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Strategy, survival, and a Nemesis-inspired system fuse in Space Prison

PCGamesN chats with the developers of Space Prison on how the strategy game is channelling survival elements, and shockingly, Shadow of Mordor's nemesis system.

Strategy, survival, and a Nemesis-inspired system fuse in Space Prison

Space Prison looks like a truly inventive strategy game. Developed by the new Polish studio Wooden Alien, it blends turn- and grid-based strategy with social dynamics, delightful aliens, and quite surprisingly, survival elements and the Shadow of Mordor Nemesis System, to create something I feel is truly new. So to mark the recent reveal of Space Prison, PCGamesN talks with Wooden Alien and learns a lot more about the upcoming game.

From The Witcher 3 and Dying Light veterans, we described Space Prison as a bit like XCOM meets Mass Effect when it was revealed, as the grid-based combat hinges on social dynamics and conversations with an eclectic group of aliens between fights – but it looks to be so much more than that.

Now the developers at Wooden Alien have provided us at PCGamesN with an exclusive interview about its debut game, helping you get an even deeper understanding of the upcoming title, how its systems work, and the team’s biggest inspirations ahead of the Steam release.

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Surprisingly, it sounds like Space Prison is taking a lot of inspiration from survival games like the recent Sons of the Forest, by adapting those genre ideas to a sci-fi settin, and having the crafting and preparation phases of these games play a key role in Space Prison’s loop.

“Most survival games place you in a remote location such as an island, ocean, or forest, where you must fight the harsh weather conditions and the local flora and fauna,” Wooden Alien tells PCGamesN.

“We, on the other hand, opted to take a different approach by placing you in the midst of a perilous group of individuals. And they’re both your primary threat and your best chance of surviving – and, maybe someday, escaping this wretched place.”

You’ll also be gathering resources from the alien vermin on Space Prison’s titular space prison, building your base – which takes the form of a prison cell – and crafting contraband to help you thrive between encounters. So, yeah, this sounds very survival-focused.

Strategy, survival, and a Nemesis-inspired system fuse in Space Prison

Space Prison also has a social system between you and other prisoners where you’ll be part of a dangerous game of mental chess with each fellow inmate to either get them onside or avoid confrontation. Wooden Alien tells us this is “inspired by games like Shadow of Mordor with its Nemesis system,” but that the team is doing something different that ties into the prison setting, because being “a lone wolf won’t cut it here.

“We also want players to be able to talk to the convicts they befriend and learn their stories, so we’ve introduced some RPG game mechanics,” Wooden Alien adds. This means you’ll have to win over other inmates with dialogue or help them in their own quests, and if you didn’t think Space Prison was wacky enough, these quests can range from inmates’ desires to leave “their criminal lifestyle to pursue a career as a chef, or stealing the heart of a rival gang member (figuratively or literally).”

Strategy, survival, and a Nemesis-inspired system fuse in Space Prison

So, what about Space Prison’s turn-based grid combat? Wooden Alien tells us that you’ll build a squad from allied convicts, battle drones, and pests from the galactic lockup to take into battle, with a gear-crafting system also playing a large role as well. In the heat of battle, though, it all comes down to where you place your units, as “positioning your party and moving them on the tight arenas is an important part of the combat and can decide on the outcome of a brawl.”

You can also put together an army of rats, if you so choose, with Wooden Alien saying you “domesticate different kinds of rats while exploring the prison, and even construct a pet house for them in your cell,” which is all I needed to hear if I’m honest.

Space Prison looks to be shaping up as one of the most unique upcoming strategy titles on PC, and you can keep up to date with Space Prison via the game’s official Steam page and Discord server, with no release date set just yet.

While you wait for Space Prison, we’ve got a list of the greatest turn-based strategy games on PC right now, with at least one sure to catch your eye and keep you entertained, while our look at 4X games will do the same but on a much bigger scale.