Nosebleed studios (studio)
26 July 2017 (released)
01 August 2017
Seems like nowadays the way to create original content is to take an existing concept and place it either in space, under the ocean or have cowboys fighting dragons. But did you ever imagine what Wall Street would be like in space? I’m assuming it would be the same brutal, intense shouting matches, vulgar displays of greed and bloodshed and everything is relating to 80’s culture. Well that’s what these guys thought and so comes Vostok Inc, a game about being an 80’s guy in space, making immense profits from harvesting planets and fighting off those who have other ideas.
Sounds about right for what Wall Street is… and the 80’s.
Vostok Inc brings the compelling elements of space exploration with the enriching sense of world building and an end goal of making obscene amounts of money. As the boss of Vostok, you’ll command a small space craft exploring the vast galaxy to colonise planets for make huge profits. While in the void of space you’ll come across hostiles who are pretty much just like you, money hungry and determined to make a profit, even if it means murder. To be honest if the representation of humanity is with the Vostok Corporation then I don’t blame them.
Players will explore each solar system and discover an array of planets, where new installations/structures can be built including mines, power plants, government buildings, religious icons and game development studios. Creating these businesses is allowing a steady and constant income flowing in and upgrading them will only expand the scale of your revenue further. After some time of building business ventures across a solar system you’ll be earning millions. After building more ventures and upgrading them across several solar systems, you’ll be earning billions! It’s excess is insane and it captures the want for greed and lust for money perfectly. But also gives players a real sense of ownership, reward and nurture their business ventures while encouraging their ego and sense of greed.
You’ll be doing your dirty business across a number of solar systems, each with their own identity from the cold waste land of our own solar system to one that’s as bright and colourful as a children’s Television show where the cute critters are trying to murder you in their little spaceships. Awww.
The concept of creating a wide array of business ventures across the solar system, upgrading them with a click of a button, exploring the vastness of space to claim resources and recruiting business managers stuck in the middle of space is rather captivating. There's even a mechanic in the game where you'll have to keep a number of executives happy by showering with gifts you can find on your adventures in space or by some retro inspired playing mini games. You’ll be hooked from the get go to make big bucks and watching those figures in the top right corner of the screen go up is immensely exciting. What makes it even more worthwhile is that even though the money rolls in, it’s tough work to keep it doing so.
Along with building your enterprises across the galaxies, there’s also a heavy focus on combat. It’s a great idea as after you explore, build and wait for the money to come in, you have to do something else. Don’t worry there’s plenty else to do, from fighting pirates, giant space worms and cute critters with a taste of blood. You can also partake in racing events and shoot asteroids for vital resources. Combat can be very enjoyable, with a sense of impact and intensity when fighting a large number of enemies but it can be also extremely infuriating.
The biggest problem with combat comes down to two things, first it can be a little unbalanced. The rate of damage caused by NPCs can be a problem due to the enemy count becoming completely ridiculous at the worst of times. Vostok Inc can prove a little relentless by bombarding you with overwhelming NPCs numbers and with certain factors throwing the balance in their favour. Having smaller enemies that can drain your shields down in seconds, a total lack of resources for first aid while away from Motherbase and just the sheer number of enemies at once creates a sense of artificial difficulty.
There's hardly a moment where you can explore in peace without a barrage of enemies bombarding you or where the screen locks, forcing you to face a monumental amount of enemy fire. These moments can be avoided by killing the few NPCs known as Scouts but their behaviour patterns are inconsistent, often flying off screen meaning you can't shoot them and thus get locked in another immense battle. I wouldn't mind so much but these encounters pop up a little too frequent as well, halting your progress to a complete stop. I enjoyed the combat for the most part but wished the game would allow more moments of peace so that I could go and explore. Even defeating the a boss makes no difference to the enemy count. You could fight the same boss over and over and it just seemed as though enemies became more relentless after the main event.
Second problem with this is the penalty for death. Now I understand that is fair to face some form of punishment for death and having half of your money taken is acceptable. In early stages it’s painful, I screamed with hatred after losing a few million. But when I was making billions, it just became a mild annoyance for a couple of times I did die. But losing your entire management staff that help you make an extra percentage on your income seemed a little aggressive. Considering you have to go out and pick up a new team all over again even if you have built up a large number of people in the managing department. This felt more like padding, to encourage more exploration and to complete an additional side task over and over again.
Vostok Inc was also a game I had trouble getting into at first and during the first couple of hours, it’s a mess. The pacing goes at a maddening level that you can’t let anything sink in, have information processed and you’ll lose track of what and how to do stuff! It doesn’t help that there’s so much going on screen at any given moment and the only resource of information or a guide pops up quickly out of nowhere and goes just as quick. You can recap on information but there are often tons of pointless jokes and dialogues to troll through to get to something that’s relevant.
Also your guide is annoying as hell! If you love the same 6 jokes repeated over and over and over again throughout your play through. Then you’re in for a wild ride. Not only that but he’s one of those characters with an annoying, squeaky form of communication (like Not a Hero’s bunny Lord – which could’ve ruined the game if it weren’t so damn good). If I have to hear “Stock update – Ejector seats are through the roof” again I’ll die!
There’s also a lack of guides in the options which would’ve been more helpful as some elements such as upgrading or how to keep Executives happy is kept to an ultra-minimum and you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.
But if you get past the first couple of hours then you’ll enjoy the hell out of this game.
Overall Vostok Inc was a game that has to take time to grow on you, as the first few hours can be a nightmare. Extreme difficulty spikes, lack of guidance and info and the worst type of supporting character you can think of “helping” you out. But once you’ve build on a few planets, upgraded you weapons and explored more solar systems, then this game becomes immensely enjoyable.
++ Immersive financial gameplay elements
+ Great sense of space exploration
+ Colourful and creative universes
+ Enriching sense of progression
- Intense learning curve
- Unbalanced elements in combat
- The annoying helper
A PS4 review copy of Vostok Inc. was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review