Have you ever wondered what the love child of Kerbal Space Program and Faster than Light looked like? Well, look no further!

Nimbatus – The Space Drone Constructor is an upcoming action-sim game brought to us by Swiss developer Stray Fawn Studios. Players build physically simulated space drones out of numerous different parts to solve missions in a huge procedurally generated universe.

I took myself away from the warm embrace of the indie-horror genre when my editor asked me to take a look at this, and I can say that within an hour I was thoroughly hooked.

Let’s Put This Here…and That…Oh, it Blew Up!

Much like anyone who has previously played Kerbal Space Program I dove into this game thinking “yeah I’ll just stick a few bits on and it should work”. Oh, how wrong I was! Nimbatus has a very simple looking build menu when creating your first drone and I thought “well this is great, I’ll be flying about taking over the cosmos with my little metal buddy in no time!” That’s when the little guy began to shake rather violently and… well, I need say no more of Metal Jim; may he rest in many, many pieces.

Once the learning curve is out of the way, there is a great feeling of getting a drone out and about. For such a simple looking menu though (very FTL-esque), the KSP parts also shine through. You have to map your various components to certain keys, just like the stages in Kerbal.  Anyone who has played it and noticed their own error at the last minute will know my horror when I assigned the forward and reverse thrusters to the same key…yeah, not proud of that.

I also thought saws were the way to go at one point which ended in this contraption:

I never said I was intelligent, did I?

However, unlike KSP, Nimbatus didn’t get overwhelming. I found myself quite pleased when I figured out that having 4 shields is unnecessary and that’s where all my power was being sucked into. The weapon and system information are basic, but in this case, less is more. I didn’t find myself with a ton of information overloading me, I saw that x weapon used y amount of power; oh great, let’s take 6 then!

I think the building and testing area of this game is really where it shines. Just like in KSP, it’s that feeling of seeing your contraption work, or the hilarity of it careening off into oblivion that makes it fun.

It’s Like FTL and KSP’s Acid Tripping Rave Child

So far, the demo has a small number of tasks to do such as sumo fights, where your space drones… well, sumo fight! There’s also the search and destroy mission that transforms Nimbatus into a bullet-hell Besieged type of game. I can understand that the demo only made use of a small number of challenges, but the map is huge and full of potential!

The main challenge that players come across in the demo is a search and destroy mission. Send your beloved drone down, find and pummel… simple enough! Yeah, that’s until the screen is crawling with tons of little enemies, and you realise saw blades are not conventional space drone weapons. This game mode was interesting the first few times and the planets that you get to see are pretty. I do hope they add more, though, and vary enemies.

I Believe I Found a Bug!

So, usually bugs in games are bad. However, this one was probably more of an exploit. Take for example my beloved space drone, the Essene:

Now, for a simple looking little guy, he’s not too intimidating. However, see how he’s got 4 shield generators over there- yeah, those little balls are shield generators, that never run out of power. I found myself with infinite battery life so I could spam missiles, bioweapons and remain untouched. All hail the Essene… bringer of doom and exploits!

Now, how else could this be used other than infinite shields, say you? How about using all that battery power to bore right through the planet? Yeah, I think I began having too much fun with this game. Although the battery life was infinite, fuel, however, was not. That’s why the Essene V.2 had much, much more fuel.

The Come Down

Overall, I had a great time with this demo. More so just making drones and seeing what they could do. Honestly, the game really feels like a prettier FTL came along and met KSP at a rave and they had a beautiful, physics loving baby. You can really see where the influences shine through to Stray Fawn Studios. I’d like to see some more blocks, weapons, and more things to put on the drone. There’s plenty at the moment to get your head around, but we’ll always want more!

A more interactive tutorial would be handy too. I found myself opening up the help icon every few seconds for the first time, wondering why my creation wasn’t working. Yes, at times I need my hand held with games.

I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this one as it comes into alpha early next year! I’m also eager to see what mad space drone contraptions others come up with!