Ensign-1: a space sim that lets you stretch your legs

Only Human Studio's first game doesn't just let you fly around in a spaceship, you can jump out and shoot things on foot too!

They had me at "flying a spaceship".

Whenever I say “I fucking love of space sims” I don’t just mean the Elite-type ones where you haul goods of questionable legality between stars like some cosmic space-trucker. Sometimes you just want to strap yourself into the cockpit of a starfighter and shoot things with lasers until they go boom, without having to worry about your profit margins. Sadly space combat sims have for the most part been abandoned in a remote corner of gaming space and forgotten, along with their more capitalist-oriented brethren. Lucky for us these plucky genres have thrived on the fringes of known gaming space, far away from the tyrannical hegemony of mainstream gaming, and Ensign-1 is one of the many interesting things going on out there.

Ensign-1 from Only Human Studios bills itself as “a single and multiplayer space combat game that lets players leave their ships.” Leave?! Why would I ever want to leave the plush leather interior of my kick-arse space fighter? Oh, “to commandeer turrets and other starships”? Sign me the hell up! Perhaps the only I love more than being an elite space-fighter pilot is taking over another ship single-handed and steering it back to port, murdered crew and all. At least I assume you have to murder them. I’d prefer being able to lock them in the brig to sell into slavery later although that’s probably my old Elite habits talking. When I wasn’t peddling drugs and guns to war-torn planets back in the day I made a nice bit of cash picking up escape pods and flogging their occupants into indentured servitude. Hey, it was either them or me, and a spaceman’s gotta make a living.

Level Editor Demonstration – Desura

This video of the in-game level editor does a pretty good job of demonstrating how the FPS and space combat mechanics interact, as well as what it may be possible to construct in the final game. Ensign-1’s graphics are somewhat basic at the moment but that’s entirely understandable for an indie project in alpha stage, and what it lacks in visual polish it makes up for with stellar tons of ambition. Sure the bird looks a bit rough right now sitting in the shipyard, but imagine the places she could take you. It’s hard to resist the lure of boldly going where no-one has gone before, seeking out new life and new civilisations to kill them and taking their stuff.

A paid alpha version that helps to fund development has just been released on Desura for the low price of £3.49 (around $5.50 USD), so now is a good time to get in on the ground floor if shooting things in space is your beverage of choice. Who knows? I might even see you out there myself one day. Don’t worry too much about pimping-out your escape pod though. I’ll make sure you’re not stuck in it for too long.


About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.