There is a line from Star Chindy’s Google Play Story listing of which I’m quite fond. It reads:
“Star Chindy may be difficult for casual players.”
It’s not so much that the line is deceiving as that it doesn’t quite convey the same message the difficulty in the game actually does. No, that message would read:
“Star Chindy is difficult for everyone. Deal with it.”
The story of an elite group of humans sent into the far reaches of space to hunt down the alien foe that almost destroyed them, Star Chindy’s pedigree as a roguelike space exploration games means that it will inevitably be compared to the all-time classic FTL.
In many ways, it’s an unfair comparison…for FTL. Star Chindy is more focused on providing an in-depth (for the sake of branding, let’s call it hardcore) take on this concept. That comes across in the usual way of providing more content, such as a more involved story, more ships, more items, and a stunning amount of innovative random occurrences, but it’s the changes to the core gameplay which are most surprising.
When you’re not navigating between destinations in search of more resources to put to use upgrading your ship and squad, as well as some old-fashioned plot progression, you’ll find that most of Star Chindy’s gameplay is combat in two parts. The first part is the more standard ship-to-ship fare seen in similar minded roguelikes, with the primary difference being that the gameplay style is more in line with classic real time strategy games such as Homeworld.
This change gives these encounters so much more scope and intrigue, especially when you take into account the options available to recruit mercenaries and build a fleet. To be fair, the gameplay is a simplified drag-and-touch take on the strategy games of old, but the fact that the developers attempted this approach on the mobile platform and made it work as well as it does is impressive.
The same can be said of the other aspect of the action, the squad combat. It’s a mix of X-Com and the Bioware “pause and plan” style games. Its inclusion has the dual effect of increasing the gameplay variety and really adding to the desire to keep your squad alive, as you get to interact with them beyond controlling their movements on a spaceship.
Which brings us back to the difficulty. The random nature of roguelikes mean that you can theoretically do everything right and still end up losing. Combine that with the greater inherent difficulty of the expanded gameplay, and the frustration level reaches an all-time high when things don’t go your way.
If you enjoy a good challenge this shouldn’t be a detriment, but the one aspect of these games it does detract from is that “one more try” addictiveness. The slightly less arcade-style gameplay makes each attempt more of a devotion, and mean you may not be as willing to start up a new session right away. That quality is still there, but it’s certainly diminished.
I also wish that the game had a more distinct art style. The graphics themselves are quite good, but seemingly aim more for aping PC graphics than they do in contributing to the unique quality of the in-game world. The anime style story segments are a slight exception to this.
These certainly are nitpicks, though, when weighed against the in-depth roguelike experience Star Chindy provides to Android gamers. I’m sooner to recommend it to fans of more traditional strategy that may happen to like roguelikes, but ultimately, when we’re dealing with a game of such quality, if you’re not intimidated by the challenge, then you owe it to yourself to give this game a try.
Challenging in its design and difficulty, Star Chindy is a roguelike for the truly hardcore.