Starlite: Astronaut Rescue bills itself as an educational mini-adventure offering players a chance to “experience the thrill of standing in the boots of a future astronaut on Mars.”
It sounds like a really cool concept. Who doesn’t want to feel like they visited Mars? After all, it is not a fluke that movies like The Martian and NASA’s rover missions have piqued the interest of even people who are not otherwise all that interested in science.
The problem is that Starlite: Astronaut Rescue does not capture what life would be like on Mars any better than a walk through an Arizona desert at night. Actually, the inhospitable environment of an Arizona desert would probably come a lot closer to the real thing than this poorly designed computer simulation.
The game, to the extent that you can even call it that, starts off with an astronaut walking outside of a huge mobile habitat. You’re tasked with grabbing supplies and constructing a tent on the Martian surface. This is when your mission goes awry. A spaceship carrying medical supplies crashes and you need to rescue the astronaut inside.
The single mission plays out with a mini-game of sorts. Players will need to craft a radio set and then solve a simple math formula to triangulate the position of the downed ship. A small calculator will aid you in the calculations. Once you solve the formula you then drive two separate Mars rovers across the rocky surface to scan for the ship.
Even though this is a game that takes place on another planet, the visuals are hardly awe-inspiring. It honestly looks more like a PC game from the early 2000s. The physics are equally embarrassing.
Starlite: Astronaut Rescue feels like an interactive exhibit at a museum. It could serve a decent educational purpose for sixth graders in a classroom setting but any adults looking for an actual sci-fi game should steer clear. This is not a game in any real sense. Even as an educational piece of software it is lacking in depth and fails to capture the essence of Mars.
The best thing that I can say about Starlite: Astronuat Rescue is that it at least has a decent marketing strategy. The description on Steam makes it sound like an actual game, albeit a short one. They also like to remind you that it was developed in collaboration with NASA, which might give some consumers hope for a genuinely cool, authentic simulation.