Some of the biggest tactical strategy games share the same problem. They put you in charge of a fighting force that needs to be trained from the ground up to combat an unyielding foe. This is a decent formula for newcomers to the strategy genre, but we’re long overdue for something fresh and exciting.
What ends up happening is that you wind up with an army of indistinguishable clones. It’s so off putting that sometimes your enemies have more personality than your soldiers. Unless the game has a playable main character, your emotional connection to your squad is limited to the handful that received the most training. But it can difficult to care for these elites when there’s a long list of near identical soldiers ready to take their place when they fall in combat.
That’s why games like Element: Space are a welcome change. This new title combines tactical strategy with role-playing elements. The main character, Captain Pietham (who is almost like Han Solo if he joined the galactic special forces, instead of becoming a smuggler), takes part in every mission, which evolves into a branching sci-fi storyline. Instead of hiring and training soldiers from the ground up, players balance between picking up new characters, gaining weapons and resources, and progressing in the fight against a mysterious enemy.
Each character has a distinct set of skills, personality, and motivations. So, instead of assembling an army of disposable clones, players get a team of unique characters who know how to shoot straight. This empowers gamers to find squad mates with abilities that complement each other instead of managing trainees and veteran units across several classes.
For example, Pietham uses a grappling hook to pull a enemy from cover, while his robotic squad mate, Zero, takes away its shields. Then a martial arts specialist like Alice can run in and deliver the finishing blow. Leveling characters up improves these skills and unlocks new ones to take on stronger enemies. Additionally, Element: Space doesn’t rely on random dice rolls for combat, so there’s no danger of missing sure shots.
Most importantly, not every character is available during a single play through. Player decisions will determine which characters he or she encounters. Additionally, each character has his or her own beliefs. Making dialogue decisions that fit into their beliefs, such as choosing the justice system over vigilante killing, might impress upon them and gain their loyalty. Meanwhile, developing a strong rapport with characters will unlock special skills to enhance their performance in combat.
Making friends also extends beyond the player’s squad. Element: Space features multiple factions, and catering to their needs could earn access to special weapons, equipment, and resources. However, time is precious, and players must prepare their squad and uncover the secrets behind a mysterious enemy before the clock expires. Failure will destroy the only chance the galaxy has for peace, causing it to descend into chaos and war.
More tactical strategy games should move past forcing players into repetitive level grinds with identical units. Having characters that players can form a stronger connection with strengthens the overall experience by putting the focus on story, instead of how many veteran units you might have.
Element: Space offers tactical strategy game fans a deep experience using fully fleshed out characters and a rich sci-fi story. It’s a game that gives more power to players by letting them shape the plot, all while removing the frustrations of losing to random dice rolls.
Visit the official Element: Space website for more information about the game and its characters.