When I had a PC in my early years, I loved playing The Sims. I played it in two ways, depending on how I felt. One was to try and make my little sim family have a nice life, the other was to torture them. I loved that game, I really did, but I never really felt any of the sequels and had no interest in the console rehashes and me too type games.
I also never knew of a game called Space Colony, which was essentially The Sims in space. Which a younger me would have loved…LOVED. Unfortunately for me, this was originally released in 2003 by which time I was primarily a console gamer.
It really is hard to to describe Space Colony as anything but The Sims, as it shares so much with the classic life simulator. There are some things that set it apart such as a story mode alongside the other options of sandbox and galaxy modes.
The story features on Venus, a woman who is sent to the planet to do contracted work, during her time she will build out the colony, meet new people and eventually have further interactions with various other alien races, both good and bad.
Whilst Venus is the main focus early on, she actually becomes less important it seems as you progress and are introduced to new people. Those can do other jobs, improve their own relationships and much more. You don’t totally forget Venus, but it makes you wonder why she is introduced as such an important part.
The story is fairly short, but is entertaining enough and actually makes a better tutorial than the actual tutorial. Most of my time is currently spent in the sandbox mode, where I can play more like The Sims I loved all those years ago.
You have numerous planets open to you and it is completely open, allowing you to expand as much as you see fit. The simplistic controls and menus mean you can easily concentrate on building areas and managing relationships and character needs. It works well as not a main focus game, but one you can dip in and out of on a daily or semi regular basis.
Presentation leaves a lot to be desired and still looks like a game straight out of 2003, with a fixed isometric view and some janky looking graphics. Whilst it isn’t ugly as such, it feels like a game that wouldn’t lose character by getting a lick of HD paint… unlike Homeworld which lost tons of character.
That being said, I do feel like I am being petty here, it does what it needs to do and nothing more. I have spent time in and out of this game since picking it up and will continue to do so for a while yet, as it enters my regular rotation of quick play games to go alongside the meatier titles.
If you liked The Sims and you like space, then you will love this, it is fairly deep but is easy for the casual gamer to get into, striking a wonderful balance for all. You can do better, but you can also do a hell of a lot worse.