Game Name – Endless Space
ESRB Rating – N/A
Genre – Turn-Based Strategy, 4x
Educational Values – Decision Making, Critical Thinking, Planning, Patience, Perseverance, Strategic Thinking
Platforms – Windows, Mac OS
Where to buy – Steam, Directly from their site
When should you buy it? – If you want a longer game that will allow you to develop an empire and dig deep.
About the Game
Endless Space is a space conquest game where you take the role of leader of a faction trying to conquer the galaxy. You must develop technology in four areas: Science, Exploration, Military, and Economy in order to expand your empire and colonize different planetary systems.
Using some core mechanics found in other turn-based strategies, Endless Space shines by allowing a gamer to delve into the details of ship building, unique planetary features, resources, wonders, and anomalies. Or, if they choose, assign an computer governor to manage the minutiae of running their empire while they explore the galaxy with their fleets.
The game starts with a series of selections a gamer can make for their game. Choices include everything from the faction to the size and shape of the galaxy, to the game speed and difficulty. Once the gamer makes their choices, the game starts at their empire’s homeworld with a scout ship and a colony ship. These two ships can be sent out to start exploring nearby star systems and expand your empire.
While exploring the galaxy and starting new colonies, the gamer has to direct research into developing weapons, planetary improvements, ship upgrades, planet colonization, and empire improvements. Each discovery builds into more sophisticated technology as a gamer puts resources into each area of the ‘tech tree’.
As the game progresses, the gamer will need additional star fleets. Ship design is one of the more complex and interesting aspects of the game. The player can customize ships according to their role. For example, ships built to be a support roles will include modules for repair, scouting, etc. While ships built for direct combat will focus more on weapons, defenses, and armor. There is a great deal of discretion at play and the gamer can decide the armament and configuration of each ship if they choose.
A small portion of the Galaxy Map
What the Game Teaches Us
Endless Space requires endless planning. There are choices that lead to other choices that lead to still more choices, and the gamer can plan down to the individual laser beam on their destroyer. This focus on planning and choices helps develop critical thinking and decision making skills. As a gamer realizes the consequences of his/her choices as the game plays out.
As a game of Endless Space takes several hours to complete, it teaches patience and perseverance. Any decision will take several turns of planning and building before it is complete. The feeling of completion is huge when your fleet protects a star system, but it is not a quick pay-off.
Setbacks are common. After a defeat, the gamer must analyze why they lost, what decisions were costly, and where the next focus should be. Fortunately, there is an “auto-save” feature and a gamer can quickly move back before a decision that cost them everything. Unlike some other games…
Several of the mechanics require higher-level thinking due to the constant decision making. For example the gamer has to identify weaknesses in an enemy fleet and exploit them, or lose every battle. To win more battles, should the gamer focus on building ships with more armor or more weapons? Would it be a better strategy to ignore the growing pirate harassment on the northern borders and focus on building up planetary infrastructure? Or would it be wiser to divert resources to a larger star fleet to deal with the threat? The decisions are not as simple as “paper beats rock”, if anything they are closer to this paradigm. Given the complexity of the game, the decisions never stop.
Just a portion of the ‘tech tree’ for upgrades you can research.
General Feelings on the Game
Put simply, Endless Space is fun. Loads of it. The combat sequences are entertaining to watch, even if your ships are going to take some nasty hits. The details throughout the game coupled with the AI allow a gamer to be as hands on or as high level as they choose. You can order the build queues of every single building on every single planet, or completely ignore them. And the level of complexity in the game, combined with a thorough tutorial allow a gamer to get sucked in very easily. The biggest problem I had was the The Turn Based mechanic leading me to continually say “just one more turn!” Which I only get from the very best of games.
Space simulations have come a long way over the decades in terms of graphics, details, and style, but few match the complexity, immersion, and all around fun of Endless Space. By synthesizing details creating a better whole than the sum of its parts, this game truly is the successor to Galactic Civilizations and Master of Orion, some of the greatest games of all time.