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  • Writer's pictureJunoh Seo

Review: Jumplight Odyssey

Developer: League of Geeks

Publisher: League of Geeks

Available on: PC (Steam, Early Access), Console release date TBD

Jumplight Odyssey is a roguelite colony simulation and management game with retro, 80s-anime aesthetics that hearken back to classical animation titles such as Mobile Suit Gundam and Akira. The game is currently in Early Access on PC (Steam), and some mechanics are still in development as of yet.

Currently, the game offers one scenario to play, though it’s likely that more will be added in the future. In the Last Regent scenario, you take the role of Princess Euphora, the princess of the planet Pleiades, which is promptly destroyed in the game's opening animation after a crushing defeat at the hands of the militaristic, warring Zutopans. Your ship is the sole surviving vessel from the Battle for Pleiades, and as the princess and captain of the vessel, your duty is to lead the few survivors of your civilization to the promised “Forever Star.”

But don’t let the nostalgic visual style deceive you - at its core, Jumplight Odyssey is a challenging survival game where it is quite easy to fall into a death spiral of dwindling resources and dying crewmates. Even in the tutorial, you are immediately thrown into the fray with a ship on full red alert, which is filled with dozens of wounded crewmates, widespread damage, and several decks that are on fire. Without careful planning and resource management, your journey will fail and fail many times.

The game's overall premise will look familiar to those of you who have played FTL: Faster Than Light. You lead a lone spaceship across the stars while fleeing from a wave of hostile fleet that takes over the map and acts as an ever-present threat, always making you weigh your options in a race against the clock. However, the main objective of the game is quite different. Unlike FTL, you are not leading a covert military operation but rather an exodus. The war is already lost, and your objective is to simply survive while saving as many people along the way as possible. Fittingly, combat is disincentivized as the only combat encounter in the game right now is against the pursuing Zutopan armada, and it gives zero rewards or loot regardless of how long you hold them off. Instead, you are encouraged to be quick on your feet and stay one step ahead of the Zutopans.

The building mechanics are similar to that of Two Point Hospital with an isometric grid-based building system, and you can remodel and upgrade your ship with different modules.

The entire ship is divided into several decks, and while you are unable to expand the ship further than what you start with, you are given a great amount of freedom with remodeling the existing rooms. In fact, the lower deck of the ship is intended to be a blank canvas with several massive empty rooms you can freely build with.

There is also a hope gauge mechanic similar to Frostpunk, and it plays a major role in the game. You lose hope when a crewmate dies or falls into despair from low morale, and a despaired crewmate will not do any work and only recover when their morale gauge is filled to the maximum. You can gain hope by saving people through rescue missions. They are available in virtually every location you visit, and it is fairly easy to increase your hope gauge - however, this also means that there will be more mouths to feed, and rescuing too many people before having the means to support them could be fatal.

Speaking of rescue missions, another important thing to note is that not everyone you save will be ‘useful.’ While some of the rescued can be put to work as crewmates, the rest are civilians who cannot work or perform any tasks. Despite this, they consume the same amount of resources. While this adds an extra challenge, this was probably one of my favorite elements of the game - will you risk burning through your food, water, and medicine reserves to save even the more vulnerable people, or play it safe and conserve resources while leaving behind those in need of aid?

Jumplight Odyssey shows a lot of promise, but I feel like the game has room for improvement when it comes to quality-of-life elements. For players familiar with other management and colony simulation games, a big shortcoming of the game's current state is that even though it requires a lot of micromanagement for success, your options are quite limited when it comes to managing the ship. For instance, you cannot actually directly control a crew member and make them complete a certain task. You can issue priority orders, but sometimes an urgent construction or production task may be left unattended for extended periods since everyone is occupied, and you cannot order a crewmate to disregard their current tasks and do something else first.

You also don’t get any detailed information about how much resource is being produced and consumed on the ship right now. The only information provided is how much a certain resource increased or decreased in the past hour, so it’s hard to track where I spent resources or which modules are eating up the most power and water. Similarly, while the game has different types of storage for different resources, you can’t allocate which resources should go to which specific shelves or designate shelves that should be filled first. For instance, both medical supplies and meals use refrigerators for storage, but since I can’t assign specific refrigerators for resources, I usually ended up having my medicine stockpiled in the cafeteria and the meals next to the infirmary. This is very inconvenient compared to games such as Rimworld, which gives you incredible control over storage options to better optimize your colony.

Overall, Jumplight Odyssey is a promising colony simulation and management game, which emulates what it’s like to be a leader forced to make difficult decisions in difficult times. The retro aesthetics of the game can easily invoke a sense of nostalgia for older players, while the management elements are both challenging and engaging. I look forward to the future development of the game.

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