Starpoint Gemini 3 review: Space-out

by Nil
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Starpoint Gemini returns with a third instalment, following up to 2014’s well-loved previous entry. With six years between them, can the series still deliver its trademark open world intergalactic good times?

The Gemini system is beautiful, and there’s something that will always be attractive about soaring through the expanse of space by yourself. Without the backdrop of a story it feels quite freeing in a way – just you, and whatever space-life you want to space-live. You can play as space-police, space-criminals, or just free-roam, living the life of a nomad, making whatever friends and enemies you please along the way. This is where Starpoint Gemini 3 really shows off the goods – it’s not as complex as some of its rivals, which makes for a surprisingly relaxing experience if you want it to be.

The campaign is useful in the sense that it helps you get acquainted to the game’s mechanics, build up some knowledge and feel a little less lost in space. But christ, is it bad. The story is basically background noise that gives you a vague reason to go from A to B, punctuated by the mouthy main character cracking “wise” every ten seconds (Side note. Can we come up with a new phrase for terrible wisecracks? Dumbcracking? S**tcracking – never mind.) The game incessantly trips on its own feet throughout the campaign, interrupting whatever fun you might be having with the nearly pointless storyline.

Starpoint Gemini 3
The asteroid-pocked vistas can be quite striking sometimes.

Starpoint Gemini 3’s hero is almostly relentlessly unlikeable and abrasive, in a way that might make you think “ugh, not this guy again” if he walked into the room. Almost all of the dialogue between him, rival captains, and the ship’s AI is witty banter that’s just about as funny as talking to your washing machine. They’re supposed to have some kind of odd – couple chemistry, with Captain Bold being the whimiscal rogue and ADAH the straight-laced organised one trying to keep him in check, but it falls flat on its face at every turn. The campaign might have been redeemable if Bold was less, well, absolutely unpleasant.

This combined this with dated character models and awkward, stilted cutscenes deliver a core campaign that really doesn’t do Starpoint Gemini’s world any justice. Outside of the story mode, there’s actually a lot of fun to be had. Taking on enemy ships is nice and straight-forward, it works well in cockpit or third person view, and on an audio-visual level it’s perfectly satisfying. Hardcore captains might prefer something a little more involved, but Starpoint Gemini 3 affords players the option to explore space as they want to, collecting resources, upgrading your ship, and carrying out various missions for rewards.

Those missions don’t have an awful lot of variety compared to its predecessor – you’ll basically be running and gunning your way to success. The thrill of exploring the galaxy and surviving incredible odds carries the game through for a time, although for me personally it lost that shine rather quickly (such is the peril of being literally any game released in November.) and after a couple of days, I felt like there wasn’t much more on offer. Maybe I’ve got RPG-lite/craft everything fatigue – who hasn’t, these days – and after a while the game’s more attractive components just weren’t enough to justify the aimless dogfighting and drifting that characterised much of my playtime.

Starpoint Gemini 3 overall thoughts

Starpoint Gemini 3 is not a title that will hook you in from the beginning, especially if you decide to start with the campaign. You’ll largely be left to make your own fun unattended in a beautiful sandbox, which will sound heavenly to some and dull to others. Despite my horrendous attention span and strong initial misgivings thanks to the weaponised douchebaggery employed in the campaign, I honestly believe that Little Green Men Games have created a gorgeous, accessible universe with plenty to offer. When it comes to the campaign, they basically built a beautiful architectural masterpiece of a theater and used it exclusively to stage community group recreations of Adam Sandler movies.

Nevertheless, there’s plenty of classic space-faring fun to be found – you definitely have to look for it, but it can be found.

Starpoint Gemini 3 is available now on Steam. You can check out some pre-release gameplay footage below!

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