Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! is the second part in the Holy Potatoes series of games to come from Daylight Studios. The first game in the series was based around managing your own weapon shop and growing it into a profitable venture by selling weapons to questing heroes. We’re in Space is a slightly different look on the series, instead of being more of a management simulation, the series has taken a step towards a more turn based combat mechanic with management in the background.
First of all, I’ll start out with the art style, as it is the thing which attracted me to the game to start with. The vibrant and colourful 2D sprites and background really set this title apart from other games in the genre. Much like Weapon Shop, the developers have done a splendid job of creating loveable characters out of potatoes, okay not all of them look like potatoes at first glance but the sentiment is there. We’re in Space’s UI looks very nicely presented too. Everything is within a few clicks of each other and very easily to navigate. Personally I would really liked to have had some voice acting included here, I know it’s a costly venture for any team to invest in, but the benefits would have been huge here as the dialog between the characters is topical, humorous and another one of the game's strongest points.
In terms of gameplay, the game is split into two parts. The management side of the game, which while it isn’t exactly a huge part of the overall game, it’s still equally important as the combat. You are in charge of a spaceship, and you have to run the ship efficiently in order to succeed. Your ship has variety of rooms that have their own purpose. The most important being the bridge of the ship. This is where you assign crew members to man the guns on your ship to allow them to work in the combat system. A room where you can research new weapons for your ship, another where you can teach your crew members new abilities, and finally, a room where you send your crew members when they have been wounded in battle and have some sort of illness (debuff) hindering them from performing to their best. All of the actions you perform in these rooms aren’t done in real time. As part of the story, you are being chased through the galaxy by your foe; you have to stay a certain distance away from them at all times or else he’ll simply blow you out of the sky...or space? Each section of the game gives you a certain amount of action points, or as the game likes to call them Sols. Everything you do in the game takes an amount of sols to finish. So sending a crew member to learn a new skill can take around 3 sols for them to finish. So your time management skills have to be pretty accurate too.
I personally don’t like any mechanic in the game that is time sensitive, whilst I can forgive We’re in Space slightly here as it tries to incorporate it into a story mechanic, it still felt like I was being rushed to carry out everything I wanted to in a given section of the game. Apart from making use of the rooms in the ship, you also spend time exploring planets and finding treasure and resources. All of this again takes sols, every planet you explore takes a sol, meaning you can only explore so much before you need to progress on with the main story. This mechanic does prevent the player from grossly overleveling themselves so that the challenge is diminished the more time you play, but if you are the sort that likes to grind out tasks, or you simply don’t like missing out on content that a game has to offer, you too will probably feel hard done by from this mechanic.
Whilst exploring planets you’ll come across resources, these resources are used in collaboration with the upgrading of your ship, hiring more crew members, researching new weapons and such. So they are a key mechanic in order to progress properly. On the topic of exploring planets, you may also come across scripted events, these come with some crass and comical dialog, as well as including a manner of choice for the player to decide how to act. These scripted events will reward the player sometimes with special items or resources. I really enjoyed these events, they bring out some unique characters and add even more flavour to the cast. Not to mention the pop culture references amused me greatly.
The turn based combat side of the game is where I started to feel a little let down with We’re in Space. Every encounter with an enemy ship added to the repetitive nature of the combat system. There isn’t a huge amount of depth to the system, which probably makes it feel more repetitive. You are in charge of your weapons you have chosen your ship to be equipped with on the bridge. We also have another time based mechanic. Each weapon shot takes a specific amount of charge. You usually start any encounter with enough charge to shoot your weapon once per turn, and each turn that pases by, you’ll gain an additional charge as well as replenishing any you spent the previous turn. I wasn’t too happy using this mechanism, I would much prefer a way to increase the amount of charge you have to begin a fight with rather than having another timed based mechanic in my way.
Sometimes at the start of the fight, your ship’s captain will give you some advice on what you should be aiming for. Take it from me, half of the time they spurt utter nonsense and you’ll often benefit from ignoring them completely. Your ship’s captain will also have a variety of special abilities for you to use too; these have cool downs but can be used to sway the battle in your favour if you fall behind. Much like other turn based combat games, sometimes having a turn not doing damage but increasing your status can be better in the long run over the course of a fight.
We’re in Space’s only challenge comes from having the player carefully plan out their decisions against the clock. If you were able to explore and grind at your leisure, the combat system would be easy for anyone to overcome. I realize I am contradicting myself as I would simply love to be able to grind out a pimped out ship and blast through my enemies with ease as the combat system wasn’t my favorite part of the game, but that’s not how the game wants to be played. You have to learn how to min/max your time management in order to progress.
Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! is a neat management simulator which anyone who enjoys the likes of FTL will get a kick out of. The combat system is lacking proper depth in order to make the gameplay side of the game more effective, but the story, dialog and art style definitely pull Holy Potatoes through to the next galaxy.