Particle Fleet: Emergence Review

A few weeks ago I waxed ecstatic about Creeper World 3, one of the most clever and addicting games I’ve ever played.

Particle Fleet: Emergence is a similar game set in the same universe. The big difference is instead of being on the ground building a base, you’re in space with a fleet. Even cooler, you can build your own ships.

Here’s how it is.

The most compelling aspect of CW3 was the Creeper itself. A brilliant game mechanic/villain where a flood of relentless purple goo intends to overwhelm your feeble base. It’s challenging and adds a tense element to what otherwise would be a fairly simple castle defense game. It works wonderfully.

Particle Fleet: Emergence has a similar core mechanic. Instead of a flood of good, there’s the Particulate. The red balls of space dandruff flow and bounce around the system (i.e. the game map). On one hand, it seems the same. In practice there are differences. For instance, the types of Particulate vary. Small orbs, linked orbs, box orbs (I guess that’s how you’d describe them), and more all behave differently.

Your tools are different as well. You have a main mothership, and then using power nodes in each system, you can build additional ships. As the levels progress, you discover plans for bigger and better ships, along with new weapons (and with them, new tactics).

If the ships you acquire don’t match your playstyle, or you want something a little different, you can build your own. This is probably the best part of the game. Once you get a handle on what all the weapons do, you can build a ship that best suits how you want to play. You can use them in any mission... that you've already unlocked. Bit of a disappointment there, though I get it. You can't unlock a mission the next mission if you've used a ship you created. I understand Knuckle Cracker wants you to play through the game as they designed it, but it would have been cool to have a point system or something, where X is allotted per level, and if you want 1 ship that fills X or the 10 they have designed for it (X/10), either works. Not a big deal, just would have been neat.

As fun as PF:E is, it doesn’t quite reach the level of CW3. The intensity the Creeper causes just by being there and being relentless is missing in PF:E. Yes, the Particulate is similar, but it doesn’t act the same. It’s not as insidious. It’s like the difference between a flood and leaks in your ceiling. Both are going to destroy your house, but one is WAY scarier and seems more pressing.

There are two, shall we say "less awesome" carryovers CW3, there isn’t quite enough explanation about your various units (like, what do Omnis do? Mine energy I guess?). This could easily be solved by having little pop-up windows when you hover over a unit in your menu.

The other less-than-great aspect is the music. It’s descent, but it gets quite repetitive. Most maps would take me about 30 minutes. At least 30 minutes of music would be nice (or something like that).

Like CW3 there is a story, and it too is interestingly written. There are plenty of call backs to CW3, though you certainly don’t have to play that one first to get the gist of what’s going on.

So if you liked Creeper World 3 then Particle Fleet: Emergence is probably a no brainer. If you were more "meh," then I don’t think this will do anything to change your mind (unless you really like the idea of simple shipbuilding). It’s $15 on Steam, though you can buy a whole bundle with it and several other of the Creeper World series for $25.