Sol Trader Review
Sol Trader Review: the relational space sim
Chris Parsons set out 4 and a half years ago to create a new genre of space sim – one that focuses on the detailed aspect of human interaction. The game is similar in a sense to Endless Sky but focuses a little bit less on the trading aspect and much more on the relational aspect. Sol Trader is a top-down 2D space simulation game that is set in our Solar System. In this futuristic setting, as expected, planets are connected by jump gates. At the beginning of every game, the engine generates 200 years of history and over 1000 people, all with their own back-stories. You then choose your parents, your gender, which parent you take after, what you were bad at in school, and what you were good at. All of these things shape the character you will be.
Trading nickel from the Moon
Sol Trader has a complex economy that changes with supply and demand. The Moon sells nickel ore for $400 but Earth buys it for $1000. This is a hefty profit so I take out a loan of $5000, calling on a friend to get a good deal, I rent a ship with a cargo hold for 4 units and I set off to begin my trading route between the Moon and Earth. On my way back to the moon, I buy water which is a valued commodity on the Moon but not a high profit resource. The trade route is pretty successful, earning me enough money to pay off my loan but I don’t. When you have lots of money already, it’s a steep road to riches. The more money I make, the bigger ship I can hire. Paying off my debt would not help my cause, so I continue to trade, with a bigger ship.
My big trading ship is able to carry 10 units of nickel ore, generating me 5k every trip. It’s slow and cumbersome but the lengthy travel time is worth it because of the profit. Well, at least it was profitable until I defaulted on my ship payment. They took my ship back and it still has my cargo on it. Everyone now has a bad view of my perceived wealth and reliability. Good thing I’m not trying to get a job. Just making my own way as a freelance trader. The solution is to take our more loans (and max out my credit) hire a different ship and start from scratch. When I trade, I trade with a friend to increase their standing at work – every decision you make has an impact on the game and everyone’s relationship with you and with other people.
Now that I’m back on track, my freelance trading seems to be going pretty well. Sometime soon, it’ll be time to buy a ship of my own and customise it. While I am flying back to port, a tiny pirate ship appears and tells me that I should prepare to die. Large ships are cumbersome and cannot manoeuvre well, so my best option was just to flee. He only did 15% damage to my ship so there’s not much worry there. I buy myself a new ship so it’s time to upgrade. To upgrade your ship, you need to talk to someone who has the option “trade ship components”. I want to focus on my ship’s speed and manoeuvrability. This is an important aspect for building an efficient trading ship.
Always think about the consequences of your action
Sol Trader has a great depth to it which means that every action you take has an effect on how people perceive you. The friends you make, the things you do – everything makes a difference. Every choice gets you thinking, what will people say if I do this. Do you want to be known as an evil, thieving pirate lord, or a good loyal ambassador for your nation? Everything is up to you. You can customise your ship, choose your own trade routes, and make your own way through life. Your advancement through the game relies both on trade and building the right relationships. There are a large selection of goods that you can buy and sell, from water to uncut diamonds. All those around you need to also think about the consequences of their actions. If you discover a dirty secret about someone you know, you can blackmail them. If someone harms your friends, you can avenge them. The scope of Sol Trader is almost unlimited.
Sol Trader is great fun and is a must-play. The game has had a few “teething issues” and has had a few bugs but Chris is constantly upgrading the engine and fixing all potential problems. The music and artwork add a futuristic, dystopian feel to traversing space. The ability to make complex relationships, to discover information about the lives of your friends, and to climb to the peaks of society make Sol Trader a fun and engaging game. The only downside is the grind at the beginning of the game with bad quality ships that travel extremely slowly. But where would be the fun if Sol Trader was just an easy game to complete? The biggest downfall of this game so far is the bugs but they are expected when you have a one man team. Any bugs you get, just take a screenshot of the error message and post them on the forum. Sol Trader is available now on Steam for £15.