If you’ve been itching to play a space exploration game with some RPG elements then you might want to stop refreshing that No Man’s Sky trailer and take a look at Starpoint Gemini 2.

Starpoint Gemini 2 is the sequel to the 2010 game that didn’t exactly receive the warmest reception when it released and developer Little Green Man Games seems to be taking the complaints with the first game to heart because Gemini 2 looks like it’ll easily trump the first. It’s currently in alpha as an early access game on Steam so its release is still quite a ways off but it’s definitely got a lot of potential.

The first thing you’ll be hit with upon starting the game is an onslaught of tutorial messages with the tiniest font ever. Before you can even fiddle around with what the various messages discussed you’ll be bombarded with even more messages to read and by the time you’ve finished you’ll likely have forgotten everything. This just isn’t good design and I hope a friendlier tutorial is worked on.

As I already mentioned this is an early access game which means it’s in alpha and that not all EA alphas are the same. Some are far enough into alpha that there aren’t many bugs, others (like Gemini 2) are so alpha they’re riddled with bugs. Within the first few minutes the cursor from the map screen appeared on my screen totally frozen that wouldn’t leave until I restarted the game and a few minutes after that some sort of invisible barrier was stopping me from moving my cursor over to any of the UI buttons. I even got a game breaking bug a few times with the game beginning to stutter if I tried to leave a planet or click the tutorial button. These sort of things are to be expected though so I can’t fault an alpha for being what it is. When you get those bug free moments the game can be quite fun to play though.

There’s currently no campaign to play through at the moment with your only option being the sandbox mode with randomized missions. These missions are just quick small things you can finish easily enough such as fending off enemy ships or repairing a broken satellite. The developers have mentioned that they hope to include some of the campaign in an upcoming update but there’s no ETA on that other than “soon”. Those freelance missions will periodically pop up on your map and you’ll get a heads up when new ones are available. Despite the lack of a campaign you still have the entire map available to you to explore and it’s pretty damn big but tends to feel a tad bit empty since there’s not much to do at the moment in it.

Now unlike its predecessor which had combat take place on a flat plane, Gemini 2 allows you to duke it out on a 3D plane. Combat takes a bit of getting used to since you’ll be moving around on a three-dimensional plane and so will your enemies but after a while you’ll get the hang of things. You can either set your ship to auto-attack nearby enemies so you can focus on maneuvering the ship or you can do both if you feel so inclined to do so. At the moment the only goal in the sandbox mode is to kill dudes to earn that space money so that you can buy a bigger ship to kill bigger dudes with. There’s a good amount of ships to choose from as well with various types like frigates, gunners, and freighters. Each ship type has its own strengths and weaknesses and you can equip a ship with various weapon types as well.

So on to the RPG aspects of the game. Completing missions, scanning anomalies, or fighting off enemy ships will earn you XP which you will then use to level up your ship. As you level up your ship you’ll acquire skill points that can then be used to level up various stats in one of the four categories such as a skill under the railgun category to increase the likelihood of having a shot bypass an enemy’s shields. Each category has five skills you can put points into and you can click on a skill category during combat to activate the benefits from all the skills you’ve invested points in from each specific category. Ranking up your captain will also give you points to invest in perks that’ll give you various passive bonuses. You’ll also be able to gain reputation with the various factions in the game that will determine how they react to you and there are a LOT of factions so expect to be paying attention to that chart when you’re exploring the equally large space map.

Starpoint Gemini 2 is definitely something you should keep your eye on if a space exploration RPG is something that sounds interesting to you. In its current state it’s definitely a functional game despite the multitude of bugs plaguing it, but keep in mind that it’s still in alpha and that its campaign (along with various other features) still aren’t implemented yet. What’s there isn’t much, but it’s definitely a solid game and the developers are quite vocal on the forums which is always good to see. This has a lot of potential to be something great but we’ll just have to wait for its full release to see how it shapes up.

MonsterVine was supplied with a Steam code for Starpoint Gemini 2.