Developer: Digiarty
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

There’s nothing wrong with mixing genres. In fact, it can lead to great, new types of games built on familiar frameworks. Space Settlers’ problem isn’t that it mixes genres. No, the problem is that the gulf in quality between its two halves just makes its fractured construction stand out that much more.

In the future, Stephen Hawking has finally uploaded his brain onto the internet, harvested the time-traveling dark energy of the god particle, and has given humanity the resource it needs to get on with exploring the final frontier. Now it’s up to the player to establish a stable interstellar base and slowly expand onto nearby planetoids. Before we talk about the problematic split though, there are some quality commonalities worth mentioning. The game is full of slick, well-drawn artwork and has a great sci-fi style, even though it is suspiciously similar to Starcraft. Units and structures look distinct and the moody music sets the perfect tone for cold, cosmic conquest.

After that though, Space Settlers can be safely divided into two camps: the fun base building sections and the tedious combat sections. Plenty of similar freemium games do this too but Space Settlers’ problem is how uneven the whole experience is. Whereas a fantasy version of this may have interesting turn-based battles to complement its castle constructing, this game goes between a space simulation with deep and intriguing systems and mechanics to a wonky, overly-difficult top-down shooter. Putting so much work into harvesting the right materials for the perfect unit only to watch it blow up because the touch controls for moving, viewing, and shooting barely work is supremely frustrating. At least navigating the grid map to activate battles is pretty neat, even if the battles themselves aren’t.

It’s hard to give Space Settlers a full recommendation. The base building sections are so good and strangely relaxing that it may be worth suffering through the combat. For some though, it may just be insufferable. 


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