"How does Beyond These Stars differ from other city builders?"
Hello lovely peeps! Many of you have been rightfully asking, “How does Beyond These Stars differ from other city builders?" or from our current fans, “How is Beyond These Stars different to Before We Leave?” and now that our demo has been, well, demo’ed at PAX Aus, I’d love to give you some answers.
The answer is complicated - it’s not something that I can easily summarise. Beyond These Stars is different to Before We Leave, but there’s still many things in the game that Before We Leave players will recognise. We also think it’s pretty unique when compared to other city builders - we’ve kept some important staples of the genre with our own Kiwi twist. But ultimately, you’ll be the judge of that!
If you’re content with playing Beyond These Stars when it launches in Early Access next year and finding out about all the nuances that way, stop reading right now! If you want to know the specifics, then read on…
The Setting and Location
You and the Peeps are nestled on the hexagoned back of a Space Whale, and this creature is moving through the beautiful inky reaches of space itself. You can’t settle on the entirety of the Space Whale, though, so like Before We Leave you’ll have to be careful about using your land wisely. There’s also a breathable atmosphere you’ll need to manage - fortunately, you can grow it. Or even diminish it.
Speaking of growing your land, you will be able to customise your settlements beyond just building placements with terraforming. Build bluffs that tower above other districts of your city, or excavate deep pits for mining. As a side note, one of my favourite things to do in game at the moment is to dig a big hole and then flood it with water. I LOVE the water physics!
Big Beautiful Buildings and Bridges
This one is more for the Before We Leave fans - we’ve created a bigger variation on building size. I can’t say too much about this one until Early Access, but I can tell you that we’ve designed buildings as large as 12 tiles. Whoa. We’ve also significantly improved bridges!
Travel and Deep Space Exploration
You could travel and explore in Before We Leave, but compared to Beyond These Stars, that travel will feel rather local. Rather than sticking to your islands, planets and a solar system, there’s a whole galaxy for you to investigate! You’ll also be able to set up small settlements on planets, and come back to them too.
This paragraph will sound familiar to the Before We Leave folks, but let’s go into it anyway - Beyond These Stars (and all games that are made at Balancing Monkey Games) are non-violent. We all tend to like games at the “chill” end of the spectrum. In Beyond These Stars there’s no enemy that you’re battling for territory, no massive armies advancing from strange quadrants of space to wipe you and your people out, no imperialist urges to conquer and destroy, nothing! We’ve improved elements of our design around non-violent gameplay for Beyond These Stars (cough cough Space Whales eating all your stuff cough) by introducing more narrative tension. This leads me to my field of expertise…
The Narrative and Story
Part of our improvements include a stronger and more deliberate story. We’ve solidified the worldbuilding behind the Before We Leave/Beyond These Stars universe and that has enabled us to create a more fully fleshed out world, and more story driven, non-violent conflict - in simpler terms, you don’t fight anybody but there are some fairly heavy themes and stories to investigate in the game (we’ll elaborate on this in another blog post sometime). The story we’re telling is a unique one, too, so that makes us different from other city builders as well.
With all that said, though, you can avoid the story and play the game in a more Sandbox fashion! We know that story-driven games aren’t for everyone, so we’re designing Beyond These Stars to suit both of these needs.
If you are keen on the story, let me tell you about our two main characters.
While the Peeps are plentiful in their population, and each individual is unique (join our Discord to help us choose their names and shape their personalities) but the Peeps en masse operate as one character. Like in Before We Leave, the Peeps have their own wants and needs - and depending on how happy you keep them, sometimes they’ll work with you or against you. The main departure from Before We Leave, here, is that the Peeps have a stronger communal personality.
Kewa the Space Whale
Kewa is a sentient, intelligent Space Whale with their own thoughts, feelings and agenda (much like the Peeps). They’ll make sure to tell you about it - in their own time, of course. I can’t say too much about their story yet, but you and the Peeps travel with them across the galaxy and can learn about their past, and their future too.
We have had many long conversations about how Kewa should operate, and one thing we all wanted was avoiding treating Kewa like a beast of burden or a simple creature. All eight of us believe very strongly about treating people and animals alike with respect, and even though Kewa is fictional, we gave them that same respect as well.
So there we have it, the main key differences (and some similarities) between Before We Leave and Beyond These Stars, and how it’s different from other city builders too! If you want to stay up-to-date on what we're working on, make sure to follow us on our socials and on discord. You can also wishlist the game here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2295060/Beyond_These_Stars/
Thanks for reading!
Community Manager/Narrative Designer