It’s one thing for a game to tax you mentally, it’s another for it to rip your mind out throw your controller across the room and make you wish you paid more attention in school and re-examine you’re A-level selections! Kerbal Space Program, recently ported from PC onto the Xbox one in June of 2016 combines all the fun of smashing tiny green dudes into the floor at great speeds with a business simulator and a physics simulator.
The premise of the game is simple, you are placed in charge of the fledgling Kerbal Space Program and it’s your job to get help these adorable little green dudes slip the surly bonds of their home planet Kerbin and explore their solar system. There are 3 main game modes, Sandbox Mode where everything is available and Science Mode where you must perform missions to unlock more discoveries that allow you to build bigger and better rockets and make even more discoveries. The most satisfying mode by far is career mode which comes with all the exploration requirements of Science mode but you have to manage your budgets, your facilities and a whole host of other factors important to running a successful space program.
There is a genuine sense of accomplishment that comes with doing something what would seem pretty mundane, getting a space ship into orbit may seem like something that happens pretty regularly but its genuinely not a straight forward process if you think that flying straight up into the sky and into space is going to get you into orbit you are going to come back down to earth with a bit of a thump, or a bang depending on whether your parachutes open in time, there’s a lot of trial and error and plenty of frustration but the rewards that come with succeeding and understanding the game and the physics behind it start to mount as you accomplish more things.
One thing that has genuinely blindsided me is just how much you care about the little dudes you send up there. Kerbals may look like crazy eyed green Pringles cans with no nose and a slightly vacant expression but they’re sweet and brave, the little noises they make when they succeed and their happy little expressions as they fly off into space really warm you to them. It really hits you in the feels when your little friend who you have taken to the moon and back smashes into the floor with seconds left in his mission because you deployed his parachute incorrectly.
This is a thinking persons game make no mistake about it, it will challenge even the smartest players and genuinely teach you the basics of orbital mechanics and how hard sending a rocket to the moon really can be. The only limit really is the player’s imagination, build huge rockets, tiny satellites, space stations, space planes, giant aircraft or planetary outposts the sky is no longer the limit! As the leader of the Kerbal Space Program you can take their journey in which ever you feel like.
This game is a PC port to the Xbox One and the controls at times can be a little clunky whilst in construction and flight planning mode which takes a little getting used too. Similarly, in flight mode, the controls make sense but holding a course is a little trickier when using a controls stick than WASD controls. A touch of refinement might be useful in this area but nothing drastic, just a little less sensitivity in parts particularly for building and planning.
Ultimately this game will give you a satisfaction that most other games will not, a genuine sense of achievement.