Star Nomad 2 was developed and published by Huy Phan. It was released on December 14th, 2015. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels.
Star Nomad 2 is a 2d space exploration, trading, and battle experience in a crisp fun shell. The easy game comparisons are FTL, Space Pirates and Zombies, and Void Expanse. The interesting mechanic that sets Star Nomad 2 aside is the real time events going on throughout the galaxy. A food shortage means trade profits for those willing to deliver; likewise a medicine delivery to a virus ridden planet yields large gains.
What I enjoyed:
Square one – The systems you travel to are squares which contain different planets, asteroid belts, or stations. The idea of squares in space may seem a bit flat, but in this particular case it works well. The idea of using corners and edges to navigate is fairly intuitive and I was able to discern where I was travelling with little difficulty.
Trading up – I love a good “start from nothing and build a fortune to buy a huge ship” narrative, Elite: Dangerous being my favorite, so this was right up my alley. I love the depth and level of upgrade available in Star Nomad 2. There are a number of different weapons and upgrades for your ship, and then various expensive ships to upgrade into. As a trade you could eventually buy a huge freighter to carry large amounts of cargo.
Pew Pew – The space battle is simple, maybe a bit too much so but fun and fast paced regardless. There are weapons that will auto fire, and others you choose to fire at the right time for the best effect. You’ll need to run if the group of pirates out guns you, and death comes very easily so be cautious.
What I disliked:
In this economy – The numbers in the game seem a bit skewed towards failure in terms of the financial progress and upgrade potential. I found that during the roguelike difficulty the space stations were charging my trader 500 credits plus damage repair to land, in the normal mode it was a much more reasonable 250 credits. In the rougelike difficulty I found myself flat broke and unable to land to offload goods effectively ending my game each time that happened. In both modes a substantial upgrade of a ship felt like it would take a long period of time to obtain. That says something for replay value but gaining money takes time, possibly too much to risk all your money on roguelike difficulty.
Chaos ensues – The combat may be relatively easy in terms of ship control, but it’s chaotic and confusing at times. I found myself accidentally hitting friendly ships with missiles or shooting at a pirate far too powerful for my weapons. The user interface could really be improved in this aspect, knowledge of your opponent’s power levels is an essential component with a large space travel game.
I found this to be a very pleasant and fun open world space adventure. The combat is fun and fast paced, the roguelike aspect adds replay and freshness, and the economy is deep and follows real time dynamic events. There are a number of big 3d space sims on the market, many of which I enjoy and have hundreds of hours into, so this is a nice change of pace while remaining in a genre that many of us love to explore. I highly recommend picking this one up if you enjoy space adventures. Star Nomad 2 is lightweight enough to trick you into hours of flight thinking you’re playing a quick space game, it’s deep, engaging, and quite fun.
Score: Buy it now