laser charges with concentrated (green) idium and has to be fully charged before it can be used. You can’t have both the laser and bomb activated at the same time so if you have a strong preference one way or the other, this is probably where you should concentrate your energy.
Bomb â€“ Upgraded using idium, the bomb allows you to blast through meteorites. Tap the screen or swipe down to activate in flight. Bombs are charged through green idium in flight (different from idium crystals) and upgrades increase the blast radius (allowing you to get more rock out of your way in one go).Â
Overdrive â€“ In the game overdrive allows you to sail through part of your trip at hyper speed. While in overdrive you wonâ€™t have to contend with planets, rocks or missiles so using overdrive frequently can mean the difference between life and death in flight. Collecting idium in-flight helps you charge the overdrive and post-flight helps you upgrade your overdrive capabilities. Initially upgrades will just increase the length of time spent in overdrive (and with it the distance you can travel), however, itâ€™ll become possible to add additional overdrive slots. Once youâ€™ve got two overdrive slots youâ€™re going to need to swipe up with both thumbs otherwise youâ€™ll only be using half your potential at a time.
Crew Quarters â€“ Each upgrade increases the number of crew and passengers you carry on board. The more people on board, the more you can help. For the more selfish among you, this also means there are more people who can be sacrificed in order to save yourself when times get tough. Crew Quarters can only be upgraded using idium crystals, so itâ€™s something to look at after a big score rather than on the fly.