That story, of a vast civilian population forced into a total war footing, Partisans tells very well indeed. If you’ve got even a passing interest in the war on the Eastern front, or you enjoyed the various Commandos, Desperados and Shadow Tacticses of this world, I’d recommend it without hesitation. This machine kills fascists, one quicksave at a time.
All of these issues are fixable (some quite easily, I’d hope), and just a little extra content could do so much to hide the edges of the game. I hope it comes. Because the compulsion reactor at the heart of Space Crew is putting out more power than is currently being used.
The central experience – of being a pilot in a Star Wars – is masterfully crafted, and I can’t find much to fault with it. Squadrons is probably the most fun I’ve had with any piece of Star Wars media since my teens, in fact, and it frequently invokes a joy I haven’t felt since playing TIE Fighter in 1995.
So there you go. If you like XCOM-ish things, The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk should be in your library – just so long as you don’t mind a bit of hamfisted zaniness. I don’t think it’s one you’ll want to replay again and again, but it’s a substantial, well-crafted effort that’s definitely worth your time.
Worst of all, so much of the effort that’s gone into making the very deepest locales seem melancholy and strange is wasted, as there’s no sense of scale. Thanks to handwaved technology, Morai is capable of diving in her regular suit even at abyssal depths, and there’s no real sense in having to travel to get there. The madness-inviting vertical isolation of the deeps, the monstrous cold and the pressure, are all absent. These lonely pits feel like any of the other levels: roughly oval patches of water, about so high and so wide, with a certain number of fish spawned within them. It’s not that I’m unimpressed, or ungrateful, you understand. I just think the developers set themselves a near-impossible task.
In the end, I’ve abandoned every single one of my campaign playthroughs shockingly early, and returned to the sandbox mode to muck around with the things I learned in the wars. And admittedly, I’m better every time I return.