Now available on Steam, Blackbird Interactive’s Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is the much anticipated prequel to Homeworld 1 and 2, exalted RTS titles that redefined what a space strategy game can be.
As you can imagine, that puts Deserts of Kharak in a bit of a tough position.
Not only does it need to meet more than 12 years of expectation, but it’s not in space, immediately putting it at disadvantage by comparison.
In spite of that, Blackbird Interactive has certainly taken a shot, but is it a worthwhile prelude to such a “stellar” series. Pun intended; no regrets!
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
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It’s certainly not a perfect score, but it’s not a bad score either. Perhaps there’s a reason:
Destructoid – 7.5/10
“Unlike many other real-time strategy games, the campaign is the main draw in Homeworld. The lore is rich, yet approachable for newcomers.”
“A big problem is the AI. It’s not so great. There have been times when I could see my enemies clear as day, and they were just sitting there. Forever. I never bothered with them unless the mission forced me to clear all remaining forces. Other times, the AI simply follows its path until the player puts ground units within range.”
“While the multiplayer is mediocre at best, the campaign more than compensates for fans of the series. All the worries of “it can’t be Homeworld if it’s not in space!” should be put to rest, because Deserts of Kharak says otherwise.”
The Sixth Axis – 7/10
“While the art direction is excellent, with two well thought out faction designs and environments within the vast deserts that still feel unique, the overall presentation is lacking. Look closely – and cutscenes will often force you to do so – and you see the low polygon counts, some of the blurry textures, vehicles happily driving through one another, and so on. Yet it can surprise you with moments of sheer scale or beauty, which had me tilting the camera and hastily taking a screenshot, or cutscenes which can occasionally look like gorgeous rotoscoped animation. ”
Softpedia – 8.5/10
“Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is not the sequel that fans of the space strategy title launched in 1999 were expecting, but the game offers its own brand of interesting mechanics and some cool story moments, a solid foundation for the future of the franchise.”
PC World – 4/5
“It’s a decent albeit predictable story, made even more so by the fact that this serves as a prequel to Homeworld. Any lore junkie knows where Deserts of Kharak is headed, so there are few surprises along the way. Still, the world of Kharak makes for a strong setting (at least by RTS standards).”
“Deserts of Kharak achieves its goal: It’s made me tentatively excited for a forthcoming Homeworld 3. By staying largely faithful to the aesthetic of the originals, by recreating the harsh lived-in realism of that universe and the do-or-die exodus and the vast scale of the classics, Deserts of Kharak manages to feel like a proper part of Homeworld canon—even though it’s set on the surface of a planet.”
CG Magazine – 8/10
“I’m not going to lie and say that Deserts of Kharak is the next great RTS. It’s not. What it is, though, is a very important breath of life into a dying genre. Critically, though, it makes no attempts to reinvent the wheel, instead subtly illustrating how to better iterate on established norms.”
“Deserts of Kharak boasts an unprecedented beauty in its setting and world design, and its hand drawn-style cutscenes only add to that. It features a unique setting and a great story that sheds expected tropes. It sent chills up my spine on numerous occasions as it started to explain its connections to the Homeworld story. By all accounts it’s a good game, an excellent narrative prequel to the Homeworld series and a great first offering from Blackbird Interactive.”
As far as the critiques are concerned, Blackbird Interactive will be addressing the bare bone multiplayer with additional multiplayer content in the form of free DLC. We’re also willing to bet that the AI and graphical issues will be improved upon.