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Shame on me for not bringing up Star "Crusader Kings in Space" Dynasties earlier

by: Randy -
More On: Star Dynasties

Star Dynasties has been immediately (and probably correctly) labeled as "Crusader Kings in space." Which I'm 100 percent okay with. Developer Paradox Interactive has proven, year after year, that they're not going to make Crusader Kings in space, so the relatively unknown Pawley Games accepted the challenge. And trust me, Paradox's Stellaris, while building strength upon strength in sci-fi grand strategy games, was decidedly not Crusader Kings in space.

There's really nothing like Crusader Kings, which in turn means there's really nothing like Crusader Kings in space, e.g., Star Dynasties. The vast majority of sci-fi grand strategy games focus you on 4X strategies like ship building, army movement, and colony building. Star Dynasties certainly has that. But the Crusader Kings part of gameplay comes in with how much drama exists on top of all those military and political strategies and logistics.

Instead of focusing on getting +1 to your battlecruiser guns, or adding a space elevator to Colony XYZ, the focus is on dynastic houses and the political intrigue and shenanigans therein. You're not given perfect information in a game like Star Dynasties. Because your council will turn on you. Or an opponent's council were turn on them. And you might be drained of your energy to fight the neighboring empire because, well, it might be your mother-in-law running that show, and you've somehow fallen madly and inexplicably in love with her. Stuff happens.

Sorry for the back and forth, but the comparisons between Crusader Kings and Star Dynasties are relevant. A lot of the game takes place in menus, perhaps backed by nothing other than the portrait of a person that basically looks like a portrait of the next person. Crusader Kings III took huge strides in making its menu-driven gameplay more palatable with more artwork and more variety and life breathed into its people. Star Dynasties, however, looks built more on the Crusader Kings II (that's a two) model, which had a whole lot more lookalike portraits of leaders buried in menu-driven gameplay. It takes a little work on the player's part to lift the drama off the page. But there's a reason why CK2 eventually hit it big. Because it turns out people wanted more daytime soap drama out of their grand strategy, and a little less worrying about gunships and tax rates.

Star Dynasties kicked off its Steam Early Access period on March 16.