Kairosoft goes to space and adds a touch of combat to their much-love formula in Epic Astro Story
Oh, my poor editor here at Gamezebo must have been pulling his hair out waiting for this review. I missed my deadline by a good 12 hours, at least. The problem was that I couldn’t stop playing the game long enough to take the time to write these words. The only reason I’m writing them right now is because I purposefully left my phone at home when I went out to get breakfast, just to force myself to ignore the temptation long enough to bang out the words necessary to tell you that Epic Astro Story is awesome.
At this point you are probably familiar with the type of games that Kairosoft puts out. There are the team development strategy games like Game Dev Story or Grand Prix Story, and the broader-focused “empire” building of games like Hot Springs Story or Oh! Edo Towns. Epic Astro Story fits into the latter category nicely, and finds you developing a planet to attract tourists who will spend money gobbling up the food your citizens manufacture and prepare.
There are two main pieces to Epic Astro Story: city planning and exploration. You’ll build your city in areas that are broken up into tiled grids. Build paths for your residents and visitors, gardens to grow food, houses, hotels, landing pads, factories, attractions, etc. All of these things work together to help your planet attract more alien visitors that determine how prosperous you’ll be. In order for your city to grow, you must go through the unexplored areas completely to unlock another block of tiles. You’ll select a group of your residents to form a party that clears out the area, discovering research points, money, or absolutely nothing along the way.
For those who are pretty familiar with other Kairosoft games, one of the biggest additions is the chance to “battle” enemies in unexplored areas. Everything is presented in a style reminiscent of old turn-based RPGs but the fight is played out automatically. You’ll line up the members of your party on up to four horizontal paths with the first member fighting until their health is gone or there’s no more enemies in the path. If all your members are defeated you’ll leave the exploration immediately, but you’ll have the chance to re-enter the area (and pay the fee again) to try clearing it out from where you left off. Your party members (or any resident) can be equipped with a special weapon, armor, and attack to aid in battle. It’s an interesting addition to their formula that we hope to see expanded on in future Kairosoft games.
Epic Astro Story doesn’t immediately reveal itself until you figure out its rhythm and get past the first hour or two. There are times, when funds have dwindled, that you’ll spend some time just letting the game run while you wait for your city to get in the black again. Once you start successfully exploring the money comes rolling in pretty regularly. At that point, prepare for time (and your phone’s battery) to disappear like magic. There’s a lot going on, but it’s presented in a way that’s easy and fun to manage without feeling like you’re getting lost or bogged-down. I don’t know how Kairosoft has figured out how to tap into that “just one more round” addiction so well, but in Epic Astro Story they’ve created one of their most addicting games yet.