Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! might be the most awesome name I have seen on a video game title since I started playing games on SNES. It is not just the title though that makes the creation of Daylight Studios as awesome as it really is. With influences and inspirations from all sorts places, HPWIP is the successor to Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! which was also really good for its own reasons. We will be reviewing that sometime in the future though since the space potatoes of this indie game dev studio wanted to travel to the stars and we had to follow them. And so we did!
Let’s take a closer look at the spacey adventures of those potatoes!
Before we get into analyzing anything though, we have to talk about the story of the game. The story basically revolves around two potato sisters who recruit a bunch of other potatoes as their crew to help them travel through space and find their grandpa. I haven’t finished the game just yet, but I am not really sure if it really has an ending, since I have played quite a lot and I can see it feeling like a roguelike that just keeps going on with more and more upgrades being available every time. Even after 10 hours in the game I still feel the game has a lot more to explore.
The thing that happens differently from the previous title of Daylight Studios, is that this time we are not stationary. We get to explore various galaxies by spending time and fuel to do that. I have to say that most of the game felt very much like Faster Than Light but with potatoes since both battle and exploration mechanics worked pretty much in a very similar way. This however is a huge plus since the game did feel inspired by Faster Than Light but has its own set of unique features in all of its parts. The spaceship is basically our home in this game and we get to to do a lot of things on it.
The game feels as if it was meant to be a combination of Faster Than Light, Orion Trail and the Sims. Ok, maybe not that much the Sims, but seeing the little potatoes roam around in the spaceship is by far one of the most satisfying game experiences I have had in a while. In every galaxy we visit, we have a main objective and a specific amount of SOLs (the time metric used in HPWIP) that we can complete it in. The amount of SOLs provided is usually way higher than the objective needs for completion but we can use that time to roam around and explore various planets. Basically, travelling somewhere takes 1 SOL and exploring another. So if you have let’s say 20 SOLs in a specific galaxy, you can explore about 6 planets and then safely go back to the main hub planet with all the shops and upgrades to prepare for facing the final part of your quest (which is usually a boss fight). If you run out of SOLs, an Armada reaches you and you are basically dead (very much like in FTL).
The spaceship configuration and the way we handle things in it are very easy to learn and get more and more interesting as we move forward in the game. Basically, we get to build various stations for our crew to use. Weapon crafting stations, training stations, research faciilities and medical facilities are among the many that we are able to buy and install in our playthrough with each and every one offering different starship bonuses and utilities. In order to do so, we have to visit a space hub that has all the necessary shops for all those shenanigans. I will not go into too much detail on this, but I have to note on this part that the tutorial was way better than I expected it to be for such a game. All of the gameplay mechanics, both out-of-combat and combat ones, were explained step by step allowing the player to never be or feel lost. Maybe a few issues here and there with indicators missing, but overall really good.
Oh, I of course named my spaceship “The Hyper Lighter” for obvious reasons.
The battle mechanics are very simple and once again remind us of Faster Than Light. I have to say that I am not a huge fan of turn-based combat since it is the staple and easy way to go with when it comes to developing combat in a game, but if done correctly, it can be amazing. In this case, I really appreciate the work that the company put into making the energy system balanced and strategically intuitive. Basically, we get to use energy and fire our weapons (or use powers) and then our opponent does the same. Energy conservation and other combat strategies come into play very fast. As soon as you get a third weapon that does something a bit different from your other two, deciding what to fire, where and when can be very important. Other than the energy system though, the combat also flows really fast, allowing you to always be on your toes since battles do not tire you out like in other games where you fight for twenty or more turns.
The exploration of the planets is where I expected the game to shine, but I will tell you why it does not. Unfortunately, although there are a lot of unique events out there to experience while exploring a planet, I ended up seeing the same ones quite fast in my playthrough. I sort of expected to see a lot more different ones until I get to experience the same ones. Then again, I understand why the company would focus on the building part, since this is what they knew how to do so well already (due to their past successful title) instead of putting more content in the other parts of the game. Having seen the development process of this game and the updates that the studio provided for its previous title, I can safely say that fans of this game can expect a whole lot more added in the future for HPWIS.
Let’s talk about the potatoes though. Oh my, the potatoes. The potatoes are the very essence and soul of this game. If it was not for the potatoes, this game would be doomed. Heck, I do not know if I would have enjoyed the game as much as I did if it was not for the well-drawn cute characters that make up this game and its atmosphere. Generally, the characters are all very carefully made and their amazing animations reflect that even more. There is nothing too special about the backgrounds since all they have to do is be pretty, but the characters are definitely the ones that give this game character.
The game sports references from various movies, games and other pop culture. For example, I saw references from Pokemon, Dr.Who, Judge Spudd (I mean.. Dredd) and One Punch Man among many others that I cannot recall off the top of my head right now. An awesome example is actually the time when I helped Harry Pord (yes, it’s Harrison Ford in the punniest of potato ways) and a fantastically composed theme was playing in the background that was very reminiscent of the Indiana Jones theme.
I think HPWIP will keep me hooked for months to come since this is probably my new airport game as well. Faster Than Light has been successfully replaced for me and I can finally experience something with a bit more character and colour. My complaint was always that Faster Than Light was too simple in certain ways (which is what also made it good, but that’s another argument I guess).
Small note here; not everyone is a potato in the game. There are people who are cheese, broccoli and other things too. How awesome is that?
Either way, the potatoes are here and you should soon be helping them with their space exploration by finding Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! on Steam.
Did you like Faster Than Light or Orion Trail? Then this game is definitely for you. The potato theme of the game is definitely a huge plus giving the game a certain character that other games can only aspire to have. There is a good feeling of progression with various upgrades and a lot of new content that comes up in a playthrough of the game. The game has fast and also smart turn-based combat that does not fatigue the player due to too many turns which is something few titles achieve lately. This is definitely a must have title that will see a lot of replayability.
+ One of the best themes in video games. Potatoes.
+ Good tutorial for what would first seem to be a complex game.
+ Well drawn and animated characters.
+ Good game progression with a lot of content.
+ Turn-based combat that is actually fun and not tiring.
Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis