Halcyon 6 [Review]

…And before I knew it day had turned to night as I was still neck-deep in alien bile, fending fleet-after-fleet of inter-dimensional Zerg-like ships away from the last sanctuary in Federation space. After the cinematic following an intense battle with their monstrous mothership ended I thought the game would be over, instead, whole new areas of the galaxy opened up, diplomacy-mechanics appeared and I realized that the game was just getting started.

Halcyon 6 is a simple strategy game with a JRPG combat system thrown in the mix. You fly around the galaxy gathering resources by completing quests, refurbishing devastated facilities and scrapping your enemies’ ships. You later use these materials to better your fleet and build up your home base in preparation for the final boss. The turn-based combat is pretty rudimentary and improving your space headquarters isn’t that involved, but for a small indie title that doesn’t aspire to unseat Firaxis, Halcyon 6 is an extremely fun game.

It starts with the human-led federation of planets, which had only recently managed to bring all the conflicting races in the galaxy into a fragile alliance, being completely obliterated by a swarm of mysterious aliens that had just popped out of a nowhere from a bunch of portals in space. All that’s left of civilized humanity are a few scattered survivors clinging to desolate outposts and the crew of an ancient space station scientists had been studying before the chaos ensued (think Precursor super-weapons from Halo or Eridian vaults from Borderlands). You’re given a single officer and are tasked with rebuilding the federation, stopping the alien invasion and really just surviving in a hostile galaxy filled with raiding pirates and competing factions.

When it comes to building your base the game admittedly doesn’t have a lot to offer. All you really need are a few reactors to power ship factories so you can pack more punch in space battles, but the game has a clever way of diverting your attention from this. By relentlessly throwing enemies in your face it keeps your officers busy and since a lot of the upgrades in HQ require their presence you only get a precious few windows of relative calm to upgrade. This prevents you from quickly ramping up your power, obtaining every piece of tech and getting bored waiting for the final boss to appear.

The combat itself is also nowhere as complex as in something like FTL. It relies on a JRPG-style turn based 3v3 system which involves building up combo moves to exploit specific buffs and weaknesses. As time goes on this gets pretty tedious, but for a game you’ll probably spend 10 hours on at most it’s more than enough. Every fight happens either on ground or in space, with underlying mechanics unchanged, but with different sets of moves available in each case.

The crux of the matter is that Halcyon 6 is the jack-of-all-trades, tablet-friendly kind of game. If the kick you’re after involves getting invested in complicated game systems, then this title will probably leave you feeling cheated but if you’re the type who likes small casual games that try to provide a broad experience then you’ll probably enjoy this quite a lot.

4 out of 5

+ Simple Gameplay
+ Great Tutorial, Intuitive UI
+ Variety of Things To Do
+ Quirky Pixel Art
- Slightly Repetitive