What is Sunrider: First Arrival?


Update 13-12-14: This review has now been supplanted by the more current review labeled Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius Though it shall be left up I encourage people to read that one instead. You are Captain Kayto Shields, freshly promoted and put in charge of one of the largest and most impressive ships in the fleet, the Sunrider. You arrive to find the ship resting majestically in space dock and prepare to take her out on a shakedown cruise. However before you can begin the evil Pact empire launches an all-out assault against your home world and forces you to flee into the depths of space to lick your wounds. Unfortunately due to this only being a planned shakedown cruise you are now stuck alone in the universe without many of the key components of your ship, like a medical officer or engineer. From here you must rally your troops, find allies and fight back. What actually follows from here is a visual novel/dating sim/tactical wargame. Now anyone who has played any of these genres before will probably have realised that one of these things is not like the others things but to the games credit they merge together quite well giving me a vibe of Mass effect as you fight in grad epic space battles and then journey around your ship interacting with the crew, assigning upgrades and generally pushing the story onward with several key decisions left up to your broad shoulders. These will often affect not only how key members of your crew think of you but also how the war will proceed. Do you attack an open base on the enemies front lines or go after slavers recently surfaced a few systems over? As you proceed your crew will grow as you will acquire new pilots and fill many of the empty slots in your ships rota. Granted pretty much everyone you will acquire this way will be a slightly unusual, very pretty woman about your age and as you can guess, increasing crew morale will not just mean you get to go camping with them. 2014-08-10_00002 I have been making a lot of Star Trek refrences throughout this review so far and I don’t think that’s quite fair. After all the game seems far more taken with the new Battlestar Galactica series, from the general idea of the plot to the visuals of the ship and crew along with a good deal of the soundtrack and ambient noises though with a heavy anime influence. Not that this is a bad thing of course. As long as it doesn’t start drawing from post season two. 2014-08-10_00001 Mercifully unlike Mass Effect you do not need to literally run around your ship to meet up with your crew between missions and instead you are given a very nice looking layout of your ship where you can merely pick which floor and then click on portraits of your crew to go straight to them. Their stories are not the most original in the world and I think none will truly shock anyone familiar with the genre too much. Having said that each is fairly well written and decent enough for fans of the genre so that you will be easily able to tell them apart in likes and personality and thus when the choices do come up you can usually easily tell which ones certain crew members will appreciate and which they won’t not that this will always make the decisions easy. All of this surrounds what I consider the main thrust of the game play which is the combat itself. As battle approaches you will launch your mechas, a collection that will grow as the game proceeds and then engage the enemy on a large grid. Each action you and your mechs take will cost energy, whether that being movement, firing weapons or using buffs. Everybody will have their own gauge to draw from and each action is clearly labelled so that you can mentally map out your actions with the knowledge that the closer you are to the enemy that more chance you’ve got of your shots hitting their mark along with an option to take back an action as soon as it has been performed. This percentage on how likely you are to hit is show like everything else, though this is instead marked on the enemies themselves which means that after you select your weapon you can figure out what you’ve got the best chance against, not that that will always be the best choice. Each of your mechs will play differently, with some favouring getting up close and personal while others will want to hang back and require a good meat shield to distract the enemy. The controls on the tactical side of the game aren’t the best in the world such as having to click directly in the middle of the square your unit is stood on, something that gets slightly frustrating in the middle of combat and the screen being significantly smaller than the battle grid itself. Now there is the option to enable scrolling on the battle grid but this is hidden away in the corner and not mentioned by the game itself just like the ability to scroll out which means that in the first few battles you fight you will have shots coming in out of nowhere from enemy units you didn’t know about and your own units hidden behind buttons and such with you being unable to select them. This is a minor problem and as I say, when you find the scrolling option it soon sorts itself out but perhaps that is why it stuck out for me. This is a great game with what I find such an obvious, tiny flaw that it feels odd that somebody who can put together the rest of this game could have missed it. 2014-08-14_00001 The game comes with a few difficulty settings, including visual novel mode which means that while it is still technically possible to loose you would have to park in front of the enemy and wait a good few turns first. I feel that this is a bit of a waste when you have such a great combat game in here, especially as it seems you will be missing out on over half the game by avoiding it but I like that it’s there as an option for those that want it though perhaps it would have been better to allow a one hit one kill rule or just to allow you to skip the battle entirely as it now personally makes it a bit of a drag to get through. The only other thing I would mention is that this game is the first in a trilogy, and by trilogy I mean that this is really only the first third of a full game giving you only about seven hours play time at best for a single run through. In summary the game looks great, sounds great and plays well with the combat being an incentive for those not overly fond of visual novels. Going for free on Steam this is better than a lot of games going for money and I recommend you to check it out.


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