In the world of Vostok Inc., the universe is your oyster. Moolah is the name of the game and nothing but space and opportunity stands in your way. Like every entrepreneurial endeavor, things start out small. With no money and just a space ship, you begin by blasting asteroids, killing aliens and collecting the moolah they leave behind. As you land on your first planet you can purchase mines, farms, power stations and up to 20 different types of buildings that increase your moolah you earn every second. As time passes you earn more and more moolah that can be used for more buildings, expansion to other planets and upgrades of all types. If you want to take a break you can safely dock on your motherbase or any planet and just watch your moolah total increase. What seems like a simple concept turned out to be one of the most addicting and enjoyable experiences that I did not anticipate.
While that introduction explained the basics of playing Vostok Inc, there is much more to it that just building and farming money. You begin in a familiar place to all of us, our own solar system. There’s Earth, Venus, Mars and all the planets we know and love revolving around a bright yellow sun. Our ship has a health meter along with an energy meter which acts as both a shield and a power source for boosting. These attributes can be upgraded, sometimes many times, in addition to weapons, ship functions, and the map. There is absolutely no shortage of things to spend your moolah on, and while some are more useful than others, you’re going to want to buy everything. After exploring all the planets and banking the required amount of moolah, I faced a solar system boss, defeating it was the key to unlocking the next system. This pattern continues across 6 solar systems and over 40 planets; but progressing to the next area can take more time than you’d think.When it comes to buildings, we are talking about hundreds or thousands of them on a single planet. One pharma lab might be cheap, but each additional one increases in price until it can be very expensive to just add one more. Each bulding has 5 upgrades that either increase its productivity or that of another building. All these multipliers add up from every building on every planet to one big total of spending moolah on the top right of the screen. When you aren’t upgrading your buildings, you can explore any of the galaxies for space races, managers to rescue and about 500 objectives to complete. There are also mini-games that share a common theme of keychain games (think Tamagotchi) and my least favorite part of Vostok Inc., screen lock battles.
Races are simple, you must fly through gates before time runs out…win the race and earn moolah. I only raced enough to unlock upgrades (some upgrades have unlock stipulations such as “win 20 races and explore 20 planets”). Racing would get annoying whenever an asteroid was in my path or enemy wouldn’t leave me alone. Screen lock battles are when scout enemies find you, if you don’t destroy them in a few seconds the screen will lock and you must beat many enemies before you can move on. This is where I tended to die most often; usually I got stuck in a battle when I was desperately boosting to save a manger or heal myself at the space station. When you lose all your shield and health, your spaceship will explode, ejecting all your managers and leaving you in a very weak executive pod. You can shoot in the pod but this is your last chance to return to motherbase and gain a new ship. If you are killed in the executive pod you respawn but lose half of your banked moolah. Playing the mini-games was a brief change of pace, but I only really cared about earning their respective achievements.
Managers, consultants, investors and executives are the parts of Vostok Inc. that can be the most intriguing. A yellow blip on your minimap will randomly pop up, indicating a stranded manager. Rescue him or her before they run out of oxygen and you will be rewarded. A middle manager typically gives a 3% increase in production for as long as you stay alive. These can be stacked well above 100% bonus, sadly when you meet your demise they are all ejected into space for good. Investors offer greater rewards such as doubling your current moolah balance and consultants provide huge production bonuses for a short period of time. If you are lucky enough to rescue an executive and bring them back to the space ship, you will be able to play their respective minigame. Collecting items from asteroids (such as booze, luxuries or food) can keep your executives happy and more productive. Using these items is similar to feeding a virtual Tamagotchi pet, so you must keep on top of their needs as they slowly decline. No matter what I was doing, unless my life was at risk I always sought out stranded managers. I just wish that dead ones would immediately be removed from my radar.
The weapons in Vostok Inc. also took me by surprise. After playing for a few hours with a regular (pew pew) blaster, I learned that I could upgrade weapons and mix them to create stronger and sometimes crazy new ones. Upgrading them not only unlocks new combinations, it increases their strength. Things like a laser unicorn attack squad, love gun or rubberized flak cannon were a nice change of pace. You can assign up to four different weapons to the d-pad and swap on the fly; there are 19 different weapons in all but I tended to stick with a just a few.Graphically, Vostok Inc. might not impress many in screenshots. Everything is 2D with a colorful style that gets the job done. I enjoyed the different music in each solar system, but like any song you listen to for multiple hours, it tends to grow old. I love the differences in each solar system, one is super happy with rainbows and cute enemies. Another has more of an ocean theme with foes that resemble crabs and crustaceans. Travelling between solar systems is quick and easy thanks to a wormhole in every area. There is no loading times and the game’s file size is less than half a gig, very nice for those with limited storage.
Vostok Inc. is an incredible blend of twin-stick shooter and oddly enough…clicker style game. When I first started I was driven to explore every planet and defeat every boss. After putting in a couple dozen hours, I am still obsessed with unlocking all buildings, upgrades, weapons and eventually the entire objective list. When I tire of shooting asteroids and bad guys, I dock on a planet or motherbase and just farm moolah. I’ve been playing and farming the entire time I’ve been writing this review! My recent purchase of a wired controller (that won’t power itself off) means I can farm moolah all night while I sleep! I can honestly see myself playing Vostok Inc. every single day until I have the full 1000 gamerscore and all objectives unlocked. While it might be a bit too repetitive for some, anyone with interest in twin stick shooters or city builders need to check out Vostok Inc. Highly recommended!
Vostok Inc. is available on Xbox One, PS4, PS Vita & Steam. A copy of the game was provided by Badland Games for the purpose of this review.