TL;DR – Conflict on a planetary scale that combines orbital mechanics with the chaos of Worms
Interplanetary Review –
When you play online games with a group of friends occasionally, there will be the call of “what does everyone have?” followed by everyone scanning through their Steam lists for options as a suggestion after suggestion gets vetoed by a different member of the group. Last week this happened with my friends and them someone threw out the request Interplanetary, a game that I played a bit when it first came out in 2015 but hadn’t thought much of it since. Then we discovered that Interplanetary had an Enhanced Edition and well we loaded it up and cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war.
So to set the scene, Interplanetary is a game set in what I would assume is a very dystopian universe. You play the role of one of the planets in a solar system that has just descended into war. You don’t have access to space ships, but you can build railguns on your planets and rain down fire across the solar system. From a mechanics perspective, Interplanetary is a turn-based artillery –focused strategy game. In your turn, you can build new weapons, resource, or defence buildings. You can pick research to boost your attack, and most importantly, you can fire your weapons. This is a game that takes a lot of inspiration from Hard Science Fiction so where you position your weapons on your planet is essential as it rotates, as it orbits around the sun. To attack, you will need to set an orbital insertion path while taking into account the orbits and gravity of every other planetary body in the solar system.
One of Interplanetary’s strengths is its resource management system that governs everything you do in the game. Sure you could fire all your weapons, but then you won’t have any energy to power your defences when you get attacked. Do you want to build and increase your infrastructure, but then one of your enemies is in the perfect targeting arc. Do you want to create many mines to rip resources out of your planet, but what do you do if you run your planet dry. It all plays into the Risk/Reward of every action and the fact that you can never honestly know what your competitors will do that turn. Also, the reality that you will never have enough resources to do everything you want to do.
The other strength of that game is that moment when everyone confirms, and you get to see the chaos unfold as you watch all the projectiles fire across the solar system. You watch in fear as those bullets arc across the solar system and bear down upon your planet, hoping that you left enough energy to project everything. Conversely, watching your own shots fly out from your world hoping they will make it to their intended targets. Then there is the next phase where all those shots that missed start bouncing across the system potentially slingshotting around that rogue gas giant and coming right back at you. There was a moment in one of my games where I fired the Asteroid superweapon and watched as it swung around the planet I targeted and then fanning out across the solar system raining chaos down on everyone including some significant friendly damage.
However, it is that moment where we see the strengths and the weaknesses of the game. This is a game that I think you can only play with friends because so much of the joy is listening to everyone respond to the chaos as it plays out and then people taking check of the carnage. But on that same line, this is a game when you need people to move through their turns quite quickly, and if that does not happen, it can drag out significantly. In my playthroughs, I have found that there is a point where there is a winner, but then it can take a while for the game to actually resolve.
In the end, do we recommend Interplanetary Enhanced Edition? Yes, yes, we would. I enjoyed the strategy of managing the resources of this sort of clinical puzzle that you are trying to work out. But then you combine it with the chaos of the attack phase that you can not have control over. These two sides lead to a bunch of fun as they intersect with the mess.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the staff of Interplanetary
Game Design – Ville Huohvanainen, Sasu Kemppainen, Tuukka Peltoniemi & Niklas Saari
Game Programming – Jussi Hyttinen, Marko Keronen, Jarno Laaksonen, Olli Leinonen, Riku Leinonen, Alisa Moilanen, Teemu Tammela, Antti Tikkakoski & Atte Vuorinen
Game Art – Jukka Kivijärvi, Minn Nguyen, Harri Pulsa, Tarita Tammela & Tomi Tammela
Developer – Team Jolly Roger
Publisher – Team 17