With that said, it’s an unfortunate feeling when I realize that I’ve never really had that space exploration itch truly scratched. Gross metaphors aside, every sci-fi game that I’ve spent time with has checked off only a handful of boxes on my “what I would like to do in space” checklist. In Faster Than Light, I absolutely loved the idea of commanding a crew, managing my ship, and encountering events along my voyage. With Starbound, I got swept away in jumping from one solar system to the next, discovering new materials and furnitures, and decorating the crap out of my super sexy spaceship. Playing through No Man’s Sky gave me the first person experience I’ve wanted with the harsh survival aspect, wonder, and curiosity that comes with space and interstellar travel. However, what each of these games failed to do was tie these facets together in a cohesive and interesting way.
But then I met Brian McRae, CEO of Fenix Fire Entertainment, who introduced a game to me that might just be the space experience I’ve been quite literally (figuratively) dying for. It’s called Osiris: New Dawn and it comes with all the promise a multiplayer space exploration and survival game should!
The story and setting of Osiris: New Dawn isn’t exactly unheard of, but it sets up the premise of the game nicely. The game takes place in the year of 2046 with you, a faceless—though customizable—space explorer, sent on a mission to colonize the solar system of Gliese 581. When your ship malfunctions and crash lands on an alien planet, it’s up to you to “Matt Damon” your way out. If that reference is lost on you, I highly suggest you watch The Martian as, just by looking at some of these screenshots, you can probably tell that they share some similarities.
First, let me start by discussing my conversation with McRae, one of the two people developing Osiris: New Dawn. To him, building a world that players could feel enveloped in, completely immersed with the stirring yet unsettling emotions of being out in space, lost on an alien planet. To achieve this, the two-man team turned to some of their favorite sci-fi films such as The Martian and Prometheus. They drew inspiration from how these films portrayed the beauty of other worlds while also paying close attention to the threats and dangers one would encounter when trying to survive the uncooperativeness of space.
The game can primarily be broken down into three very expansive sections: survival, base building, and exploration. Survival, as you can imagine, requires you to find food and water while maintaining your oxygen levels. Right from the start, you find yourself face down in the dirt on an alien planet, your ship in pieces behind you as if you were launched through its windshield, and… wait, what’s this beeping? Oh, you have a crack in your helmet!
At this point, I turn to McRae and crack a joke, “If only I had some duct tape!”
“Well, let’s see what you have in your inventory.”
Sure enough, stashed somewhere in my space suit was a nice roll of “patch tape,” allowing me to successfully Matt Damon myself out of my first problem. Now if you’re wondering if this survival aspect of the game would turn into a hassle, needing to eat food and drink water every 20 minutes, then worry not! McRae explains that finding supplies would only really become an issue when out galavanting farther away from the base. Once you set up the necessary equipment, staying within the vicinity will keep you at arm’s reach of any type of sustenance needed to live. Hearing this was a huge relief.
Naturally, next on the agenda was to scavenge for parts and materials so I could build my swanky new space condo.
Crafting systems and base building in Osiris: New Dawn works very much as you would expect it to. Collect the necessary materials, go through a log of crafting options, and select the structure that you want to construct. Once selected, your on-screen crosshair will turn into a ghost image of what it is you want to build allowing you to turn and angle it to your liking, find a suitable location to place it down and then finally constructing it. The building process only takes a few moments and once done, it materializes in front of you and your new space home is ready to be lived in. The housewarming party is a little lonely, but you’ll get over it.
When building more complex structures, you’ll find the building process is a bit more consuming, both in materials and in options for customization. For instance, after building my inflatable dome (which came equipped with a sweet but sad looking cot), I went on to construct a habitat frame. Think of this as a single level octagonal room with no walls or roof. Instead, you’re given the opportunity to build and customize each wall (color, material, windowed, etc). Eventually, you’ll be able to build new, larger habitats and structures, connecting and interlinking them until you find yourself in a place worthy of being called your central HQ.
As you can imagine, building your base requires quite a bit of resources and materials, especially since you’re constructing each individual wall separately. At this point, you’ll find yourself edging farther and farther away from your territory and into the unknown of the alien planet. Here is where Prometheus fans will definitely get their fill of the game. The Fenix Fire team does an excellent job in making the creatures that inhabit the world look, act, and move absolutely terrifyingly. Given, I only got a chance to encounter two types during my short demo: a spider-crab looking thing (something straight out of Starship Troopers) and a ground running horseshoe crab. They might not sound like much in the beginning, but once the night cycle begins and you’re forced to focus on a small flashlight spot on the screen, suddenly the game begins to teeter into the horror genre.
Space monsters aside, the movement and combat of the game felt great. On foot, you definitely get a sense of realism with the slow responsiveness that you would feel (probably) while trying to walk on a planet with less gravity. If walking on foot is too slow for you, then open up your menu and craft yourself a new ride! Osiris: New Dawn has a growing list of vehicles you can build in order to cover greater distances in less time like a 8-wheeled land rover or a speedy hover bike. If you have issues with a giant creature, build yourself a giant mech to fight it!
McRae also notes that they’re hard at work on developing ways to build spacecrafts that can leave this current planet in search of a new one.
All of this may sound a little daunting, cold, and lonely, but it won’t have to be. The single player campaign is more of a venue to learn how to play the game and the aspects of survival before actually jumping into the live universe. Yes, Osiris: New Dawn will be coming fully equipped with multiplayer options where you can build bases, fight monsters, and explore other planets together with a party of other players! McRae also notes that creating and hosting a private server for your friends will be available in case building a home and colonizing your solar system without the threat of trolls is really what you seek.
Overall, Osiris: New Dawn was an incredibly impressive and immersive experience and could very well be the sci-fi space exploration game that I’ve been hoping for this past year. At the moment, we’ve been told that an early build of Osiris: New Dawn will be available for Early Access in the coming weeks, but have not heard of an official date just yet.
I’ll be definitely keeping an eye on this indie title, so stay tuned for more updates!