Video gaming

Game review: Full of Stars – fun to play with interactive fiction, but full of annoying pop-up ads

This free mobile game ticks the boxes for excitement, ideas and gameplay, but is let down by invasive ads and demands on your cash for add-ons

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 April, 2017, 8:03pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 April, 2017, 8:02pm

Full of Stars

AT Games

3.5/5 stars

“My god, it’s full of stars!” is a classic cinematic line, and one often wrongly attributed to 2001: A Space Odyssey (it was, in fact, in its lesser and unnecessary sequel, 2010). Any sci-fi geek worth their salt knows it, which makes its use in the title of this mobile game all the more compelling.

On the surface, Full of Stars (available for Android and iOS devices) resembles your standard spaceship shooter – Asteroids remade for the modern era. The gameplay is both responsive and challenging – you can blast your way through danger, pull out the hyperdrive to escape or just dodge everything by tapping left and right.

If that was all it had, Full of Stars would still get a decent review, but it’s the flipside that gives the game its edge. An interactive fiction element, where narrative choices are to be made at every turn, gives every decision a real sense of consequence. It could be something as simple as choosing your route, or it could be the life-and-death choice of which crew will survive the journey, but it gives the game a depth rarely seen in mobile releases.

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Ship upgrades, crystals, in-game currencies – they all play a role as you progress through its many seemingly simple levels. When you eventually encounter space battles, secret stations and the many possible crew members, everything feels vital and important. It’s a clever, unique concept, but it’s sadly hampered by the game’s incredibly frustrating monetisation system.

Full of Stars is free to play, but you’ll be assaulted by pop-up adverts every time you die. And there’s also the add-ons – HK$30 to remove the lives system, another HK$30 to remove caps on upgrades, and even more money if you truly want to mine the currencies and crystals. And once all that’s paid for, there are still enough ads to make you want to throw your phone across the room.

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By the time you’ve finished the first go-around, you’ll likely have spent up to HK$100 on this apparently “free” game, which is way more than any mobile release should cost.

Full of Stars is a strong space shooter, but it’s also full of ways to make you pay.