Gratuitous Space Battles
The simplest premises can often provide the deepest of experiences. Such is the diverting simplicity of Gratuitous Space Battles, whose title sums up the game and yet fails to do it justice. There is no sci-fi epic story here; no great quest to save the universe, merely the profound observation that we like to watch big spaceships blow the shit out of each other.
As such, the player's experience is reduced to a series of skirmishes in which the enemy's deployed forces are presented, and the player must deploy theirs, press the button, and watch the two fleets face off. As the player is unable to interfere with the battle once it begins, this becomes a destructive Game of Life, with deployment patterns replacing black dots.
But tucked away beneath this explosive display is an insidious layer of complexity that'll eat away at your time, as players can customise their fleet to a considerable degree. Selecting a basic hull, and then strapping a wide variety of weapons and components to it the player is free to descend into a state of obsessive compulsion, their addiction fed by unlockable ships, races and equipment and the adjusting of ships' standing orders.
With the ability to post your perfect fleet online as a challenge to others, many hours can be wasted tweaking formations and loadouts even when the singleplayer missions have been completely exhausted. Though the game is entirely 2D, the visuals are smooth and detailed. Tiny escape pods flee burning wreckage, blackened smoke billows from damaged ships, and missiles and lasers fly across the screen from turrets that visibly arc and pivot.
Like Defcon or Plants vs Zombies, here lies a deeply satisfying game, beneath a humble facade.
Download Gratuitous Space Battles
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP