Available On: PC, Mac
FTL: Faster Than Light’s successful foray into rogue-like space exploration serves as an excellent model for Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! Don’t let the adorable vegetable characters and punny geek culture-referencing dialogue fool you. There’s a surprising amount of depth and tactical satisfaction in this game about potato starship captains.
Holy Potatoes! We’re In Space!? stars a pair of potato sisters on an intergalactic journey to discover the truth about their lost grandfather and escape the clutches of the evil empire. Cassie and Fay are legitimately hilarious together as they constantly squabble with each other and the goofy characters they meet.
You’ll know right away whether the silly humor will work for you or not. Nearly every facet of the story and characters are a pun-filled rip on classic geek culture, from Ghostbusters to Dr. Who and Indiana Jones.
The story is mostly a series of hopping to successively more challenging star systems and exploring them to complete an objective, such as finding some ruins and accidentally reactivating an ancient spaceship. It’s funny and enjoyable, and serves the gameplay well. You also have a ticking clock in the form of The Eclipse hunting you down, a massive starship that may have taken your grandfather prisoner. Like FTL it serves as a limiter to how much you can explore a single area before you’re forced to move on to more challenging planets, often ending in large boss battles.
Also like FTL the gameplay is divided into two segments: crew management and ship-to-ship combat. Managing your crew gives you an isometric view of the inside of your large spaceship. Here you can assign your vegetable characters to handle weapons during combat, craft new weapons, research abilities, or level up their skills. Since Holy Potatoes works in a turn-based format, each of these tasks takes a number of turns and resources to complete. Turns pass whenever you fly to a new system or choose to explore it, so managing and maximizing your crew’s time and efficiency is critical.
The simple but effective interface lets you drag and drop everything you need, from assigning crew to stations to dropping off weapon schematics at the work bench. It feels like it was built for touch screens on mobile devices, and the game’s turn-based flow would make for an excellent mobile port. On PC it’s a little too simplified, and the general size and placement of some aspects were annoying – particularly the tiny crafting requirements for blueprints.
Turn-Based Ship Warfare
The turn-based combat is where the action really shines, and helps separate We’re in Space from the previous Holy Potatoes game which featured crafting and selling items in a weapons shop. Each time you explore a planet you get a series of randomly generated encounters. Sometimes these are events, like traffic jams, mysterious boxes, or helping an old lady with her groceries. These humorous encounters net out random rewards (or penalties), but do repeat a little too frequently.
Occasionally you’ll encounter an enemy spaceship, and the action switches to side-by-side turn-based combat. Combat plays out more like a traditional RPG as you set up attacks and choose the best time to use your captain’s abilities. Your shields and charge rate depend on the gear you’ve upgraded. Each equipped weapon has to be powered by a crew member – many of whom can have useful combat abilities like regenerating health, raising attack, and decreasing damage.
During combat you can target an enemy’s weapons or hull, and they often have shields just as you do. Weapons come in six different flavors, from multi-hitting shrapnel cannons and wave blasters to direct damage lasers and railguns. Better crafting skills (and some luck) grant you more effective weaponry. You have to choose which weapons to fire as you have a limited charge rate to power them each turn. Since weapons are based on whichever ones you’ve found and crafted, there’s a large amount of variety to each loadout you can employ.
Combat remains fast-paced and fun, but also deadly. While the lengthy game thankfully doesn’t employ strict permadeath, you do permanently lose weapons when they’re destroyed and crew members have to be healed from the trauma.
Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! has not been rated by the ESRB. The action is very cartoony and goofy with minimal violence beyond exploding spaceships. Dialogue was kept light-hearted and fun. Younger kids may miss most of the 80s sci-fi references that the story loves to hurl at you.
As a big fan of FTL I found a lot to love in Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! It cribs a little too much from that classic rogue-like spaceship adventure. But the humorous art and writing kept me smiling, and the management decisions and tactical combat kept me engaged for many hours.