I love to catch unique indies while my limited time is stolen by AAA games. It’s refreshing that a small game happens to turn out more enjoyable than many highly promoted titles.

Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander transpired as such a game. Between many indies and games overall it’s a pleasant surprise that I’ve lost many nights just to play a bit more. This title, as many currently available via Steam, originated from Kickstarter and is surely a product where pledges were utilized properly.


It’s a strategy game, but with a twist. It takes a bit from 4X games, adds a few elements of jRPGs, especially when it comes to fighting, and then compels us to build a base in XCOM’s style. The good info is that it manages to be efficient in all those aspects and additionally surprises us later in the gameplay with some shifts.

Halcyon 6
Fighting is where the game shines

I won’t spoil much from the story background. The only thing we know is that we are in the far future where Humanity met alien races, managed to travel through stars and elicit a few wars including those between themselves. But when the Terran alliance (what an original name…) appears to be stable once again and becomes a ruling faction, unknown enemies appear. They are a new threat of horrific origins – living ships now became your biggest nightmare.

To many places to visit

The big chunk of gameplay takes place in a real time galaxy map, where you are tasked with choosing objectives (attack enemies, sending rescue team etc.). You also use this map to gather resources and without them you should pray for a quick death. It’s simple: you are tasked with leading the group of people, almost last of your kind, who happen to be residents of the titular station, Halcyon 6.

Halcyon 6
Base building

The further the resources/missions are, the bigger risk you take and it’s not common a grand reward awaits. It might happen – and it truly happens – that your modern fleet gets wiped out and you are left with untrained captains and Class I ships. Of course, if you succeed, this is where the fun begins. It’s up to you which tasks you choose and which are left without touching.


As you are the Commander, there are hard decisions on the horizon, especially when you’ll have occasional requests from different races. You’ll quickly notice that it’s impossible to take Halcyon 6 with implicit seriousness. Sometimes the requests are dumb. Sometimes impossible to fulfill. But when the game’s entourage becomes goofy, the gameplay quickly reminds you that war isn’t a joke.

I do have a small spoiler here: there’s an event during the gameplay which changes mechanics of the galaxy map. While in the first part of the campaign we have to gather resources, it becomes somewhat automated with us focused not on getting fuel etc., but protecting transports at its arrival point. There are other twists where the story is combined with a gameplay change – and it works wondrously!

Halcyon 6
Galaxy map

Kill it with fire

There’s a base building element – very much like the one in the modernised XCOM series. It’s much simpler here without complex adjacency bonuses etc. It’s fun to learn how each room works, what benefits we can get and how we can be more efficient in future playthroughs. Halcyon 6 isn’t a roguelike per se, but you’ll want to start a fresh campaign after the first playthrough.

Where the game shines is the battle screen. It’s turn based, with your ships on the left and enemies on the right. It’s indisputably the most entertaining, most enjoyable part of the game. It’s rock–paper–scissors to square with lasers, bombs and tech skills instead. You inflict specific conditions and then use abilities which interact with those effects. The same works for the enemies so both sides have to use smart defenses and attack where it’ll inflict the most damage possible.

Class of battleships

I like the retro-like style of the game with various elements showing Halcyon 6’s nature. The use of color palette is especially good with nice surroundings for battle scenes. The game does a really good job at differentiating itself from the flood of indies both with graphics and gameplay. I loved the process of discovering the further classes of three available groups of ships.

Halcyon 6

The one thing I have to criticize are the sound effects during battles. Yes, they are distinct and easy to remember but it’s no asset when the game does a trephination on my head. It’s ok for the first few minutes but then I had to turn volume down.

I love the fact that Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander is all about discovering. First of all, it is about starting with a scarce tutorial and learning by trial and error. Secondly, it’s about discovering the true nature of this indie game. Its premise is unique and you should give it a try. Especially as after the release it received further content updates and the developers aren’t done with expanding that humorous galaxy.