RTS on Android is a tricky proposition. Make the game play too involved and it’s difficult to control on a touchscreen. Make it too easy and why bother playing?
What’s emerged is a simplified resource and combat aesthetic which started with games like GalCon, and has evolved into the stunningly pretty Starlink. Space combat games just gravitate towards this streamlined vision of combat and acquisition.
You start off with a home world, and a map of nearby planets spider webs out from your starting point. Each planet you travel too will require ships of yours to colonize the planet, then it becomes a member of your team, producing more ships to control.
Gameplay is smooth and evenly paced. It takes time for your ships to travel, so as the game progresses, you really have to plan ahead for what you commit your ships towards. It’s costly and time consuming to redirect ships back towards a previous planet. The graphics are gorgeous in their simplicity, and information is clearly doled out to the player.
The AI is surprisingly brutal and unforgiving. This is excellent, as Starlink features one of the better multi-player systems I’ve yet encountered on an Android game. If you think the AI is difficult, real humans are far more aggressive. You’ll need the training. The more you play, the more experience you accrue, and then your planets start receiving power ups, more protection from invaders, faster ship production. It’s an addictive cycle which really makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something.
It’s a simple game exceedingly well executed, and it’s been killing the battery on my tablet for a couple of days now.