Kerbal Space Program, by Squad Games, is a free space simulation game that consists of creating rockets and sending your astronauts, called “Kerbals,” into space. It’s still in development, and at present doesn’t have much in the way of objectives or goals.
The game is simple to explain, but is actually more of a challenge than it would seem. The main focus at this point is to assemble a rocket ship using different parts available from within a building interface. After assembling your ship, you must successfully launch it into space and back with three Kerbals in your crew. The Kerbals are cute and funny little green creatures – there definitely some laughs to be had here, and moreover, the assembly requires some forethought and planning, though there still remain a few too many flaws and when put together, it can only entertain for so long.
Launches can be challenging, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; there are many errors you can run into while launching your ship that can lead to catastrophic events. Some of the problems I ran into were fuel explosions and coupling failures. These errors are able to give a more realistic feel to any space program. It raises the tension before launch, as you try not to kill your little Kerbals. As I found out during my first launch, it is also possible to completely lose control of your ship, sending your ship and crew hurtling helplessly through the dark vacuum of outer space.
Flying did tend to be highly difficult. You are left in control of all three different axes of movement. This, coupled with the fact that there isn’t much of any assistance with ship stabilization can make flying your ship oftentimes frustrating.
The catalog of parts available for use is still quite small, but I’m sure this is something Squad Games is developing. After only a couple of ships, you will find your ships starting to look more and more alike. What’s nice however, is that if you browse the forums for this game, you can find several parts packs that will add a bit more gameplay time. The lack of content available at this point really harms the re-playability of this game, but as the game grows I’m sure this will become less of an issue.
The problem that seems to stand out the most with this game involves its physics engine. If you connect too many parts together, your ship will bend and wiggle in a very odd manner. I highly doubt the game developers will be switching engines in mid-development, but ideally it will be smoothed out and corrected. Otherwise, this may just be a quirk that players of this game will have to live with.
Overall, KSP is able to entertain for a short amount of time but it is slowly growing. For a free game still in the early stages of development, it is able to provide a good amount of enjoyment. The Kerbal characters are loveable and cute, which makes it just that much tougher to swallow when you mess up a launch.
While the game was worth a few laughs, it wasn’t able to provide lots of re-playability as there is such a lack of parts to use while building your ship.
The game is free, entertaining, and still growing so picking up a copy is definitely recommended as it shows some promise.