App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Among the Stars—the board game where you compete with others to make the best space station—has made its way to mobile, which should be a good thing. The game’s turn-based nature and relative accessibility make it seem like it would be a prime pickup for people who enjoy other digital board games like Ascension or 7 Wonders. That said, this digital adaptation is pretty hard to play online with others, making Among the Stars quite the disappointment.
In Among the Stars, you play against one to three other players as you each build your own space station. This is done much in the same way that 7 Wonders has you build ancient civilizations by drawing single cards from a hand and then passing what’s left of the hand to your opponents.
Depending on the distribution of cards in each hand, there are multiple approaches you can take to build the “best” space station, but all of these revolve around selecting cards that work well together. On top of trying to pick the best possible cards, you also have to contend with having a limited budget and power grid, as well as opponents that may take cards that you need for your station earn maximum victory points.
Although Among the Stars is meant to be a multiplayer experience, this digital version has a surprisingly robust single-player campaign. In it, you compete against AI opponents, but your objective isn’t simply to win. Each level layers on additional victory conditions on top of simply building a space station that produces the most victory points, and there are even rule modifiers present in some missions.
This makes Among the Stars’s single-player offerings feel much more robust than simply standard AI matches (which, of course, you can also opt to do separately if you want), and adds quite a bit of replayability to the game, even if you don’t want to take your skills online.
As great as Among the Stars’s single-player offerings are though, the same can’t quite be said of the game’s online functionality. The issues with the game’s multiplayer start before you even get into a match, as you’re forced to create a dedicated account just to play Among the Stars online, which involves providing an email address that then gets displayed to all players when you join a match.
On top of this, there aren’t a ton of matches to choose from at any given time, and joining one doesn’t mean you’ll actually get to play. In my time with Among the Stars, only a handful of the matches I joined actually started, and even fewer of those were actually played through to the end by all players involved. These issues might be excusable for games that are primarily single-player experiences, but given how this is a digital version of a multiplayer board game, these problems are hard to look past.
The bottom line
If it weren’t for Among the Stars’s single-player content, there would be no reason to pick this game up. The multiplayer functionality is weirdly clunky and it’s hard to find any matches to play to completion. As a result, the work that went into bringing Among the Stars to mobile feels unfortunately wasted, unless you’re simply looking for a way to play against AI.