REVIEW: ‘Element Space’ is Mass Effect Meets X-COM (Xbox One)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Element Space is a sci-fi tactical roleplaying game published by Blowfish Studios and developed by Sixth Vowel. You take command of Captain Christopher Pietham and his ragtag crew trying to save humanity and the galaxy. The year is 2199 and there is a fragile peace between factions of the Galactic Congress, trying to determine the future of humanity’s space colonies. Trying to further break that peace is an underground terrorist sect known as Tempest.

Jumping into this game, it can be easily described as Mass Effect and the X-COM franchise getting together and having a baby. Controlling Pietham and his crew, you attempt to save the galaxy in turn-based fashion. With various characters, there are no classes, but each one can learn an array of techniques and equip various weapons. Commander Pietham plays like the commando class, being able to pull enemies or allies to him, helping your team in tight situations. He can also weaken enemies or strengthen allies, all while damaging from long range. Zero, a sentient AI in a robotic chassis, plays a support role. It can pull enemies from cover however with limitations and differently than Pietham. Zero can also hack enemies’ stats, making them easier to deal with. Using your characters’ abilities definitely means life and death when playing Element Space.

You can shape each character the way you want by spending points you receive from battle back on your ship. There are four tiers, with each still costing three points. You have the freedom to experiment with each character by refunding points spent and replacing them with the skill that suits your play style.

element space payload

You can further customize your character with weapons and items, however only when launching a mission. Weapons vary from melee, short and long-range, and heavy. You can equip one consumable, it can either be a medkit, a Cleanser, which allows you to remove status effects and heals for a small amount of HP, and a Stimulant that buffs your character. These seem to be the only items in the game and you can acquire additional weapons by completing missions and progressing through the campaign.

Playing Element Space, I enjoyed how the game flowed. There’s the dialogue between characters that move the story along, small adventures on a map, battling enemies on a map or two, and returning to your ship to prepare for your next mission. Environments are pretty interesting to look at but what shines is where you can allow your character to go to use cover or how you can flank enemies. I have yet to see if you can interact with environments aside from moving characters from point A to B. 

Combat can be challenging and can last to about 30 to 45 minutes depending on how well you can strategize. Due to the different skills your characters can use, I never got bored. If you make a mistake, you have the option to load the most recent checkpoint or restart the mission. However, you can only use these options twice. I’ve tried a little science to see if, after two uses, it’s game over but I could not confirm.

Element Space is a pretty solid game but it doesn’t seem like the controls are fit for consoles. There are quite a few flaws that could be frustrating and a turn-off. In most turn-based tactical RPG games where I have to move characters like pieces on a chessboard, camera movement is everything. Not only do I like/need looking at my characters, but I also need to see what I’m doing, where my enemies are, and viewing the stage from a set angle. Element Space delivers this option horribly, not being able to invert camera controls in options and the movement of the camera felt flimsy. In half of my battles, I struggled with camera positioning. Another flaw is not being able to view enemy stats without your cursor being connected to whatever playable character is selected. Most times I had to position the cursor to see additional information rather than how much damage or effect I would inflict on my enemy.

Despite its flaws, Element Space is fun. Although barebones on features, getting straight to the point isn’t a bad thing. Jumping from character interaction, revealing more of the story, and duking it out on awesome handcrafted maps may be monotonous but the memorized pace is very welcomed. If you like Mass Effect and X-COM vibes, Element Space is right up your alley!

Element Space is available on PlayStation 4, Steam, and Xbox One

Element Space
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Despite its flaws, Element Space is fun. Although barebones on features, getting straight to the point isn’t a bad thing. Jumping from character interaction, revealing more of the story, and duking it out on awesome handcrafted maps may be monotonous but the memorized pace is very welcomed. If you like Mass Effect and X-COM vibes, Element Space is right up your alley!