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PAX EAST: Sandship

One of the best parts of any convention is the unexpected discovery of a new game. Tucked in the back of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center during PAX EAST 2020 was a special mobile video game that looks to brings something incredible to mobile platforms worldwide. From Rockbite Games comes a new take on factory management and tower-defense, Sandship. Sandship has gone through a significant amount of time and development over the years from a small but dedicated team. Now, as the game nears completion, I had a chance to take a look at the game and was fortunate enough to see Sandship in action.

Sandship takes place on a barren, alien world, covered in endless gulfs of desert. This planet is known as Noranti One. As if by fate, a large vehicle is unearthed from the desert, known as a Sandship. A large, self-sustaining vehicle, the Sandship is an exploration and manufacturing vehicle that can traverse the desert and manufacture essential minerals used for technological construction. With a reactivated sandship, the mysteries of Noranti One can now be unearthed and the chance of a better tomorrow is now possible.

Sandship is a factory management game, with tower-defense elements and a story to tell. The sandship is essentially a mammoth labyrinth, filled with mysterious puzzles to solve and a past to discover. Aided by your one-eyed cyborg friend, Hank, players traverse the sandship, unlocking its many systems, while also carefully traversing the unknown surface of Noranti One. The goal is to explore the ship, unlock the various puzzles, and manufacturing resources.

I was shown the basic functionalities of Sandship, beginning with the ability to create and observe factories. Conveyor belts and facility placement are essential to creating optimum items and ore. The ship will put up a challenge with placing obstacles and making the puzzles challenging. I was also shown the Quest system. Along the journey, players encounter various characters on the planet, and will challenge the player to manufacture specific items in smaller spaces, or at a certain rate. Using a full re-designed user interface, selected factories, and items, as well as arranging items is effective, quick, and punctual. I couldn’t help but be amazed at the artistic style and UI as it truly looked and felt like Sandship could be a PC or console game. I can easily see Sandship on the Nintendo Switch, PC, and maybe even the PlayStation Vita, should an opportunity arise.

I was also shown one of the newer aspects of Sandship, the tower-defense mechanics, known in the game as the Underwell Pit. In Sandship, the Underwell is a dark factory, named after the game’s version of Hell. In the UNderwell, the Sandship can create the very coveted resource, the Everstone. To create Everstone, a Resonator is constructed in the center of the factory. As the Resonator is an extremely rare and precious resource, it contains quantum and universal properties. When created, it sends a strange energy pulse that attracts small robotic creatures, known as Drifters. The Drifters will do everything to destroy the Resonator and the Everstone. Fortunately, the sandship has its defense system, and in the Underwell Pit, the game transforms into a tower-defense game. If you have played a tower-defense game before, such as Field Runners or Anomaly: Warzone Earth, the mechanics will be familiar to you.   However, this is still a resource and factory management game, therefore, ammunition and electricity are essential to maintaining the tower defense. If in battle, you lose the conveyor belt for ammunition, you will lose the ability to produce bullets. The deeper in the Underwell Pit goes, the more dangerous it becomes, but the rewards are far too rich to dismiss.

Sandship is looking incredibly interstellar, especially for a mobile release. The game is extremely sharp and responsive, as well as intriguing. it has the hallmarks of a great factory management and tower defense game, backed by a very fascinating and promising Scifi world. For a mobile release, Sandship bears a sort of console-like quality, making the game appealing and distinct from the deluge of mobile games not he platform. With a sharp artistic style and engaging gameplay mechanic, Sandship is looking incredible, especially on the go.

Sandship is currently in a soft-launch opening for all Android and iOS users in New Zealand. Despite the global shutdown caused by the CVID-19 pandemic, the team has been safely and successfully continuing work on the game by gathering data and feedback to make the best possible game. The game will be launching worldwide May 7th on all iOS and Android devices, including tablets. Sandship is currently available for pre-registration.

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