Starlight Inception – Review (PS Vita)

Star Trek: Last Generation – Starlight Inception

Space: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Generica. Our mission: to seek out bland life and civilisations. To boringly go where no gamer has gone before. That would have been a more fitting introduction for Starlight Inception by Escape Hatch Entertainment. It promises immersive space combat with a deep lore, but somehow fails to deliver in both regards.

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Starlight Inception was funded through Kickstarter and managed to scrape together almost $160,000 in funding. Its original pitch looked promising, if a little bland, so where did it all go wrong?

At the start of the game your commanding officer recites some of the game’s lore. Something about world war 3 or 4; we don’t know, the story is extremely uninteresting. We tried to give it a chance, but it all seemed a bit generic. Our attempts at comprehending it did at least offer a short distraction from noticing how dated the game looks though.

Textures are low resolution and lack detail – although the game’s colour palette is very much of the “grey” variety anyway. Models are also low detail, low poly-count affairs. The developers didn’t even make an attempt to lip-sync character models with what they are saying, so expect flapping mouth syndrome. We got a distinct “budget title” feel while playing Starlight Inception, and it isn’t even a budget game! At $22.99 it isn’t unfair to expect a higher standard of visual presentation.

Despite our initial poor impressions, we were still keen to try our hand at piloting some cool spacecraft. Sadly, dogfights are an incredibly mixed-bag.Occasionally the game delivered enjoyable, almost exhilarating combat, and at others (most of the time) it  proved tedious, formulaic and downright dull. Typically, you will be tasked with escorting other ships or going on scouting missions with your wingmen, along the way you will face down waves of enemies. Most missions play out similarly:

  • Go to point Alpha
  • Kill enemies
  • Proceed to point Beta

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While piloting your aircraft you can choose between the third person camera or cockpit view, but who buys these games to play in third person? We had high hopes for some detailed, realistic cockpits but they were quickly and cruelly dashed. Much like the rest of the game, they are low resolution and muddy, and thanks to some extremely tiny font sizes it is also impossible to read weapon and armour status messages

Everything feels dated, from the visuals right down to the action. I’m sure this would all have been very innovative in the early ’90s, but gamers expect more these days.

Although, thus far the review has been mostly negative there are parts of the game that we did enjoy. Piloting your spacecraft and chasing down enemies feels (mostly) fluid and there’s a distinct feeling of weight that is quite satisfying. We also got a real kick out flying from outer space to a planet’s surface – a feature you don’t really see much in the genre.

It is important to note that the negatives far outweigh the positives. There really isn’t that much to like about Starlight Inception. It’s a lazy effort marred by a number of serious visual and presentation issues. It’s a game that the most die-hard fan of space combat would most likely turn their nose up at, and with good reason.  We’d be a little less offended by it if the price was more reasonable, but as it stands $23 is a rip-off. With a little more time and polish, Starlight Inception could have been a decent portable space adventure, but it’s just not worth your time or your money.

Starlight Inception is available now on PSN.