Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander review
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Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on October 19th, 2017
Rating: starstarstarstarstar :: OUT OF THIS WORLD
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Halcyon 6 draws inspiration from strategy classics in all the right ways.

Developer: Massive Damage, Inc.

Price: $6.99
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar

Halcyon 6: Lightspeed Edition is a strategy game about reclaiming an ancient space station with the last scraps of humanity left in the galaxy. In it, you can expect a lot of turn-based combat, emergent gameplay moments, and a boatload of strategic decision-making. Although this mobile version of the game can have some obtrusive menus that can feel clunky, Halcyon 6 is unequivocally one of the best games on the App Store and you should purchase it immediately.

Species survival

Halcyon 6 takes place in the distant future, where mankind has built up a space fleet that bears some resemblance with the Federation Starfleet from Star Trek. While exploring the far reaches of space, humanity found an ancient space station, known as Halcyon 6, as well as an incredible powerful force of evil aliens, known as the Chruul.

At the open of Halcyon 6, you play through a tutorial that also plays out the events of the Chruul destroying most of the human space fleet in one fell swoop. From there, it is your job to lead the human race as it explores the innards of Halcyon 6, rebuilds its fleet, re-establishes contact with terrestrial colonies, and defends itself from future attacks by the Chruul and other alien races.

Deep space decisions

Managing all that there is to do to rebuild your civilization in Halcyon 6 is pretty overwhelming, but the game thankfully provides a pause button and a plethora of menus to help you sort everything out before you commit to actions. The majority of the time, you’ll likely be landing on planets to gather resources so you can build up your station and fleet, but you’ll have to also maintain a constant awareness of other movements around the galaxy so you can defend your species from alien attack.

In the event that you enter combat, Halcyon 6 transforms from a strategy civilization-builder into a turn-based combat game. Whether it’s ship skirmishes out in space or planetside encounters between your crew and alien beings, the combat here requires players to create synergies between attacks and status effects to come out on top. When not in combat or simply managing things, some random narrative events also pop up which can launch their own quest lines. The way all of these systems interact and combine makes for a game that can create tons of complex scenarios and virtually guarantee the game will be different every time you play.

Pixel perfect

The gameplay systems and ideas in Halcyon 6 aren’t new. In fact, some of them are pretty directly lifted from other games. The key here though is that Halcyon 6 expertly draws from fantastic games like FTL, XCOM, and Civilization and repackages their elements so that they feel both familiar, but also new and exciting at the same time. All of this is then presented in a pixel-art style that is both detailed and charming.

The only real hang up with Halcyon 6 is that its menu system can feel a bit bulky on a touch interface. This never really feels like a huge issue though, since the game doesn’t rely much on twitch reflexes or timing. Although you may occasionally wish for it to be easier to find where to train officers or build ships, it likely won’t stop you from playing the game for hours on end.

The bottom line

Halcyon 6: Lightspeed Edition is a deeply satisfying game that takes all of the best elements from some of the greatest strategy games out there and combines them in unexpected and fantastic ways. It may not always be the easiest game to navigate, but the payoff is 100% worth it. The amount of depth and replayability here all but guarantees it’s a game you’ll want to keep on your phone or tablet for a long, long time.

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