Over Space Preview: The Pitfalls of Mobile Gaming
The previews, and reviews on Android Sloth have all had the same basic format. They focus on introducing the game, focusing on what features it has and what features a game lacks, and doing so in a format that almost resembles a specifications sheet. That is because of a belief that what mobile gaming is missing is good information, and that places like Google Play do not tell users important things like whether or not a game is playable online or how much space it will take up on your phone once completely installed. This preview for Over Space – Galactic Phantasy 2 will be a little different.
Over Space – Galactic Phantasy 2 is an early access science-fiction game that was relatively recently added to Google Play. After a lengthy tutorial, players are given control of a large space-ship with lots of compartments that they can use to build up various facilities, something that should be familiar to players of X-Com or Fallout Shelter. Players can build and upgrade various spaceships, hire crew members, conduct mining missions, and more. Most of that has a timer attached to it, but given that this is a free game, that is expected. Of course premium currency allows you to skip those timers, and again, that’s par for the course.
Of course, there are also battles in the game, where players can choose which ships to use and where to place them before the battle starts. Once battles start, the AI takes over, and the player only has control over when to activate ship skills. That sounds a lot shallower than it actually is. Ship speed, range, and armor/health play a crucial role in ship positioning. Placing a quick ship in the front of your formation next to some slower tanks will result in that ship rushing off to the front lines on its own and getting destroyed. So the combat really isn’t objectionable, what absolutely ruins the game is the game’s VIP system.
Over Space embodies a lot of what’s currently wrong with mobile gaming. Now lets preface this by saying this is far from the worst thing on Google Play, there are hundreds if not thousands of games that are either fake, completely broken, clones, ignore copyright and trademarks, etc. No, this game embodies the worst things about mobile gaming among the games that make an effort at making an original product. For those unfamiliar with VIP systems, they are a tool that typically rewards people for buying things with real money. Though in Over Space players receive small amounts of VIP points daily and can spend their free secondary currency to get more.
The more you buy, the higher your VIP level is, and the more benefits it gives. For example, gacha games often give daily experience potions to people with a sufficiently high VIP level. Typically, VIP benefits will have a minimal impact on the game, with high level VIPs getting an advantage in how quickly they can progress in the game, but not an advantage in combat. This is not the case in Over Space. In Over Space a player’s VIP level also gives them a boost to the combat ability of all of their ships. At the time of this preview, a max level VIP would essentially receive a 30% power boost.
Giving paying users a combat boost is entirely game-breaking. This is not something that helps people who spend money on the game skip some of the timers, or give them extra chances to roll a better unit in a gacha game, or even allowing them to purchase chests that contain hundreds of cards in a chest & card game. This is a permanent advantage in combat that no one can see, no one can defend or develop strategy against. That is what puts this game outside of the realm of “eh, normal in app purchases for a free game”, and firmly into the realm of “pay to win”, alongside the likes of Game of War and the dozens of similar games. And that ends up being the long and short of a lot of mobile games. It’s not necessarily a bad game, but the IAPs ruin whatever potential it had.
Let it be made perfectly clear, this is not about the fact that this game has in app purchases. There are plenty of games that handle IAPs in a way that doesn’t harm the game for everyone else. That includes games like Clash of Clans that match players based on their relative strength or PVP rank. Where players with similar strength tend to get matched up against each other, regardless of IAPs. Over Space simply isn’t one of those games. It gives players who spend money in the game an advantage in combat, that crosses the line. So if you are looking for a new game to play, do yourself a favour and skip Over Space – Galactic Phantasy 2.
Looking for something a little bit better? check out 5 of the best platformers on Android.