Astronaut: The Best Review | Taking Incompetence To The Stars

Astronaut: The Best Review - Taking Incompetence To The Stars

Space may be the final frontier, but it’s all for naught if we don’t have the right technology and people to get us there. Universal Happymaker is focusing on the latter with their game Astronaut: The Best. It’s a 2D narrative game that’s set in a 3D world, giving it a kind of storybook feel. However, the situation appears to be dire, as you need to manage a group of unqualified astronauts as you make choices to prepare them for their eventual journey to space. Each decision determines just how far you’ll get to actually reaching the launch and whether or not your hearty crew will be successful.

What is Astronaut: The Best?

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Training to go to space is arguably one of the toughest things a person can go through, which is why it makes for a compelling story. There are certainly elements of this in Astronaut: The Best. You take on the role of the newly hired director for the fictional country of Flaustria’s Space Program. After a failed launch, it’s up to you to restore faith in the program while also appeasing the country’s leaders known as the High Priests. From your office, you’ll be able to monitor all the astronauts, train them, deal with events, and try to earn favor from the visiting High Priests. Only you can determine how your astronauts will perform come launch day.

The Best of Astronaut: The Best

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There are so many games about space from the overly real to the comical, but the challenge is to be entertaining. Astronaut: The Best pulls this off while being short and sweet. The overall tone of the game is quite humorous while incorporating elements of parody. The comedy is presented in both a quickfire way that’s over-the-top and easy to digest in an instant.

Some jokes are subtle, while the rest are in your face. Every character looks like a caricature, which makes each line they deliver feel exaggerated and ridiculous. What makes things even funnier is that this whole game takes place in an authoritarian dystopian world run by colorful incompetent leaders who are way too into what they represent.

As a narrative game, things move quickly and smoothly. That’s not to say that you can’t linger in certain scenes if that’s what you want to do, but it really makes you want to speed read just so that you can experience more of the chaos.

The randomly generated astronauts are of course the stars, with a mess of descriptive and unique stats that pop up out of nowhere with their own flavor text and stat effects. Even though you’re just interacting among different screens, the way you have to move and navigate makes you feel like a real bureaucrat who has to burn through multiple processes, aim for the best results, and keep an eye on every person who can ruin your perfectly oiled machine.

This is where the roguelite elements really shine. Roguelites are meant to be played in a way that allows for multiple runs in one sitting and this game is designed just for that. You can cover a whole space program from beginning to end in less than an hour. Whether you fail horrifically or perform a mediocre job, it doesn’t take long to amass experience, which can be spent on bonuses for future runs and quickly get back to where everything went wrong.

The Worst of Astronaut: The Best

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As funny as a game is, sometimes this focus can affect the gameplay in less than stellar ways. Astronaut: The Best has some troubles here and there, but it does its amusing and enjoyable thing. The main issue is that much of the experience appears to be luck-based while skill sort of takes a backseat. To put this into context, you can go through an entire program making all the best decisions, having lots of money, and favor with most of the leaders, only to fail spectacularly at the end of the program. Basically, you can only do so much yourself — it all comes down to fate in the end.

That highlights another issue in that you essentially start with a losing situation. There’s very little chance of winning the first run, when every roguelite should give you the opportunity to do so. However, this comes down to your skill, but at the end of each run, you need to rely on good luck. It’s good that runs can be pretty short, but it’s kind of annoying that you essentially that you have to power through multiple losing situations just for the chance at a win. And considering how long it takes to upgrade just one element and how expensive those upgrades are, you’ll need to do a lot of running around.

Aiming To Be The Best

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Astronaut: The Best is a quirky and comical narrative roguelite about leading a space program filled with troublesome astronauts on a successful space mission. It’s humorous and entertaining, with a snappy presentation and stylized graphics alongside quick mechanics and roguelite execution. It is too heavily reliant on luck and an uphill battle just to improve your chances by buying small expensive upgrades. Though considering how much you can get done in such little time, it won’t be long until you find a worthy astronaut… perhaps the best.

Astronaut: The Best Trailer

Astronaut: The Best was played on Steam with a download code provided by the publisher. It is available for purchase on PC.