This will likely be very, very biased because Starflight is one of my top-three games of all time. YES OF ALL TIME DARN YOU. It was my very first DOS-based game, which I got with my very first DOS-based computer (a venerable Tandy 1000 EX), and it sucked more hours of my life at the time than anything else up to that point. My best friend and I spent hours playing it together, taking notes, discovering new story tidbits and so on. It also, to this day, still has the best and most emotional story twists I’ve encountered in any game I’ve played. So yeah, this is gonna be biased as hellllllll, but I wanted y’all to know that going in. With that said, let’s get started…
How Easy Was it to Get Into?
For ME it was because I’ve completed this game three times, and every time I return to it, it’s like getting on a bicycle. For a new player I’m not too sure, honestly. There’s no mouse control to be had at. All. The keyboard controls are simplistic as heck, but some might find them simplistic to a fault. That said, if you can wrap your head around a 1986 interface, you can likely get on board with this.
What Did You Think of The Game’s Usability?
Again, I personally think it’s fine, but I grew up with this game and am very, very familiar with it. For a new player, they might find the keyboard-only control scheme frustrating. If they’re coming from another version, say the Genesis version, to the DOS version, they might also find it frustrating since the DOS version isn’t as robust as the Genesis version. I’m finding the opposite is true, as I have so much experience with the DOS version that I’m having issues wrapping my head around the Genesis version. That said, again, if you can wrap your head around a very old interface, the usability will be fine, as the core of the interface is very, very simplistic.
Was the Gameplay Challenging and Fun?
Yes and yes. The gameplay is challenging for a variety of reasons, such as limited funds, limited fuel, limited time and so on. The game gives you an entire galaxy to explore, but allows you to only see as much of it as your ship, crew and fuel supply can handle. At first this is good, as you don’t have the resources to get to the really dangerous stuff yet, but once you start kitting out your ship and training your crew, the universe just opens up all the more. This game is so much fun, to me, that it’s silly. Few games since have given me that sense of openness and exploration that Starflight gives, the sense of discovery is also unmatched. So yeah, I find this game VERY, very fun. Challenging too, since you have to manage your crew and resources very carefully, or you’ll wind up with dead crewmates or a ship out of fuel in the middle of nowhere.
Did you Find any Glaring Flaws with the Game?
Again, biased. I don’t think there are any huge flaws with this game. Sure, some might find it grindy or slow or boring but I loooooove all those things about it. Spend an hour or two mining on a planet? NO PROBLEM. Spent ten minutes flying to one solar system? BRING IT. So while some might see the pacing of the game as flaw, I think it works perfectly. The only main issue I have with it is its save system. Since it alters the files TO THE ENTIRE GAME as you play it, saving is a bit tricky. If you die and haven’t saved in a while, you’re done, and you have to reset the game. It’s a bit weird, but it worked well enough.
How Did it Look and Sound?
Are you going to Keep Playing It?
I wish I could, but I don’t have the time. This is a game that takes dozens, if not more hours to complete. It’s worth the time investment, I just don’t have the time myself. I’ve also completed it three times in the past 30 years, so that’s pretty good I think. ;)
Which Were Your Favorite and Least Favorite Parts of The Game?
Favorite parts were the discovery aspects. What am I going to find in that ruin? Who am I going to meet in orbit of that planet? Who’s going to shoot at me today? Least favorite part was dying and then discovering I couldn’t restore an earlier save.
Should I Buy It?
Yes. This is an iconic part of space gaming history, and to this day one of the finest space games you will ever come across. You should buy it just to see what PC gaming in 1986 was like. You should buy it because it has an amazing story and well-written characters to meet (god I love the Veloxi so much). You should buy it to get a sense of the universe opening up before you the first time you open the starmap and realize all of those colored dots are potential adventures. So yes, you should buy it if you haven’t already.
I did say this would be biased, didn’t I? Starflight has a very, very special place in my heart. While it’s no longer my #1 game (it’s now behind both Freespace 2 and TIE Fighter), it will always be in my top pantheon of space games, and I doubt anything will remove it from its perch. This is a very special game, my friends, one that sadly hasn’t been replicated I feel (though I’ve yet to play the fan-made Lost Colony, that is coming up). This game deserves a place in any space gamer’s library, and with it being on GOG, there’s no excuse not to own a copy. Thanks for reading my inane ravings, and I’ll see you next week for Starflight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula!