There’s a lot of ways to approach the space-based strategy game, with the most common by far being to try and build a vast empire while facing off against various alien factions. Praxia Entertainment’s Beyond Sol takes a different approach in that it tasks you instead with the creation of a city, as you compete with other cities to gain favour from the central government at Sol and overall control of the solar system you inhabit.
As humankind manages to effectively cure ageing, an alarming rise in population fuels a rapid attempt to expand to other worlds. Not just other worlds in our solar system, either, but reaching out to inhabit others solar systems where possible, though the majority of settlements are cities that float in Space. You are sent to a place called the Rim, an area that is the furthest humans have gone so far.
When you establish a city you may find yourself in a sector that already contains other cities. Some may be around the same size as you, while others have had more time to develop. You’re instructed to find an empty part of this new solar system and set up home, which is where the RTS aspect comes into play. You’ll need to build population centres, power stations, commercial areas, corporations to build ships, and defences to protect all the assets, all of which requires money and resources.
You take direct control of a ship in order to venture out into space and collect resources. Asteroid fields can hold a lot of valuable elements like titanium, and so it’s obvious that this would be a port of call, but there is also danger from the pirates that look to destroy and plunder any ship that gets in their sights. The asteroid fields can be avoided though, and you can instead aim for passing comets for higher rewards. When a comet isn’t nearby there will probably be a debris field where destroyed ships are floating post battle, which usually have some good loot. You’ll be made aware of all the opportunities to gain resources from notifications that keep popping up.
There isn’t a moment where you don’t have some kind of notification, be it the appearance of a comet or a city declaring war on another city. To make sure you don’t become a target you’ll need to build relations and the best way to do this is through trade. Beyond Sol’s economic system is quite diverse, with each city needing different elements and materials to keep running. One city may have a mining station that gives them a lot of Thorium which you can buy. At the same time another city might be in desperate need of Throrium, so you fly over, dock, and sell it to them for a profit.
Keeping an eye on the demand for supplies is key and if you can expand your city’s boundaries to other spaces on the map, you might strike lucky. Some contain planetoids that holds a high amount of resources, which you can mine, and once your mining station is in place you may find you can control the supply of a certain resource in the solar system. However, flooding the market with goods will see prices crash as supply outstrips demand.
These crashes are specific to each city’s economy however, and you could still find a way to profit. For example, a city in my game had a high supply of Orsinium, which I purchased and sold to other cities that needed it for a lot of credits. What made the situation better was that I sold the supplies to a city that was at war with the city that had the Orsinium overstock. Yes, you can profit from conflict in this game and if you’re savy enough then you may find that you’ll get an economic victory.
Of course, you could go for the military victory too, which requires that build up a fleet. Leading them into battle, you are still only in control of a single ship, while the AI controls how the rest of your ships act. A military approach can be hard going though due to the high cost involved and the aggressiveness of the opposing cities, which seemed a bit excessive.
Despite not really interacting with a more powerful bordering city, I was suddenly notified that my reputation with them had fallen and that there were border tensions. A few moments later the large city declared war on me and brought along its ally too, and wouldn’t accept a surrender. I could eventually surrender, but by this point the cost was great and pushed my city into debt. It was a crippling war and one that would take a long time to recover from, but that is the nature of Beyond Sol. You may strike lucky and be able to generate a lot of income and build a fleet, but another city may be way ahead of you before you’ve even settled.
While Beyond Sol is quite an addictive game it feels like you see the majority of what is on offer quite early on. There aren’t that many different buildings you can construct, and the number of different situations that crop up is few. You’ll learn of a pirate bounty to cash in on, fly towards to a distress signal where a ship is being hounded by pirates, see a battle appear, a comet appear, some valuable elements form in a nebula, and declarations of war and peace. These will repeat over and over, but you’ll be drawn to most of them because the need for resources and money is great.
Beyond Sol is a good looking game, though the main visual draw is in the backgrounds, where you can see various stars and colourful nebulas provide a snapshot of a universe that is yet to be explored. Closer to home the buildings look quite generic at first, but upgrades add a bit of colour over time. The only thing is that due to the lack of different building designs all cities do look quite similar. Perhaps the most distinctive moment came from destroying a pirate base that just broke apart with the debris drifting off into space.
Beyond Sol is a very good blend of RTS and action game rolled into a package that has a rather unique approach to games taking place in space. You can easily sink a lot of hours into Beyond Sol, but it would be improved by having more variety to the items and situations that crop up. If Praxia adds more content over time, then Beyond Sol could prove to be a truly fantastic RTS, as the game just needs a bit more before reaching its full potential.