StarTap – Review

Initial Release: 3 August 2017

If you are looking for an idle game that is different from the typical “level-up-to-kill-bigger-bosses” concept, StarTap might just be the one for you.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go out into space… Alone?

And what would it be like, if you were observing the entire journey from another perspective, not of your own?

Follow Stella’s journey, as you leave Earth behind to explore what lies not simply beyond Earth’s atmosphere… Beyond our solar system… But even beyond our universe, to infinity!

Thus far, many space exploration games focus on the discovery of new planets and new lifeforms. It is not uncommon for these games to contain a plot that causes the player to get dragged into an inter-galactic war of some kind. There is an emphasis in these games to “pimp-my-ride”, decking out your spaceship(s) with laser cannons, railguns and more, in order to participate in epic space combats… Did someone just say…? “RAAAAAMMING SPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED!!!”

StarTap, on the other hand, has a completely different take on space exploration. The emphasis on this idle game is not really on the exploration itself, and the discoveries involved are not about what is new to Stella. Instead, the emphasis of StarTap is on the journey itself. A long journey, one that is not necessarily arduous or full of combat and strife, but one that seeks to answer questions. Questions, which are linked to the discoveries that Stella will make. These discoveries are not necessarily ground-breaking or new to science. They are however, of a reflective nature, as the story reveals more about Stella’s past and the mysterious UFO that hangs around her space shuttle.

startap ufo

After all, there is no better time to do some soul-searching when you are on an endless voyage all by yourself. Besides, the consistently looping background music does seem to lure you into a dreamy state that facilitates that. All while you watch the cute little drones, that you have built, return to your shuttle periodically to deposit resources. There is also a nice detail (which I am an absolute sucker for, regardless of the game), in which Stella has different speech bubbles depending on the milestone she is heading towards. One of my personal favourites is a terrible pun, which goes “What was it you asked me?  “What songs do planets sing? Neptunes!” *Groan*”

Needless to say, the name of the game itself already indicates that StarTap does involve tapping; pretty much like every other idle game out there. Tapping does help in propelling your shuttle at a greater speed, so that you may help Stella reach her milestone destination quicker. A little detail that the developers included was the lack of friction in space. This meant that which every tap you make, the increment in speed to Stella’s space shuttle is permanent! At least until you have to slow down to a stop when you have reached your milestone destination.

However, StarTap does contain more than just mindless tapping to get Stella from point to point. There is some form of strategic depth as you can help Stella choose from one of three different stations in the shuttle she should manually operate. With each station providing a specific boost to a particular function. The workshop enables drones to gather resources more quickly. The engineering bay helps increase effectiveness of each tap you make. Last but not least, the cabin enables Stella to use her Starsoul gem to enter a special slipstream, increasing the shuttle’s speed beyond the laws of physics.

Of course, you can progress in the game by using the resources gathered by your drones. You may choose to upgrade specific parts of your shuttle or build even more drones to collect even more resources. Once again, there is some strategy at play here as you can choose to endow each new drone you build with an affinity to one of the three stations, giving the respective stations a boost in its ability. Upgrading each drone provides unique bonuses at set intervals. One of the more interesting upgrades is the “Feelings chip” upgrade. Where you get to choose between giving your drone “Sympathy” or “Empathy”. “Sympathy” provides a 10% boost to your idle resource collection, perfect for those who play the game in short bursts before putting it aside. While “Empathy” empowers your drone to enable you to tap once every 3 seconds, aiding those who like to tap non-stop for longer periods of time.

startap chip

Last but not least, there are special Advancement upgrades that can be obtained via research. This costs Exotic Matter, which can only be obtained by reaching milestones. Advancements provide special permanent bonuses that are not reset upon Redetermination. Speaking of Redetermination, it is essentially a process whereby you restart Stella’s journey from Earth once again. However, each time you do so, you obtain even more Exotic Matter to upgrade Stella’s space shuttle. These upgrades include boosting her drones’ resource collection ability and improving your tapping efficiency among others.

Despite having discussed a good number of features that this game offers, StarTap does not feel overly complicated. There is no pressure to upgrade Stella’s space shuttle in any particular order. You are free to explore and choose how you would like to progress in the game, without a fear of any “repercussions” of using an “off-build”. Should you find the journey to the next milestone too long, you can simply choose to perform a Redetermination to upgrade Stella’s space shuttle even more, or press on. There is no hard and fast rule to playing this game, which makes it relaxing and enjoyable.

StarTap has been out on iOS and Android for about 3 months now, with several major updates that include quality of life upgrades for phones with wider aspect ratios (cough iPhone X cough). Despite its relatively young age, it does have a community following it on Reddit and it’s own Wiki. To top it all off, StarTap is FREE to play! However, Inzen studio (the developers) is not done yet! There is still more to come! With the season of giving just around the corner, surely Santa can take a trip to space just for Stella? (hint)

If you are looking for an idle game that is different from the typical “level-up-to-kill-bigger-bosses” concept, StarTap might just the one for you. Moreover, if you have a keen interest in astrology, the tiny attention to details the developers have put their heart and soul into may just tickle your fancy. While this game has its own charm, it does take quite a bit of time in order to see it all. Even though some may say that the lack of a social aspect in this game may be crippling, it is after all a lonesome journey out into space (and you are still accompanied by the adorable drones equipped with “Feelings“).

Verdict: 8 out of 10

Written by: Ivan Liew

Monster Hunter enthusiast. Loves the biological sciences and is also an ecology and evolution geek. Above all else, I am as human as any of you are. Or am I?

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