Galactic Inheritors Review
I don't like having to pontificate on things like this. I get that it's my job, but it's kind of annoying when I can see the game for what it is, see where it could possibly be, and then be forced to lament that it wound up like this.
Galactic Inheritors is a game that seems like its ambitions exceeded its grasp. It might just be the way the game presents itself, or it may be that it seems like a very intelligent 4X game with some definite perks to it. That those perks are weighted down with a variety of bugs, strange design choices, and just in general failure to seem like an interesting game is more of a tragedy than a delight.
Galactic Inheritors is more or less a standard low-budget empire builder with a space setting. You have a number of different races at your disposal, including Humans, cat people, frog people, and the like. You choose a race, galaxy size, distribution, and difficulty for your game, and then you're unleashed into the galaxy to conquer, plunder, and colonize to your heart's content. The game starts you off on a large galaxy map, and for the first few turns, the issues with the game are far from obvious.
For the most part, there are some interesting and innovative touches. You can't immediately start building warships, as you don't have the tech at the start of the game. Instead, you have to buy the warships from various corporations, and then pay a certain amount of upkeep each turn to keep them running. There's also an entire "media" feature to play around with, where you manage your image both internally and towards other empires. Skilfully manipulating your PR gives you bonuses with diplomacy, causes other empires to leave you alone out of fear, or grants other perks.
I also like the way the advantages and disadvantages are worked into the setting of the game. Each race has a several-paragraph write-up on the character selection screen, and the bonuses and penalties they have are worked into their setting information. Most 4X games I've seen tend to boil these down to the most basic of traits rather than give the complex history, and it's good to see the complex history get its place somewhere other than the flavor text.
But the game commits a rather large sin. It's boring. It doesn't feel like anything's moving at all. To compare, even in the slowest-paced 4X games, ending a turn feels like something is happening for you. Even if it's just research, even if it's waiting around for your ships, there's a sense of pacing. For all Galactic Inheritors does, you might as well be playing in a vacuum. This is immediately cut with sudden bursts of tension as the various other races in the galaxy make themselves known, usually by suddenly colonizing everywhere near you.
Despite this, the game slows down again moments after making contact. You just sit there, watching your opponents explore the universe and colonize stuff. There's nothing particularly satisfying, and eventually I got bored and turned it off. It felt like I was just waiting for things to happen, like I had absolutely no stake in the game. For a game to have no stakes is pretty much a death knell as far as I'm concerned.
I've spent hours building colonies on gigantic sentient planets in Alpha Centauri. I've spent days micromanaging a burgeoning empire in Civilization. Hell, I'm even a decent hand at Master of Orion, as far as that goes. But I guess I'll have to leave someone else to inherit this galaxy.
Final score: 2/5
Full disclosure: The reviewer received a copy of this game via Steam