I recently tried Meeple Station, an indie game in early access which is a kind of Rimworld in space and came away with quite a positive feeling of potential.
Meeple Station is a new title from indie developer Vox Games who already brought us Regions of Ruin, a game I thoroughly enjoyed that has just been released “into the wild” aka Early Access. As with all early access games, I am cautious, but I can clearly sense a lot of potential. In this game, the player is managing a space station from its scrappy beginnings to a sprouting monstrosity built over multiple levels with the goal of exponential growth through mining, trade, research. Here, the sky is not a limit anymore.
Which is not to say that I ever reached the stage of the commercial and manufacturing behemoth I aimed for; quite the contrary. In fact, Meeple Station is, in the true spirit of proper indie game, a quite unforgiving ordeal. My very first station was doomed to failure because the spot I chose was devoid of any available minerals. Essentially, as you start, you build the bare minimum of your station with the absolute necessary modules such as power source and O2 generators, and then choose where to actually place the station.
Beware where you start, though, since there are also pirates in space, and it is not smart to start the game as their neighbor. Once I positioned the station I realized that there are no minerals in the vicinity; I had also depleted all of my initial resources. I could also not move – jump, to be precise – the station to another since I had no fuel. Stranded in space, I had no other option but to watch my guys slowly get mad, claw at each other and perish in agony.
Meeples are people, too
You start off with four Meeples (Meeps?) that have their own personalities and traits which makes them easy or difficult to live and work with in the social terms. These traits also affect how effective they are in a specific job your assigned them to do. Some of them will be much better officers while others will be perfect miners or engineers. They also interact with each other and, similarly to situations that we are familiar with from Rimworld, their social interactions will have long-lasting effects. As a time progresses and you expand your station as well as your renown, you will get more Meeples to join you.
One interesting new feature with this survival/city builder game is the fact that you can build in layers. By stacking your station through addition of new levels makes it easier to keep an overview of things. But beware, since the game does not always hold your hand and tells you what the best build layout is. You learned this through the good old process of trial and error. For example, I kept building solar panels on the very top of my initial level, whereas it would have been far more prudent to build them on the sides of the station. Oh well, live and learn.
I must admit that Meeple Station left me scratching my head and feel like the greatest doofus ever at some points. I could not, for the love of infinite space, figure out how to feed my maples, so they expired miserably because they starved to death. The food dispenser was blacked out in the build menu and only later did I learn that I need to botanists in order to produce food which is then stored in the food containers. Admittedly, there is a number of other things I couldn’t figure out, for example how to make a toilet for my Meeps-peeps. For now, it seems that they are bent on pooping all over the place.
In space, everyone can hear you complain
Space is cruel and filled with pirates and space squids that will happily chew off your face. There also many random catastrophes that can befall you and your station, ranging from accidents caused by careless workers, crazed engineers are random asteroids that smash into your station and inflict severe damage. This is one of these additional elements of uncertainty that give the game additional charm. To quote the developers “Failure is fun. When something goes wrong, it goes REALLY wrong in Meeple Station”.
According to developers, the game currently has around 20% of the intended content. It looks interesting and has a very good atmosphere, showing a lot of potential for the future development. As I mentioned before, I’m quite restrained when it comes to early access, but on the other hand I truly love games like Meeple Station, an open-end world that allows the player a lot of freedom. There are additional features such as creating your own trade ships, adding new technologies and aliens to your crew coming to the game. The future looks bright for Meeples. I will be keeping an eye on them.