GAME REVIEW: Habitat: A Thousand Generations in Orbit

I have always felt that habitat was a pleasing word. I admit that I only really ever heard about it in relation to the natural dwellings of birds and animals; it conjures up pleasant natural images. 4gency’s Habitat however, is a tale of humans dispossessed of their natural home and scrapping for survival in space.

Your task in Habitat is to create a new habitat for humans in high orbit around the Earth. What’s wrong with Earth you ask? That’s something you have to find out yourself too. You will be attacked by various enemies whilst going about the business of survival so it’s probably safe to assume humanity either annoyed some other race or built something silly that has now gone haywire. Silly humans.

Habitat Screenshot 1

The game is billed as a ‘real-time, physics-driven orbital strategy game’ and that is a very good description. It is controlled with a mixture of keyboard and mouse, the keys mainly used to control the camera, the mouse to issue instructions or activate things by clicking on them. You start out with a space shuttle and a couple of floating engineers. Around you is various debris, from mundane things like a school bus to the more bizarre like a weaponized T-Rex head. Clicking on the desired bit of flotsam gives you a brightly coloured approximation which you can rotate and place on any free anchor point on your shuttle. Once clicked to confirm, one of your engineers will move out and retrieve the object, attaching it when it is positioned properly. You have now expanded your habitat.

Habitat Screenshot 2

Various objects take the form of weapons which can be attached to your habitat and activated by left-clicking. Highlights are the buzz-saw and the Mass Accelerator (which enables you to launch junk and anything else that enters its field of influence). The combat itself entails manoeuvring your ship via whatever thrusters you have installed, with the aim of lining up your desired weapon with the approaching enemy. This in itself can be hard work as the physics-driven controls encourage your ship to carry on drifting after a thruster burn. You can tap the space bar for an all stop, but this costs you fuel.

Habitat Screenshot 3

Habitat is in the Steam Early Access section, which means it is still under ongoing development. As a consequence, some features that we might all take for granted in our games are not included yet. Principle among them at the moment is the lack of a save game option. What you do get is a procedurally generated playground to explore, fight and build in. I also did not experience any crashes or horrendous glitches, save for a few quirks in the game mechanics that will no doubt be sorted in due course.

Would I recommend buying Habitat in the state it’s in now? If you view it as a creative zany playground with some interesting things to use and manipulate, I think it is probably worth the low asking price now. If you are unsure, or like your games to have a bit more scope, I would wait a while and see how development progresses.

Habitat is out now on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux. The final game will also be on Xbox One.

Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Casey Douglass

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