In development for over a year, Escape Hatch Entertainment recently released a closed beta of Starlight Inception, showcasing some of the features and game-play prior to release. The only mode available in the beta is that of the campaign, which seems to start you off on the first level of the game and gives you a total of about twenty minutes of play.

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The story isn’t very deep (or at least it isn’t yet); set “a hundred years from tomorrow”, you pilot a spacecraft with the designated call-sign “Darkstar 2”, launched for training off the star carrier U.S.F. Midway (cough*WWII reference*cough). During your training mission, five nuclear explosions are set off around the Earth, destroying some of the biggest cities. In light of this “attack”, you’re activated by the air force – set to defend your planet and fellow craft through any means available to you.

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The controls in the game are fairly simple, though there are a few menus that require multiple button presses to access and aren’t evident unless you play through the tutorial. The ability to divert power to different areas of your ship such as thrust, defense and weaponry was a nice touch; though the rest of the options seemed quite simplistic. Flying around was quite easy, as was targeting and using the weaponry – though I had trouble with the machine gun at first. Aside from the controls, the game-play itself was also quite shallow -there seemed to be no goal aside from “go here” and “shoot this”… the actual meat of the demo turning out to be more like bologna.

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That said, some of what is there isn’t done poorly at all. Sound effects and most of the graphics in game are done quite well – my only qualm being a severe lack of anti-aliasing which caused “jagges” on objects like lasers and edges of ships. Textures on the Earth, Moon and Sun are actually quite pretty; the sunshine as well as the view of other celestial objects being the most beautiful things in the game. Textures on ships were a bit less pleasing, and distorted when you got close enough (collision course, anyone?).

Speaking of collisions, what happens when you run into another ship and don’t destroy your own is almost comical – you bounce off like you’ve got a spring on the nose of your vessel, getting pushed backwards. Crash enough though, and your viewing glass will break; a sign you’re done for. That said, I also experienced frequent crash glitches, such as the ship snapping into the geometry of the vessel you hit.

The planned features sound good though; the ability to fly in and land on celestial bodies like the Earth and other planets/moons being a stand out for me. Sadly, this wasn’t available in the demo which was sort of disappointing since it’s really the most unique feature.

If you’re looking for something amazing in the Starlight Inception beta, you’re not going to find it – but the framework is there for something good. The controls need to be opened up a bit, the graphics smoothed out and the features added… but there’s plenty of time to do that before the game releases in December.

The first Kickstarter funded title to hit the Vita, we hope they put the polish to this one instead of leaving the scuffs on the surface.

  • XtemmA2

    ive tried the beta too, and really hope it was a really outdated build. a month wont be enough to fix bugs and other improvements.

  • Lester Paredes

    I liked it. It whet my appetite for another Colony Wars or Ace Combat game. In that sense, the beta showed that it can and will deliver the basics. I sure hope that the build was outdated too. Though I could care less about anti-aliasing, I certainly hope that some of the controls are improved and that there’s much more than: fly here shoot stuff missions. The voice acting could use a bit of work too, but otherwise, it definitely shows promise.

  • Buckybuckster

    Really want to try this out, but I need to clear up some space on one of my memory cards. Could store some stuff on the cloud, but I’m too lazy to be bothered by the process right now yuk yuk.
    From what I could glean from the NA PS Blog post on this game a lot of improvements have already been, and will be made. @lesterparedes:disqus the actual voice over team have yet to do their work . One of the designers and his wife do the voices you hear in the beta. So there should be a noticeable improvement in quality once it goes gold.
    Even if this game ends up being only marginally good, I will most likely pick it up. Space shooters are my cup of tea.

  • aros

    Sounds ok as long as its cheap, hopefully they will manage to add all the promised features but as shown with a lot of iOS games, sadly a lot of kickstarted games arrive without the unique features that made people back them and never get what was special about the game patched in. Hopefully this one will be different.

  • Ryumoau

    Apparently the game comes to vita tomorrow. I’m hoping theres a demo to try the game first.