We take a look at the first part of an ambitious MMO from Project Whitecard Studios.
Starlite: Astronaut Rescue recently launched on Steam and we had the opportunity to have a look at the game. Starlite: Astronaut Rescue is developed by Project Whitecard Studios in collaboration with NASA, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the University of California Irvine. Project Whitecard is working with some highly reputable organizations, so naturally our hopes are high for Starlite: Astronaut Rescue.
Starlite: Astronaut Rescue is the first in a series of small Starlite games that will culminate with the Alpha testing phase of Project Whitecard Studios’ upcoming MMO Starlite: Astronaut Academy this Summer of 2014. Starlite: Astronaut Rescue is billed as a 20 minute mini-adventure that serves as a preview of Starlite: Astronaut Academy’s gameplay. For the purpose of our review it’s important to keep in mind that Starlite: Astronaut Rescue is small game and features essentially one quest.
Upon starting the game you’re greeted with a simple movement tutorial window and the first objective in your space adventure. Looking out on the vast reddish brown landscape is somewhat awe-inspiring. Starlite: Astronaut Rescue successfully captures the feeling of being in an otherworldly place. As you get closer to your mobile space home the true scale of your surroundings become clear, you’re a very small human in a very large, very empty world.
Once you get inside your mobile space station the real action begins. We’re introduced to our unnamed partner who leads the player subtlety through the mission. Immediately the thing that stuck out for us was high quality voice acting in the game. We’ve heard AAA big budget titles that have less convincing voice acting. Not only does the voice actor sound exactly like you’d expect an astronaut to sound, he delivers the lines naturally and clearly. Our other editor Nicole noted that he sounded so trustworthy, she’d believe anything he says.
As you go through the adventure you encounter various mini-games that task the player with using their brain instead of their brawn. Upon witnessing a spaceship crash the player embarks on a quest to rescue the lost pilot. Here we’re given a small taste of the crafting system, which clearly draws inspiration from real world engineering concepts. To rescue the pilot we must find the ships distress signal, and thus must calculate the hertz rate at which the signal is being sent. This mini-game stood out as the highlight of the game for us as we had to do algebra using real equations to solve the puzzle. Once we’ve solved the equations we boot up some signal finder robots and take to the space mountains to triangulate the signal.
The entire game does a fantastic job at finding a good mix between education and adventure. With true to life science and mathematics Starlite: Astronaut Rescue both teaches and offers a potential glimpse into the future of humankind. Once we remembered how to do math harder than calculating a restaurant tip we found the algebra mini-game to be surprisingly enjoyable, it was math for a purpose and we like that kind of math.
After playing the game we spoke with Project Whitecard Studios in regard to some questions we had about Astronaut Rescue and Astronaut Academy. Starlite: Astronaut Rescue’s intended audience is 11-15, but extends to any space enthusiast. This makes perfect sense as the math would be on target with advanced younger kids and is just hard enough for adults who forgot how to do math after being out of school for 15 years. 16-25 year old gamers might find Starlite: Astronaut Rescue to be less action packed than they are accustomed to, but the game really isn’t made for them.
Starlite: Astronaut Rescue feels to us like a mix between a tech demo and single quest mini-adventure. We actually liken the game to the experience of going through a space science exhibit at Epcot, which we believe says a lot about the overall quality presented here. The voice acting, the believable alien planet graphics, the true to life science, it all feels like the high-caliber content you’d normally see from a major production company like Disney. Apart from some slight clipping issues in a few models and occasionally choppy model animations we had no real issue with the graphics of the game. The one thing we felt that Starlite: Astronaut Rescue could benefit from was a blinking cursor. During the math mini-game it took us at least a minute before we realized we were supposed to type into the box to solve the puzzle. Once we finished the game we were asked to fill out our e-mail address to receive our official astronaut badge and again we felt a blinking cursor in the text boxes were needed. It’s a slight oversight in an otherwise beautifully crafted and simple player UI.
After speaking with Project Whitecard Studios we were happy to hear that the high quality voice acting, mathematics, science, and engineering would all be returning in Starlite: Astronaut Academy. Really when it comes right down to it, Starlite: Astronaut Rescue is a preview of what is ultimately being developed for the MMO. We feel confident in saying that we’re excited for what Starlite: Astronaut Academy could to the table. When you approach Starlite: Astronaut Rescue as an educational game it’s true value really shines. As children we had games like Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, now our children get something like Starlite: Astronaut Rescue and the eventual Starlite: Astronaut Academy. To be honest we’re pretty jealous.
Call of Duty players can probably skip this one, but if you’re a parent of an inquisitive child your kid is going to eat this game up.
To purchase the game visit the Starlite: Astronaut Academy Steam page.
To learn more about the Starlite series visit StarliteGame.com
Editors Note: We were given a review copy of this game at our request to facilitate this review. Our feelings are entirely our own and we were not directed in any way to promote or disparage this or any other game.