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Some early thoughts on Helium Rain, the single-player space simulation

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Few games genuinely make me feel in awe, but even this early on Helium Rain [Steam, Official Site] has made a lasting impression on me.


We don't actually have many good first-person space simulation games, certainly not many that look as visually impressive as Helium Rain did from the trailer. What I'm pleased about is the fantastic style shown in the trailer translates perfectly to the actual gameplay. From the first moment I actually got into the game, I was amazed by how utterly striking the scenery was. Like this gorgeous blue planet in the starting system, it looks incredible.

I was even quite surprised by the tutorial and how easy to understand it was. I rarely like tutorials, but something about this seems right. It was very clear, concise and a breeze to actually get through. Basically, it's everything a tutorial should be. It does still need a couple tweaks, like taking into account you having already done part of it. In my case, I had already researched something and it didn't realize.

The controls feel responsive, with plenty of keybinds to learn but it still remains pretty simple to operate. Standard WASD controls for flight, Q&E to roll and so on. The controls are slick and learning it was a breeze. Actually being any good at flying is another story though of course.

My first station docking was a little confusing, with many bumps made, but a total cinch once you do it the first time. Lining up your ship, rotating and slowly coming into range as you click into place with the station. I was expecting some sort of crummy interface as soon as I docked, but no! You see your ship nicely docked, you can rotate the camera around and appreciate the scenery and it's just breathtaking — take a look:
image

What is also impressive is the tiny loading time. From the moment I hit Play through Steam it took 2-3 seconds to load fully to the menu and loading a saved game was also nearly instant.

I did a little video of the docking system below. After three takes of crashing into stations (mainly as I tried some silly manoeuvrers), my cooling system was damaged so my ship was overheating, power was way down and I think I might have messed up. Thankfully, the game has various research options, one of which being "Auto Docking" which completely saved my butt until I could grab some Fleet Supplies to repair my ship. It's pretty fun watching your ship swing around a station using Auto Docking, but way more fun to do it yourself, see my little video:

You can construct stations, upgrade your ship, get more than one ship, engage in space battles and hopefully much more as development continues.

I will have a more thorough review in time as the game furthers development while in Early Access. For now though, my overall impression of Helium Rain is pretty fantastic. I have high hopes for this one, a solid start.

I had one single crash in my current play time, which isn't bad for an unfinished game.

You can find Helium Rain on Steam.
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Comments
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Spud13y 23 August 2017 at 7:38 pm UTC
I've been wanting to play a game like this for a few years. Hopefully, it'll have a great EA journey.
musojon74 23 August 2017 at 7:39 pm UTC
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Ok it's definitely not bad. Looks quite nice, for me the engine sounds need redoing but it is early access of course. I did a quick trade run as one of the missions required and quite liked it And - it's a space game on Linux
Stranger 23 August 2017 at 7:45 pm UTC
Hey, dev here ! Glad to see we're getting some love.

musojon74Ok it's definitely not bad. Looks quite nice, for me the engine sounds need redoing but it is early access of course. I did a quick trade run as one of the missions required and quite liked it And - it's a space game on Linux

If you can spare the time, could you elaborate a bit on the engine sound ? Sound design in this game is a bit of a riddle because realistically, you would only hear sounds inside the ships - so engines are meant to be muffled and be more vibration than air sounds. Do you know how they could be better done ?
musojon74 23 August 2017 at 8:00 pm UTC
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Hi Stranger. Thanks for getting us a space game on Linux :-)

So the main problem for me is a combination of what sounds like too low bit rate on the main engine sounds ( not sample rate but sounds like MP3 type compression with too low bit rate ) and how it responds ( once you're going at requested speed engines should turn off and be fairly silent ). Please don't take this as I don't love that you're doing this game and am absolutely happy to back it. And when turning Id like to hear the rcs thrusters fire when attitude changes and abruptly stop when it isn't. I'm certainly not the expert in space physics but I feel these tweaks would absolutely make the game for me. I'm even happy to have a crack at the sound design for free if that helps :-). Sorry to you and the rest of gol if I sound a bit conceited but I'm just excited and thanks again for helium rain :-)
Luke_Nukem 23 August 2017 at 8:02 pm UTC
The last time I ever played and enjoyed a space sim was over two decades ago. This looks absolutely awesome! Definitely a game I'll support.

Going to wait for the GOG release though, can't stand Steam these days. GOG do quite well with early access too, Tangledeep is a good example.
Stranger 23 August 2017 at 8:37 pm UTC
GOG support is a common request. I can't promise anything yet, but it's something we're working on and might happen. FWIW, the Steam release is DRM free.
ttyborg 23 August 2017 at 8:42 pm UTC
The source code is available on Github under the "BSD 3-Clause License": https://github.com/arbonagw/HeliumRain
rustybroomhandle 23 August 2017 at 9:18 pm UTC
Reminder that X: Rebirth is not the terrible game it was at launch any more. Something to consider if you need an immediate space fix.
rudzha 23 August 2017 at 9:24 pm UTC
rustybroomhandleReminder that X: Rebirth is not the terrible game it was at launch any more. Something to consider if you need an immediate space fix.
But it is also nowhere near as good as X3 series are.
I am looking forward to X4 though.
Stranger 23 August 2017 at 10:12 pm UTC
ttyborgThe source code is available on Github under the "BSD 3-Clause License": https://github.com/arbonagw/HeliumRain
Yes it is ! Though it's really that, the source code - it doesn't include the assets. I'm not even sure you could rebuild the game and replace the executable directly. We have a long-term goal of releasing a modding SDK that would allow people to build the game, run the editor, create ships etc. For now the source code is really about sharing with other devs and being transparent on the development.
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