Available Now on Steam: £14.99 – Developed by: Alersteam – Published by: GrabTheGames

The Western – concerned as it often is with taming a new frontier, full of possibilities, danger and excitement – seems to be constantly appealing. Likewise, the Space Western, that shares many of the same tropes, imagery and themes as its earthbound, historically-based forebear, holds a similar allure.

Exoplanet: First Contact is most definitely a Space Western; that much is clear as soon as you launch the game – with a superbly evocative, guitar-led soundtrack that couldn’t be clearer in its intentions.

You’re headed West, you gather from just the soundtrack.. Way out west…

The opening narration on the loading screen, accompanied by an image of an intergalactic saloon – with your character, a human in a Stetson – further reinforces this. It’s all very atmospheric and nicely done.

Crashlanding on a very Wild West-esque planet, your hero starts out having his clothes stolen and sets out to retrieve them. It’s not the most dignified start, but it gives us a decent intro not only to the setting and mechanics, but also a very early look at how choice and different approaches can affect the outcome of tasks. I was very surprised to find that – when I struggled with a more direct approach at getting past the first bad guys in the game – there was a more peaceful alternative available. It does seem as if a lot of thought has gone into the choices and consequences in the game’s story.

Though it’s in early access at the moment, there’s definitely a great experience to be found in Exoplanet: First Contact even at this stage. It’s atmospheric, immersive and very satisfying from a roleplaying point of view, giving players lots of options as to how they want to shape their character and their path through the story.

Though a little rough around the edges from a technical standpoint – and with features being added or refined still, due to the early access nature of the game right now – there’s still a pretty complete experience to be found here; lots of the positive Steam reviews have mentioned a current game length of around ten hours, which isn’t bad at all.

Definitely one to watch; I’m keen to see how Exoplanet: First Contact progresses in its journey towards full release.

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