Game On Review :: Kerbal Space Program
November 27th 2013
In the modern era, exclaiming that maths is the concept of a computer game would invoke outrage by people suffering from a severe lack of muscle mass, a category I include myself.
Yet, Kerbal Space Program attempts to address this contempt for the ancient learnings with what is ultimately a digital version of a Sydney new year’s eve.
The premise seems alarmingly simple: you must successfully launch a rocket into space, and then put it in orbit. Look a little deeper however and you’ll find the innocence of a Catholic School Girl.
You’re given a bucket of tools in which to build your intergalactic vessel which range from the body, fuel pods, and even the parachute your little space men will need so they don’t have to play chicken with large rocks hurtling through space.
I apologise in advance for this, but the way I best describe Kerbal is the helicopter scene from Apocalypse Now. As you dash about your day with flight of the Valkyries running through your head, picture an explosion, then another one, then another 12, and finally picture a Sydney fireworks display. That’s what you’ll be facing the first 50 million times you open this game, falsely believing that this time – THIS TIME – you’ll feel like a scientist working on the successful Apollo 11 mission rather than accepting the fate that you’re more suited to, the team of Challenger.
Exaggerations aside, the poetic irony is that to succeed in Kerbal, you’ll need to overcome many a challenge. I spent hours tinkering with my clearly less-than-flawless design, going through the launch process, adding an extra fuel tank only for it to literally blow up in my face again.
So if you’re wondering why anyone would subject him- or herself to a day likened to a fraternity initiation run by Caligula, there is a payoff.
Glancing back to the slightly pixelated rough terrain of Kerbin (the planet my first successful launch was based), you’ll find out what the finish line of a marathon feels like. (Well, maybe, if I’d ever actually run one it might be a more apt simile.) It’s a pure mix of joy and mental fatigue.
Once you have the basic principles down, you’re no longer Newton’s bitch and you can begin to experiment with different varieties of rockets and launches.
Okay, so you’re more likely to get a year 3 “certificate of participation” rather than a job at NASA at the end of each launch, but if the slow-burn, long-term payoffs are more you’re thing, Kerbal Space Program is for you.
Kerbal Space Program is available now on Steam.