Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Finally. It has finally happened. In the past three or four years there has been a massive outpouring of support from development studios large and small for space-based video games. From the absolute juggernaut that Elite: Dangerous has become to the much maligned (but still not horrible) X-Rebirth release to a smattering of stellar 4X titles (pun intended) like Endless Space 2 or Galactic Civilizations III; space games have recaptured the world and every year more and more excellent titles are released giving the fans of space games more than their share of bodacious titles to play. Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock, minus a few balancing issues that Black Lab Games has assured us are being cleared up, is an excellent licensed turn-based strategy game.
Deadlock is not simply “paying homage” to the Battlestar Universe … it is the embodiment of love and respect towards a franchise that has existed near the forefront of sci-fi fandom since 1978. Few other game franchises can boast a longer direct history, and Deadlock manages the near-impossible by not slaughtering the (massive) existing lore. In fact, it does the exact opposite by lovingly embracing the designs, lore, and even some of the characters (human, ship or otherwise). Familiar names mingle with new characters in the new, original story that perfectly segues at the start of the campaign and is a fantastic spinoff where the original Battlestar Galactica disappeared on a shakedown voyage where the Cylons then attack your home base, destroying the local command structure leaving you in charge.
If ever there was a franchise built for the WEGO 3D turn-based combat engine, it is Battlestar Galactica. Every single encounter that you come into will feel like it belongs in the 2004 televised revisit to the Battlestar franchise. The only real difference is that you can actually hear the explosions in space (to this day both Battlestar Galactica and Firefly amaze me with their attention to detail with regard to sound in space). I think that the biggest issue I had with the combat was that I could not get close enough; Vipers are awesome, like super awesome, but it was difficult to really get in and see what was happening when you set your Vipers to harass a Cylon Talon or Revenant. However, during the replay video using the autocam mode, you can see some spectacular camera angles (reminiscent of the “over the shoulder” camera angle found in the 2004 revisit) which can be utterly amazing to see. Though … some of the movements can also be super jarring as they are very “snappy” in their turns, rather than the languid-yet-agile movements by Vipers in the TV show. Still, super freaking awesome to see a replay from cinematic angles that mimic the franchise histories.
Combat, for the moment, feels a little imbalanced due to a few issues with human missiles doing less damage than they should. Combine that to the relatively horrific kamikaze tendencies of the Cylon Talons and you have some potentially terrifying (and worse, expensive) situations. Though it feels artificially inflated and is (thankfully) temporary, it does add a bit of tension to each battle; it will, though, be a welcome change once Black Lab Games works those last few bugs out.
There is a neat aspect to Deadlock that, in retrospect, feels like an incredibly simplified version of the XCOM method of colony politics. Each month you receive a stiped of Tylium based on how happy the various colonies are. Just like in XCOM, where when you connect with other countries and protect them, you can gain more monthly income which you can then spend for purchasing new ships, upgrading existing fleets, and making FTL jumps. Now the last bit, while I get costs resources, is a bit problematic at times. There were a number of times where I had to let Cylon attacks happen because I could not afford the FTL jump to make it to the area to stop the attack which in turn would reduce the monthly income. The issue comes into the availability of resources.
In three separate restarts I found that if I jumped (i.e. traveled) to the site of each Cylon attack, I did not have enough resources to replace lost ships, so I could either let colonies fall and build a suitable fleet that I could not replace later on (due to the lack of regular income), or I could spend the resources to make the jumps to the various attacks, thus maintaining high income, but not being able to replenish the fleet, however that fleet would be upgraded via the upgrades system and would be incredibly powerful, if extremely small (which works against you in some of the later missions as you need to split your forces or you will fail). I think reducing jump costs, or reducing the number of attacks by Cylons (which is the cheap and lame way of doing it) could help reduce that issue. Nevermind having to purchase the blueprints for new, more powerful ships (that you then need to spend the precious little resources on). Starving players for resources feels a bit cheap in my opinion…
Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock delivers with a fantastically written original story that respects the source material, engaging gameplay that (once balanced) provides just the right mix between challenging situations and making the player feel like an all-powerful toaster-destroying armchair commander. The delicate balance of resources versus risk is certainly there, though still tipped a bit more towards “risk without reward” at the moment; hopefully that changes with future updates. Outside of that, the voice acting is phenomenal, the combat is amazing, and the story is excellent; Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock most certainly belongs in any space or strategy gamer’s repertoire.Score: 8.5 / 10