I spent a good chunk of a weekend playing the beta release of Mi-Clos Studio's menu-driven game, Out There (Android, iOS, PC, Mac). Hope you're a pro resource manager, or willing to learn to be, because that's the only way to survive this game.
You play as an unnamed astronaut aboard a spaceship, called the Nomad, on a mission to locate new resources for the now desolate planet Earth. But, when you awake from cryostasis, you're nowhere near your intended destination. You're not even in the same galaxy.
For reasons unknown to you, some friendly aliens want you to travel to a faraway planet. Because your ship is not equipped for the journey, you'll need to gather elements on the way.
Everything in this game runs on elements. Traveling star-to-star, orbiting planets, landing on planets, and even harvesting elements, requires elements. H (hydrogen) and He (helium) replenish your fuel supply, Fe (iron) is used to repair your ship's hull, and O (oxygen) is for, well, breathing. If you let your supply run out, the game is over. So, you'll constantly be refilling these.
The game's drag and drop interface makes it easy enough to put those elements where they need to be, but it won't make up for skill you'll need to keep your ship in ship shape.
I was terrible at managing my elements, at first. I couldn't keep a surplus. I constantly ran out of fuel. One time I found two black holes in a row, but without any Fe for repairs, they tore my ship apart. I had to start over about half a dozen times.
After awhile, I got the hang of it. Did a little bit of cost-benefit analyzing when it came to riskier-type ventures. I watched my supply like a hawk. I kept extra elements around for repairs for when equipment broke down (which happened pretty regularly) as I traveled from star to star.
On my travels, little narrative events occurred too. Sometimes I'd find some space ice I could convert to extra oxygen. One time, my ship was lodged in space "caramel" and it damaged my ship's hull. I met aliens and started to decipher their language. On occasion, I received some new technology to build to make my ship run more efficiently.
However, once I figured out how to run a tight ship, the game play became very subduing. Travel to a star, gather elements, rinse, repeat. Things got so monotonous, I made a beeline towards my destination hoping to advance the story.
Because this was the beta version, I never got there. It ended abruptly with a cryptic message about how my mission was bigger than I thought, and its outcome would impact humankind.
Out There definitely challenged my ability to manage resources and it was fun up until I figured out how to actually do it. From the look of things, the full game has more in store. Whether or not it can overcome the onset of boredom from harvesting elements, is yet to be seen.
You can learn more, and even pre-order Out There over here.
You know what else is out there? Twitter @marshnaylor