Amongst the sea of upcoming Steam games, I somehow came across something called Project Genesis. This creation from 8 Circuit Studios first popped up on my radar earlier in 2019. I finally got to get my hands on it for a Project Genesis preview. I’m quite keen on seeing where this one heads. If nothing else, the devs have designed a fantastic foundation.
My opportunity to play only consisted of an all too brief play session with the developers and other players from around the world. I only got a bit over an hour of time in, but I had a blast with what little I could see. I also just about buried the needle on my hype meter because I can see this game turning into something positively awesome.
Project Genesis Preview | A Melding of Genres
Space combat games (or space flight simulators, or however you want to classify them) have you flying a ship around and blowing stuff up. First-person shooters put you on foot, give you a gun or guns, and have you blow stuff up. Project Genesis falls into a wonderful subgenre where these two styles of play are combined.
Almost a decade ago, I began playing a great Source mod called Eternal Silence. In this game, you hop into fighter craft and attack a bunch of support corvettes protecting a larger capital ship. Once the support ships are down, you can land in the enemy capital ship and engage in first-person shooter combat, ultimately trying to capture or destroy it. It’s a really interesting mashup genre (or would it be a subgenre?).
Project Genesis plays similarly. You spawn in with your selection of craft and duke it out with the enemy fighters while also hopefully trying to damage the enemy capital ship so you can board it. Once you board it, you try to capture sensitive areas of the enemy ship. Sounds simple, right? Well, there’s a bit more to it than that.
Project Genesis Preview | Right Into the Danger Zone
I had high hopes prior to my Project Genesis preview — a bunch of cool space fighters flying around a capital ship surely meant that I had a reason to break out the ol’ joystick. Unfortunately, it turns out that the ships in Project Genesis control very differently.
It’s a little difficult to get a sense of scale, but the ships in this game are more akin to frigates than fighters. You have two weapons, and very often one of the two is on a turret that you need to aim with your mouse. Movement is done on a 2D plane, but you can ascend or descend to get above or below enemies. It’s a weird sort of 2.75D space fighter combat — not true directional 3D, but not 2D, either.
At first, I have to say that I was a little disappointed. That feeling quickly went away as I flew the ships and realized what they were going for. There are lock-on missiles, fast-firing gatling guns, and even the interstellar equivalent of a railgun. It’s FPS class-based gameplay, but in space.
Adding to the fun is the ability to customize your ships. I’m not just talking about the basic colors — you can take pretty much any ship and put any guns on it (including doubling up). I had a lot of fun using a railgun on a turret to pick off distant enemy frigates and a double railgun mounted on the bow to hammer the enemy capital ship’s shields. The menu for customization was a bit rough — understandable since this is a pre-alpha — but the underlying idea is solid.
Once the bad guy’s shields are down, it’s time to board their ship. It was here where the second half of Project Genesis begins — along with most of my troubles.
Project Genesis Preview | Prepare to Repel Boarders
When it comes to games that drop you from a ship into a battlefield, there are a lot of ways to do it. Drop pods are one of the techniques that I feel are woefully underused and they just feel so gosh darn awesome. Think about it: a drop pod is a missile — and you’re the payload.
Project Genesis uses breaching pods, the angrier cousin of drop pods that pierces the hull of a spaceship and allows you to hop right out. You even get to see the little pod pop out of the frigate before it transitions to the first-person gameplay mode.
Once you touch down, it’s up to you to tackle five objectives:
- Disable Capital Shield (done, as this is a prerequisite to boarding the ship)
- Disable Ship Security
- Capture Bridge AI
- Disable Reactor Security
- Destroy Reactor
While you’re on the offense, the enemy team is on the defense. In the pre-alpha build, everyone only had a rifle and a pistol. The pistol felt like a terribly slow and underpowered backup weapon, but the rifle was more than serviceable.
Unfortunately, this particular playtest had people from literally all over the world, one of whom was in Australia. Long distances between players (and consequently, high latency) meant that it wasn’t the most ideal shooter experience in terms of lag. Even with these troubles, it worked pretty darn well. I blew up my more than my fair share of enemy ships and the opposing team did the same.
So, how does Project Genesis stack up? I’ve only played for around an hour, but it gives me hope for the future of the FPS/space combat hybrid genre. There are still people out there who love this kind of experience enough to try to make it.
I spent an ungodly amount of hours in stuff like Eternal Silence and I’m sure to sink a fair few into anything that blends spaceships and first-person shooting in such a fashion. I hope that the pre-alpha goes smoothly so I can really sink my teeth into Project Genesis.
TechRaptor previewed Project Genesis on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.