Ceres. A simple name, but not at all a simple game. That is not to say that it is a hard game, but there is a good deal of nuance to pick up. Ceres may start with a single ship, but before long you will be issuing carefully considered commands and earning experience on an adventure that may well slip under this year’s release radar – but it absolutely worth a look for space strategy fans.
Something about Ceres clicked with me right away. The Earth has been destroyed, and in its place is essentially an asteroid field that humans once called home. It is a dark, somber thread to begin the game, and a pivotal piece of the story – The Gate – certainly reminded me of Mass Effect technology. However, once you fire up your ship and settle in with your captain, I found the basic premise as well as the various progression hooks to be very engrossing.
There is a great deal to do, but it does not come easily right away. You have to manage resource use, figure out how skills wielded by your captain can come into play, figure out how to best upgrade the ship and manage a balancing act between materials, ammo and cargo. It can all be pretty daunting right out of the gates, and if you are not willing to invest a couple of hours or so into fully understanding the game’s mechanics, Ceres will likely never quite click for you
Once it does click however, Ceres was hard to stop playing. Missions come in a variety of flavors, finding new locations is fun and taking on pirate vessels is both nerve-wracking and quite rewarding. This is a single player experience, which allows for a good deal of depth. The story is about your captain, your ship – not a competitive online environment. This works for me.
What did not work as well, were some of the questionable user interfaces – particularly inventory management. There are plenty of rough edges when you are trying to pull in necessary information, controlling ships, recognition of friendly vs enemy ships, which ship you have selected and menus that are incredibly dense and not the easiest of things to navigate. These only exacerbate the already challenging learning curve, which could be helped with tips that talk about how to double right-click on ships or how to set the points of interest and how repairs are a much bigger emphasis than you might realize out of the gates. These things hold up the learning process, and even when you do feel that you know your way around the core mechanics of Ceres, little quirks pop up every now and then that can prove distracting.
The presentation is a mixed bag, with adequate sound effects, a nice musical score and visuals that get the job done without ever really being impressive. Everything runs well, the game seemed quite optimized on my machine, allowing me to focus on my ship and captain’s development and not having to worry about fiddling with settings for the game itself.
Ceres is actually a great deal of fun if you give it a chance. It is going to appeal to shoe looking for a deeper, single player space strategy game than those looking for action-based firefights. You have to be willing to sink some time in, because Ceres also has its own unique pacing and mechanics that require you to invest in learning them. Were the training materials a bit more comprehensive, this learning process could have been smoothed out, but once you get the hang of things, the systems are deep and thoroughly enjoyable, capable of providing many hours of quality play.
Article by Nick