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Absolute Territory Review

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Fast Facts

Absolute Territory

Developer: Dan I. B. Woods
Publisher: Digitum Software
Website: https://digitumsoftware.com/portfolio/absoluteterritory/
Genre: Arcade, Action
Platform: Steam/PC
Age Rating: N/A
Release Date: 01/09/2020
Price: £11.99

A code was provided for review purposes.

Prepare for Flight

Over the last few years there have been some stellar space shooter style games released on PC such as Elite Dangerous and No Man’s Sky. It’s always tricky for a new developer to slip in and make a start in a genre especially with such stiff competition. But Absolute Territory makes a valiant first step from a new developer. If you like your space shooter games this may be one worth looking into. 

A ship in space
Space, the final frontier.

Mission Brief

The game’s small story can be translated to; there are bad folk called ‘The Order of Linneaus’ out there in the abyss of space and you need to use your awesome spaceship skills to shoot them down and return home for a well deserved medal. At least that’s what I like to think happens after a mission. The story is presented in text boxes before missions, it’s not very exciting and considering the game’s likely low budget it was probably difficult for the developer to include any art or further depth here. Fortunately the gameplay more than makes up for this.

Mission briefings in Absolute Territory
Mission briefings are a bit dull.

Exciting Space Combat

You begin with a tutorial to get to grips with the flight controls. The game presents text boxes to go through the mechanics of flying about, using the radar, locking onto enemies, matching enemy speed and of course shooting them down with a variety of laser weapons and missiles. These messages go by a little too fast so it was hard to keep up with them. I often had to head back into the options menu to give myself a little reminder of how certain mechanics work but you can do this at any time. The game supports keyboard and controllers with the latter being my preferred choice. Once you get to grips with the controls the game is a lot of fun to play. The combat is exciting and high octane. There’s nothing quite like flying in space evading enemy missiles then delivering a flurry of laser fire back at them.

Missions are mostly dogfights. Go from area to area shooting down enemies until you have completed the mission. There are some variations: some missions have you escort vessels and look for crates but for the most part it’s shooty bang time on enemy ships. Good thing the ship combat itself is very entertaining, the game’s strongest asset.

Flying a ship through asteroids
Watch out for asteroids.

Graphics

Graphically the game is kind of what you would expect from a space shooter. The ship designs feel by the numbers and there isn’t much variety in enemy combatants. I hope you like space because you will be spending all your time staring at what seems like the same star system over and over again. It’s not bad but it gets repetitive quite quickly. There is some variation: sometimes you’ll be fighting in asteroid fields and the odd time there will be mines to avoid. It did feel like I was seeing the same enemy spaceships over and over again.

The game performed very well on my PC even at ultra settings; I never encountered any hiccups or slow down, and when you have a game where all sorts of madness is flying around this doesn’t go unnoticed. The sound effects are good from the zappy lasers to the radar warning you of incoming enemy fire. But get used to the same two scores playing over and over. One being an action heavy piece to a chilled space theme when things die down between fights.

Targeting an enemy ship from your ship's cockpit
Target in sight.

Length and Content

The single player has 21 missions with 6 fighters to pilot, each of which you can choose a loadout for before going into a mission. The missions became quite repetitive so I often found myself putting this game down and returning to it later on and off. Overall the single player campaign took around 5 hours to finish. The game also offers a level editor where you can make your own crazy spaceship levels. But if you’re like me and lack that creative flair you can play other more talented people’s custom made levels on the Steam Workshop which surprisingly doesn’t feature lots of Starfox style levels. The game also offers multiple difficulty settings so if you are finding things a little too tricky you can adjust things to a level that suits you.

Third person view of your spaceship in Absolute Territory
The game can be played in the third person.

Work in Progress

Absolute Territory was originally released late in September 2020. A simple game made by what seems like a solo developer that appeared to go under the spaceship radar. But since its release the developer has continued to support the game releasing regular updates to the game with the most recent being a VR mode, something I couldn’t test as I don’t have a VR headset. It feels like it should still be an Early Access title since some of these changes are quite significant and more is still planned. I guess that’s modern gaming for you.  

A dogfight in space.
Dogfights are quite exciting.

The First Step

Absolute Territory is a decent shooter that still feels a bit like a work in progress. The ship combat is fast, adrenaline filled fun. But other than that there’s not a lot to make it stand out from the crowd. This is a good effort from a solo developer and so long as you can look past its limitations then this is well worth supporting. Who knows, maybe one day Absolute Territory will be up there in the stars with the greats.

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