Liv Games' latest mobile foray Stellar Wars, a space-themed follow-up to its genre mashups Monster Wars and Legendary Wars, packs a little something for everyone — if your attention span wavers from upgrading your ship or building robots, you can always send your armies into MOBA-like combat or try out an endless runner.
Liv Games president Orian Livnat told Polygon that Stellar Wars is stuffed with multi-genre minigames because the studio's previous two games worked so well. Legendary, Monster and Stellar Wars are part of what the company calls its real-time strategy meets role-playing game Wars series. Offering different things for players to do — mining for resources to upgrade their spaceship, tackling hordes of enemies in a loosely-structured campaign-like mode or gunning down creatures in levels modeled like endless runners — keeps them playing, because when they tire of one kind of gameplay they can move to another without leaving the game, he said.
The overarching plot of Stellar Wars is simple: a group of robots have ventured off into space in search of a new place to call home. They find what they think is the perfect solar system — until they realize it's the battleground for a broiling conflict between robots and aliens. With environments and characters that draw inspiration from space adventures spanning Star Wars to Pixar's Wall-E, it's difficult to not find Stellar Wars charming.
I spent some hands-on time with the game during a recent indie game event hosted by Microsoft. On Stellar Wars' world map, players can select from a number of planets within a solar system, each one offering a different type of gameplay: RPG resource mining and real-time strategy face offs against enemies, among others. I perused these for a moment before settling on boarding my massive spaceship, which I had to defend from invading aliens. These slimy creatures would come at me in waves, and I had to build and dispatch robots quickly in order to defeat them.
"You can play a lot different ways in this game."
One robot was a mechanical canine that defecated bombs; these would explode as my slimy purple enemies drew near. Another robot, the spitting image of R.O.B. of NES fame, would shoot lasers while another that looked like Wall-E would transform into a larger robot and beat aliens to a pulp. Throughout this horde mode, I had a gauge of points that I had to fill up using glowing spheres dropped by the aliens. Once I had accumulated a certain amount, I could use them to build more robots. This forced me to manage my resources and plan carefully, as I couldn't just send hordes of robots against opponents at a whim.
Elements of this horde mode are also present in a MOBA-like level that tasks players will sending robots against aliens in several divided lanes. Each lane requires a robot to defend and as many robots as players can create using their allotted points on offense. When I had my fill of this mode, I zoomed back out to the solar system map and jumped onto a red planet dense with jungles. Here I took part in an endless runner mode, where a female cyborg with Jedi-like powers rode a hover-board through the trees, taking down enemies and collecting glowing spheres to power herself up.
Some may feel this smattering of genres and gameplay modes is inconsistent, a lack of commitment on Liv Games' part. But Livant said the mashup ha been "very successful" for the studio before, and rather than Stellar Wars being a lack of commitment, it's an over-delivery of "stuff to do."
"It's a good blend," Livnat said. "You can play a lot different ways in this game."
Stellar Wars will launch for iOS on Nov. 14. While an Android version is currently not in development, Livnat said he and his team are considering the feasibility of porting their games.