Review: Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?!07 Mar 2018 2
Review: Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?!
Released 01 Mar 2018
When you imagine space age potatoes, do you think of a dehydrated potato-based product in a silver vacuum-sealed packet? Or do you envisage sassy potato cartoon characters, many of which have more than a passing resemblance to pop culture icons? If you chose the latter, then you are probably already familiar with Daylight’s previous work on Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?!.
As you will have no doubt guessed from the title, Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! continues the developer’s fascination with both punctuation and potatoes. However, in the true spirit of equality and diversity, whole new ranges of vegetable-based characters have decided to go where no vegetable has gone before. In another nod towards a more enlightened age, The Starchip Crispyfries (as I decided to name my ship, awful puns being worryingly contagious) is commanded by strong-willed sisters Cassie and Fey. Their mission is to rescue their grandfather from the evil clutches of Hal, head of a powerful organisation known as Eclipse.
In a nutshell (or peapod) Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! is a light-hearted take on the classic spaceship combat and management game Faster Than Light, but obviously with more potatoes. You navigate your ship from galaxy to galaxy exploring planets, gathering resources and defeating enemy ships. After seeing the sights, you can make a pit stop at the central hub to refuel, and repair your battered hull. The hub is also the place to purchase a range of rudely shaped weapons and hire additional crew members. Tension is cleverly ramped up by giving you only a limited amount of time in which to explore the current galaxy and to complete the present mission. Hang around for too long and a formidable Eclipse ship will catch up with you, and more than likely turn your crew into a side order of pureed vegetables.
From the galaxy map, you can set a course for a nearby planet and then carry out some exploration. This is a great way to gather extra resources for crafting new equipment and for earning some extra cash. On your planetside visit, you may encounter one of the many bizarre set pieces. In one such episode you need to decide whether or not to help an upset old onion lady pick up her scattered groceries.
Sooner rather than later, you will come face-to-face with your first enemy vessel. Combat is turn-based; you select one of your gunners and assign them a target on the enemy craft. Maybe you want to try to take out a particularly dangerous weapon, or focus on wrecking the enemy’s hull for a quick victory. Some weapons such as lasers can inflict a lot of damage to a single target whilst others like shrapnel cannons do less individual damage, but will attack multiple targets. Using weapons costs energy so you need to keep an eye on your charge level.
Since you start the game with relatively puny weapons your energy supplies are never in any real danger of running low. However, as you make use of ever more powerful weapons, their power demands on your energy supplies become a real drain. You also have a shield that you can position to protect a section of your ship. If a weapon post is destroyed, the unfortunate crewmember will not die but they will become traumatised and need some time in therapy to recover from their PTSD (Potato Traumatic Stress Disorder). Overall, it is a nice simple system that doesn’t offer the same depth and mayhem as Faster Than Light but can still be tense and exciting.
Graphics are bright and breezy, with the crew and ship designs adding real character to the game. The interface also works well, although moving around the ship and allocating crew seems to take a few more taps than is strictly necessary. The developers have also played great care to the game’s audio, there is a range of suitably rousing tunes created by renowned composer Jeffrey Brice that fit the game perfectly.
Despite being just a bunch of vegetables, the game tries hard to bring the characters to life. Crewmembers gain individuality by, for instance, specialising in using a particular class of weapon, or restoring damaged equipment. The two sisters are like chalk and cheese and the interplay between them provides many of the game’s best laughs. The ship itself can also be customised to suit individual preferences. You can opt for a fast but only lightly armoured fighter or a powerful but cumbersome juggernaut.
The key to success in Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! is clever time management. Despite the cartoony light-hearted theme, things can get deceptively tough. Balancing the need to hang around in a galaxy to enhance your ship against showing Eclipse a clean pair of heels before your time in the current galaxy expires is a tricky art to master. Successful players will need to progress through the game at the right pace. Blaze though the levels too quickly and you will hit a brick wall. Thankfully, three save states are automatically recorded, so you should be able to step back far enough to remedy any mistakes that you may have made.
Humour in games can be tough to pull off, and although Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! largely manages to do this successfully, there will inevitably be players who simply don’t get the references or find the whole theme too immature. The limited battle options mean that after a while combat becomes rather bland and repetitive, and as the crew’s repair skills improve it can also end up becoming frustrating prolonged. The result is a game that loses some of the excitement and intensity of Faster Than Light.
Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! is a neat game, the memorable characters, fun storyline and clear objectives will appeal to players who prefer a less demanding story- based approach, rather than battling through randomly generated galaxies.