So I’m a bit late to the party here, but I finally played Kerbal Space Program for the first time this past week. And, I gotta say, I can now understand why so many people love the game.
As someone that had only a basic understanding of how the game worked and never actually watched gameplay or read about it too much, what immediately caught me off guard was just how steep the learning curve is here. Although the game does provide a decent tutorial, it wasn’t until I spent a couple hours in sandbox mode that I finally grasped the very, very basics of the gameplay.
Those basics include building rockets, getting the right crew for them, testing them in various launch scenarios, and finally launching them for real. The game makes use of realistic aerodynamic and orbital physics, so you have to keep a lot in check in order to actually get anything done. Too much weight on one side of the rocket or a miscalculation in the rocket’s staging can have some pretty catastrophic consequences. Fortunately, the game provides a lot of tools to assist you here, both when actually building the rocket and when testing it for launch.
My first rocket completely went off course, but I did eventually manage to get a successful launch after messing around with the prebuilt rockets for a bit. I feel that that is where the core gameplay really shines: a series of trial and error events until you finally manage to pull off something cool. That feeling of accomplishment is definitely one of the game’s stronger points.
However, if you just want to mess around with other designs that is also an option. The game has full Steam workshop support, so you can import some pretty cool designs and try them out yourself. I had fun for a bit doing just that, even flying around a replica of the Millennium Falcon.
Now, while the base gameplay may be fun, there are a few issues elsewhere. For one, there’s the immense learning curve, but that’s pretty much a given considering what the game’s trying to do, so that’s a least excusable to an extent. Then there’s the wonky UI, which ranges from relatively easy to navigate, to outright painful to navigate. This is in part due to the game’s complex nature, but it definitely could use some improvements regardless (such as when building rockets).
Then there’s the physics issues. The game does have some pretty realistic physics, but I did manage to break them on more than one occasion, such as having a rocket spin so fast that it just becomes a glitchy spiderweb of parts. And finally, the game’s actual graphics. Kerbal Space Program is not a good-looking game, and probably for a good reason. The game consumes a lot of memory, so the toned down graphics are probably to compensate for that. But even when held up to 2015 standards, it just doesn’t look all that good.
Despite these issues, Kerbal Space Program is a solid game all things considered. The simulation elements are top-notch, the core gameplay is fun, and it actually feels like I’m learning something while playing. There is an intense learning curve to get over (one that I’m still in the early stages of), but it can be a pretty rewarding experience during this time. I’m sure that I’ve probably said nothing new given how long this game has been out for, but wanted to give some impressions regardless.
You can buy Kerbal Space Program on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.