PAX EAST 2020: ‘Element Space’ – Turn Based Strategy in the Far Future

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Element Space — But Why Tho

The Element Space demo is a Sci-Fi turn-based strategy game developed by Inca Games and Sixth Vowel and published by Blowfish Studios. Having just resolved a war that threatened to tear humanity asunder, people now search ardently for peace. But on the eve of a historic peace signing, a shadowy organization attempts to sabotage the effort. Luckily, you are able to stop the attempt. However, you get blamed for the attack. With no one aware there is someone else masterminding the plot, it’s up to you to find them and stop them.

The Element Space demo has a lot going for it that’s right up my alley. Turn-based tactical gameplay? Check. Choice-driven narrative? Check. Customizable squad members? Check. Yup, this is off to a great start. While the basics are all there, the question of implementing them still needs to be addressed.

As I started up the tutorial mission, my three playable characters prepared to hand over their ship to be converted into a place for diplomacy instead of war – the kind of symbolic gesture politicians love. During this cutscene, I’m asked a couple of questions by my teammates that require me to select my response. Upon picking one, a prompt informs that my humanity has gone up. When I asked the person manning the PAX East booth about it, they explained that my choices would affect my game’s outcome. Attributes like humanity would affect how I interact with the various factions in the game, as well as my recruitable squadmates. The casual chatter is cut short as I receive a distress call. Someone is attacking the engine room. My squad races into action.

This provided my first opportunity to experience the Element Space demo’s combat. Characters begin the battle hunkered down behind cover. With a move action and a primary action available to each character every turn, the battle flows how you would expect for this style of game. With fully destructible terrain and overwatch options available, characters always have a viable action to take. Overall, the combat played out well, line of sight felt fair, and I never caught the computer claiming I didn’t have a line of sight when I felt I should.

The graphical presentation of Element Space was solid in this demo. Nothing mind-blowing, but it served the style of play well. Everything was clear and the HUD displayed all the information I needed with only minimal trial and error to discern what was what.

While I enjoyed what I played of Element Space in the demo, there are still some big questions for me. The biggest being the plot and how much choice actually matters to the game. If these elements can be delivered in a meaningful way, then this game has a strong shot at being an amazing find for me. Tactical gameplay and strong storytelling is my bread and butter where gaming is concerned. I would love it if Element Space can bring them both together.

Element Space is available now PC and will be coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One at the end of March.

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