So back in 2013, I backed a kickstater for a game made by ex-Relic devs who had worked on Homeworld.
Entitled Hardware: Shipbreakers, the devs at Black Bird Interactive billed it as a spiritual successor to Homeworld.
So I thew down fifty bucks and I completely forgot about it, missed the the announcement that the Homeworld IP had been sold to Gearbox after THQ went defunct, and also missed an email from the devs at Blackbird informing me that they had made a deal with Gearbox to retool Shipbreakers to be part of the Homeworld IP, that my fifty bucks would be refunded, and that I'd get a copy of the game when it was out.
Then earlier this month I saw this:
In Homeworld, you lead the people of Kharak to Hiigara, their home world, the location of which they found carved into a stone within the wreckage of a Starship buried in the Deserts of Kharak, along with the technology that would allow them to make their great journey.
Deserts of Kharak is the journey to find that wreckage.
A lucky accident results in a satellite identifying an object deep within the equatorial desert. As tensions reach boiling point between the Coalition of Tribes of the Northern Polar region who seek the stars, and the religious fanatics of the equatorial desert who view any attempt to leave their atmosphere as a profane insult to the gods, an expedition is launched.
The story fits perfectly into the Homeworld lore; the people of Kharak have entirely forgotten the exile of their ancestors four thousand years prior, as well as the treaty that sent them there, however aspect of it appear in their religion.
Returning to the dark ages in a literal and metaphorical sense as the first cities of the original exiles were swallowed by the desert , the survivors fled north towards the more hospitable polar region, and for the last thousand years various Religious wars have been waged among the Tribes, namely as to why the gods placed them on such an inhospitable planet. Eventually one tribe abandons the North claiming that their decadence would see the wrath of the gods bought down on them, and that Kharak would burn.
Atmosphere wise, the game is unbelievable and utterly fantastic - the music, the look, the feel of the desert is breathtaking. The radio chatter from the units alone as they trek across the desert will make it hard for me to play another RTS game again that doesn't have that level of attention.
But by far, the best part is the Kapisi.
Severing as a more mobile Mothership, able to construct units and launch fighters and bombers to rain down death from the skies, as you trek across the desert and salvage components from the mysterious wrecks in the sand, it can be upgraded into a absolute beast, able to roll into battle and annihilate swarms of enemies with minimal support, although it is limited by the terrain... most of the time.
Unit wise, there isn't much compared to the original Homeworld, but there is no fat among what there is. Each unit has strengths and weaknesses, as well as unique abilities which can make all the difference on harder difficulties.
I haven't had a chance to sink my teeth into the multiplayer yet, from what I hear there isn't much but it's engaging.
All in all, it's a damn good game and a great successor to Homeworld, maybe not worth $50 US given the relatively short campaign but certainly worth it on sale for the atmosphere alone. That said, after finishing the campaign I was left wanting more, and am looking forward to the eventual expansions that will likely deal with some of the fallout from the results of the expedition, as well as encountering something only mentioned in the game manual... the Khaaneph.