Jumplight Odyssey Preview: Space Survival Trial & Error

Jumplight Odyssey presents a difficult space management simulator where you are constantly evading enemies from behind. You must create a self-sufficient ship that can take you to the stars. There’s a lot of trial-and-error, with the tutorial only giving you the basics. You are thrown into the deep end, but there’s still fun to be had if you stay with it.

Jumplight Odyssey Preview: Space Survival Trial & Error

Surviving in space is difficult because being self-sufficient is hard. It’s even tougher when there’s a hostile alien race at your back, threatening to destroy you. Every action you make is inherently timed, and you must decide whether your escape route is worth it. Do you risk taking short trips to get enough supplies, or is getting away from the enemy your biggest priority?

By forcing players to make crucial decisions, Jumplight Odyssey provides a great strategic challenge. However, the game throws you into the deep end with its tutorial as it only covers the basics. There’s a lot of trial-and-error as you lose multiple games just learning what to do. But if you manage to stick with it, there’s a lot of depth in this game.

Jumplight Odyssey is available on Steam’s Early Access for USD 29.99.

Jumplight Odyssey - Early Access Reveal Trailer

Story – Traveling to the Forever Star

Jumplight Odyssey starts on a sad note as it involves the losers of an intergalactic war running away. An alien race known as the Zutopans have destroyed an entire planet, with attempts to fight back failing miserably. The survivors are fleeing to the Forever Star, a legendary planet that acts as a sanctuary. But the Zutopans are eager to solidify their win and chase the survivors down to finish them off.

It’s a tragic backstory that actually ties into the gameplay well. The captain of the ship is a former princess who is just trying to keep things together. Everyone on board is a survivor, though many are still at risk of dying when the Zutopans catch up. People are tired, hungry, and weary from the experience. But they still hang on, because the Forever Star represents their last bastion of hope.

A fate you want to avoid at all costs.

A fate you want to avoid at all costs.

But even though everyone is tired of fighting, you can’t stop because the Zutopans are at your back. It doesn’t matter how far you travel or where you go. Until you reach the Forever Star, you are always looking over your shoulder. Every planet you visit is a stepping stone for your eventual goal or you lose.

Similar to Aliens: Dark Descent, you are starting at a great disadvantage. It’s up to you to turn this crisis into an opportunity and take your people to safety. Or die trying, because this game is difficult and failure is expected. No one said getting to the Forever Star was easy, and you don’t have a choice since you learn on the job.

Gameplay – Finding Out What Works

Similar to Darkest Dungeon II, Jumplight Odyssey is a game that requires multiple failures to teach you. While there is a tutorial, it only touches on the fundamentals and doesn’t go any further. You are thrown into the deep end and must learn what to do yourself. This means learning what you don’t have at the last minute and getting destroyed by the Zutopans.

This isn’t always bad, since learning by doing is a big part of survival management games. You are never going to do things optimally the first time, and that’s okay. It will be frustrating because you think you did well, only to get blindsided by something you forgot. But failure is a good teacher and you remember it for the next run.

Knowing how to get water is important because it's not obvious.

Knowing how to get water is important because it’s not obvious.

On one hand, it’s nice to get experience while you play. It’s similar to a roguelike game as every experience makes you better. On the other, it gets frustrating when it feels like many concepts could have been explained during the tutorial. Many of your losses aren’t going to be from unexpected occurrences as they are from a lack of information.

Tutorial – Could Cover More Topics

There is no teacher like failure and it’s unreasonable to expect anyone to be good at a game the first time. Mistakes are expected, especially when you don’t know how fast the Zutopans move or what benefits to prioritize. As frustrating as failure is, it makes you a better leader for the future. It also teaches you to take advantage of the technology in your ship.

The problem comes when most of that information feels like it would have been necessary to know in advance. What each of the rooms can do, the benefits of making them, balancing resource management, etc. While it’s not bad to learn about them as you play, it feels like the game could have included them in the tutorial.

While there isn’t much as much content to explore, it will be helpful when other leaders come in or new ships arrive. It’s nice to experiment and learn when surprises pop up, rather than have concepts not properly explained to you.

The freedom is nice but also confusing without direction.

The freedom is nice but also confusing without direction.

A great example would be crew relationships. Seeing them interact and bond with each other is great, but it’s not covered in the tutorial. Why it’s important, whether it adds value, those concepts would be helpful to know. But they aren’t covered and it’s given a cursory glance. It’s unfortunate because it’s also something that’s shown in the gameplay pictures.

While Early Access means that the game has plenty of opportunities to add more information, it feels lacking at the moment. More detail could make gameplay more enjoyable, but that must come later.

Audio & Visuals – Anime & 3D Visuals Together

Jumplight Odyssey has anime cutscenes which give it a traditional cartoon feel. It helps show the brilliance of the technology and amplifies the tragic moments. Rather than go for still pictures, it really drives home how desperate the survivors are and the danger from the Zutopans.

It’s also great to see the 3D visuals onboard the ship. The spacecraft itself looks great and the interior gives off a futuristic feel. People onboard also react just as you think they would in space. They float around, analyze technology, and interact with each other in realistic ways. This also applies for injuries in case bad things happen.

The audio is also responsive and you know when something bad is happening. Positive reactions are also easy to look out for. The cutscenes also have the right audio to show you just how serious the situation is.

Jumplight Odyssey has a lot of potential, which you can see with its anime scenes and intricate gameplay. There's a lot to learn and you will fail as you continue to play. It's part of the learning process and you get better with each iteration. However it does feel like some information could have been covered in the tutorial, and you feel unprepared without it. There's room to fix things and improve, but right now it's tough to recommend.
  • Great visuals that include anime cutscenes
  • Lots of information to learn
  • Constant pressure drives your decisions
  • Tutorial doesn't cover important points
  • Advertised gameplay aspects are glossed over
  • Steep learning curve

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