The Spatials is 50% space stations building sim, 50% sci-fi RPG with real-time squad-based battles, and 100% premium gaming fun. If you've ever ventured into the App Store looking for a building sim, you know how unbelievably crowded this space is on mobile. However, if you could somehow refine your search by looking only for PC quality space station building sims that also offer exploration and combat and have no timers, premium currencies, or other freemium trappings, chances are, the only game that would pop up in your search results would be The Spatials.
The Spatials is an indy game (also available for desktop operating systems) that seeks to combine the best of several genres in an attempt to make something fun and unique (in case you don't have time to read this entire review; they succeeded). Your primary task is to build your space station into a thriving tourist destination. You begin with only a few build options, but as you build, you will unlock additional rooms, which will, in turn, unlock additional rooms. It's not quite that easy, of course, because the more advanced additions will require resources and research points that must be acquired by completing away missions. This is where the combat comes in. As you send your increasingly intelligent and capable crew on ever more difficult missions, you will not only get the building resources you need, but will also acquire some very cool gear to outfit your team. While adding a combat element into a base building game certainly isn't new, The Spatials manages to take the stress out of this portion by allowing it to happen away from your beautiful, meticulously designed space station. I can't tell you how much I appreciate being able to compartmentalize the combat from the building as doing so actually makes combat enjoyable rather than frustrating. If you've ever played a game that allowed enemies to destroy what you've lovingly built knows exactly of what I speak. The building interface is clean and intuitive, and the game has a Rollercoaster Tycoon (the original, not the freemium remake) feel to it as you slowly expand your tiny space station into a bustling tourist destination. Each playthrough is completely unique as the planets, missions, monsters, and loot will be freshly generated for each game.
As previously mentioned, there are no timers or premium currencies in The Spatials. Build as quickly as you can without having to constantly log out/in as the arbitrary build timer counts down, stridently urging you to purchase gems/gold/diamonds/etc in order to keep playing. This may seem odd at first for many mobile gamers who aren't accustomed to full and unfettered access to their games the way desktop gamers are. Once you get used to it, though, you will remember what gaming is supposed to be like. The only complaint I have about The Spatials is that it could use a difficulty slider as it may be a bit too easy once you get the hang of it.
The Spatials is a relatively simple game, graphically speaking. This isn't to say that the artwork is crude, however. Everything is smoothly animated, and the level of detail is excellent. In fact, it all looks quite nice; even when you space station fills the screen and the tourists are swarming all over it.
The sound effects are understated, as they should be for a game like this with lots going on simultaneously. The music is also quite pleasant. Thanks to it's soft, new age soundtrack, I actually left the music enabled as I played; something that I don't usually do.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
As I said, no IAPs of any kind. Buy it once, and play it forever. Possibly the only base building game on the App Store that can make that claim.
The Spatials is a "unicorn" on today's App Store. It successfully combines base building with RPG-like real-time combat, and does so without forcing players to wait for timers or purchase freemium currencies. If you're a mobile gamer and have ever wondered what that would be like, here's your chance to find out. And, if you're a former desktop gamer and are feeling like a bit of an expatriate on mobile, The Spatials is the real thing, so what are you waiting for?
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Smoothly animated meticulously drawn sprite-based graphics. Sound: - 4 - Perfectly understated sound effects, and an enjoyably unobtrusive soundtrack. Controls: - 5 - Well organized and dead-simple interface makes base-building a cinch. Gameplay: - 5 - Fantastic base building with enjoyable away missions, all without timers or premium currencies. Needs a difficulty slider, however.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Just wade in and start building. The Spatials is extremely forgiving (even failed away missions won't cost you any personnel). Speaking of away missions, get exploring at your earliest opportunity; you'll need the resources.