The game mechanics of Space Siege are, to put it bluntly, unimmersive, uninteresting and undefendable on the face of it. They are quite simply the weak point which brings the entire game tumbling down like a successfully completed level of Boom Blox.

Starting from the beginning, Space Siege is played as a third person, mouse-driven RPG game. Your character is moved by where you want to go pressing the left mouse button and told to attack by clicking the right mouse button.

Essentially, control-wise that’s it. There are keyboard shortcuts to use your various skills and abilities, to change your weapons and instruct your robotic accomplice, but most of the game is controlled with the mouse.

Which is the first and major problem with the game, since it constantly prevents you from doing two things at once. You can move or you can shoot and no amount of keyboard binding or pounding will change that. You click to move to the other side of the room and if you spot an enemy on your way and try to attack him then you’ll end up stopping where you are.

Space Siege Space Siege - Gameplay

Now, if this were Dungeon Siege then that would make sense. You’d have to stop to swing your sword or raise your bow. The problem is that this isn’t Dungeon Siege, this is Space Siege. Your weapons are universally submachine guns, rocket launchers and laser beams, so the fact you can’t move and fire means that essentially you have no tactics whatsoever.

Here’s how the game works. You enter a room and there are a bunch of monsters around. You right click them, holding the button down or hammering it like mad, one by one. You don’t move. The enemy AI is basically limited to either running at you and hitting you with a sword, or standing where they are and shooting you. You press H to heal yourself if you get low on health and you carry on until you die or they die.

The enemies mostly move at the same speed as you, so there’s no running away and the fact that you can’t move and shoot means there’s no flanking, no circle strafing, no anything. You shoot and you reach one of two possible outcomes, so while the combat is very, very pure, it’s also very, very dull. This goes doubly for all the multiplayer co-op matches.

The main issue with this awful control set-up is that the level design itself actually lends itself quite well to it, with explosives everywhere and decent physics driving the whole thing.

Space Siege Space Siege - Gameplay

If you could just use WASD to move your character then the whole game would be immediately, dramatically improved. Instead of standing there taking bullets and waiting to see if you die of boredom before the enemy does, the game would become a thrilling little action game much akin to Shadowgrounds. But it doesn’t, so the whole thing is very much an exercise in mediocrity.

The RPG side of things is also a bit of a misnomer as, by typical RPG standards, the game is woefully undeveloped. What conversations there are tend to be automatic, looped affairs and the two separate skill trees and optional cybernetic enhancements are incredibly limited and uninspiring.

Worst of all though is the fact that even these bland and blunted skill sets are never properly introduced to the player. At the start of the game you’re greeted with a lengthy CG cutscene, which then immediately repeats itself as a background to the main menu. As soon as you start the game you’re dumped in and given no guidance what so ever.

In fact, it’s rather telling that on seeing the game and having no tutorial to teach us the basics we spent a good five minutes trying to figure out why we couldn’t bind WASD to player movement. In the end we had to read the manual cover to cover, which isn’t an unexpected request of the designers, but one we doubt is going to be followed by the majority of players.
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October 14 2021 | 15:04