Welcome to Vostok Inc., where you are put in charge of a galactic corporation in search of riches, danger, and rescuing floating managers from imminent death. Along the way, you will meet dastardly leaders from different factions who will try to thwart your plans. Get your thumbs ready for a workout in BadLand Games' frantic shooter reminiscent of old arcade games like Space Invaders and Asteroid.
Vostok Inc. can be found on Steam for $14.99.
I wouldn't say there is a story, but the devs have done a pretty good job of making a pseudo-story that makes you think you are actually in one. Your advisor, Jimmy, explains the game to you like your typical RPG. Do 'x" and you will receive great rewards, is really code for "Buy enough factories and you will get a slight boost to your production bonus." But we will go into that in a little bit. The only semblance of a story in the game is the different faction leaders in each solar system. They will occasionally talk to your advisor about how they are gonna ruin you, sending enemies your way, but it's more fluff than substance.
You are more than welcome to play with a keyboard (mouse isn't used) but the keys are in very weird configurations. However, if you do choose to, WASD is your movement like most games and the arrow keys control the direction you are shooting. Shift is your boost, the enter key is your options menu, and if you have more than one weapon, IJKL is how you switch (this is what made me switch to a controller). After using the keyboard for ten minutes trying to get the hang of it, my controller was all messed up with its keybindings. Not sure if this was a one-time thing, but restarting the game corrected this.
You control a spaceship around a 2d spacescape and begin with a simple machine gun to protect yourself or shoot asteroids. The asteroids are stationary, but shooting them produce Moolah as well as breaking up into smaller pieces. That is where the Asteroids reference comes from and is a nice little touch.
After a few minutes of shooting 'roids, you will get some enemies that warp in and try to shoot you. This is where the twin-stick shooter comes in. Left stick will move you in the directions and the right stick will shoot in that direction, easy peasy. You get a boost that drains your energy, which is also your shield, so you can zip around between planets.
When you arrive at a planet, you "land" and are presented with a menu where you can purchase various buildings to start producing Moolah, which you need to buy anything and everything in the game. Enter the idle/clicker game mechanics. Regardless of the planet you land on, you have the same options of what to build. Start off with a low-cost mine and it provides a small trickle. Get enough Moolah and you can buy one of five upgrades, each one costing exponentially more than the last. I didn't count, but there are somewhere around twenty different buildings you unlock through playing. Just like other idle games, i.e. AdVenture Capitalist, once you get a certain number of buildings, you get an achievement that will give you another boost to your production.
After you unlock a few new things and achievements, you get introduced to Managers, which depending on the type you get, give you a slew of upgrades or bonuses to your planets. Scattered around the solar system is small green canisters that give you items to make your managers happy. Higher happiness increases bonuses, while making them mad will decrease them; so be sure to keep them as happy as bees. In the menus, you can go into each manager type and give them items you pick up but also each one has a different little game played on a device very similar to a Tamagachi from the 90's. Scoring well on these mini-games can reward you with even more production bonus.
As you kill enemies and amass a small fortune, you will gain levels, which only affect the enemy difficulty as far as I noticed. You will eventually run into scout ships that, if not killed, will bring you into a locked-screen battle. No longer are you free to go where you want, but are stuck in the small area, bombarded with enemies shooting plasma balls and missiles at you. Wave after wave attack you, sometimes in patterns akin to Space Invaders or Galaga.
Helping you along the way to deal with these harder enemies and encounters, is your Mother Ship. Here you can buy upgrades to your weapons, scanner, or ship. Having the choice of three different weapon slots, you can mix and match different combinations of machine gun, missile, and laser. This changes how your guns behave, for example, two machine gun slots makes a shotgun burst with knockback. Just be careful what you take into battle, or you could be stuck, or worse; die and lose half your Moolah on hand.
All in all, the gameplay is solid and the combat is a nice touch to an idle game, which is what this game is at its core. You will never be able to make more money fighting or mining than you will from your buildings. This is sad because the combat is what makes Vostok Inc. stand out from the plethora of idle/clicker games out there.
The sound is somewhat of an issue, for me at least. Upon loading the game, even with my main sound at 50%, my ears were blasted off with the music. Unfortunately, I had to listen to the whole spiel from Jimmy before I could fly around on my own. Couple this with having no idea where the options menu was, I was left deaf for a good ten minutes until I finally found out how to turn down the music and sound fx. Even putting them on their lowest setting of 12.5%, the music was still too loud to listen to and I had to turn down the game even further in my Volume Mixer settings. Otherwise, the sounds are nice and what you would expect from a cartoonish space game. Lasers sound like lasers, engines boosting the same. Nothing stands out, but nothing is really supposed to.
Vostok Inc. is a quirky little game that will hold a special place in my heart, as well as those who love this type of game. While at its core it is an idle game, there is enough RPG and rogue-lite here to keep you interested in doing something other than stare at numbers go up. Is it worth a $15 price tag? That would be up to the buyer in my opinion. Where the competition has microtransactions around every corner upwards of $100, this has zero, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars; if you are so inclined to spend real money on premium currency that is. The lack of a "Windowed" option will delegate this game to when I have time to actually play it, but that's ok with me.
|+ Addicting action-idle combo gameplay||– Lack of options, particularly Windowed mode|
|+ Ship upgrades actually feel worth it||– Overly loud without changing in Volume Mixer|
|+ No microtransactions||– Keyboard controls work, but layout is lacking|
|+ 80's nostalgic gameplay||– Price (subjective)|