As of this write up I've played about 6 hours of Kinetic Void, according to Steam.
The main draw to this is obviously going to be ship building and customisation.
There seems to be a fair number of parts to mix and match between and the editor, once you get used to it, is fairly intuitive. There are some bugs with the mirroring tool that desperately need to be worked out – at times the game will not recognise that the mirrored part is positioned in a perfectly valid location, despite registering the original component as being fine to put down. You can pretty much attach whatever you want to whatever you want. Go nuts – it’s not going to stop you. The basic shapes are generally quite blocky, but there’s enough manipulation to go around that you can, with a little innovation, make some interesting ships and they won’t look like a spruced up Minecraft creation.
Combat, despite being a central focus of this game, isn’t particularly mind-blowing. It’s mid-way between EVE and X3. You won’t get straight up X3 style twitch-based dog-fighting, but you won’t be forced to watch your ship auto-pilot in circles which you hit hotkeys 1-9 to fire your missiles. It's a bit clunky but it works and there's some room for skill involved, alongside some tactical considerations to think about.
There's an economy. Who knows how it works, but it does. And you start to realise how essential non-combatants are in a universe. Games like X3, Vegastrike, etc - you see so many random little shuttles and traders and civilian craft trundling around the universe from station to station. For the most part they aren't actually doing anything, but it's nice to have them there – they add a bit of flesh to the skeleton. In Kinetic void, you don't have that. There are only military grade ships. This is tied into, and probably because of, the way the game determines what class a ship is - procedurally based on various factors. But it also means that everything is flatly centred on combat. Feasibly you could populate the universe with your own cargo tugs and passenger shuttles and so on and so forth: but everything seems to be classed as a combat vessel, and so you don't want to run up against a fleet of unarmed cargo tugs that the AI has pulled out of the background because it thinks they're fighters.
You can mine in this game and you can trade, but you are the only person mining in the entire universe, and you are the only actual trader in the universe. That makes it feel very lifeless, despite the fact that there are usually a fair number of ships flying around. The economy runs in the background, and events occur and things change it, but none of it happens in front of you. It doesn't appear to be as fleshed out as it should be. As far as I can tell there are two stations in the entire game: the ship station and the mining station. The mining station appears to be for visual effect only. You can't dock at it and it doesn't do anything. So you mine an steroid for about 5 different resources, trade them for credits at the all-in-one station, and upgrade your ship. There really doesn't appear to be an on-the-surface economy and that’s really disappointing because it’s only logical to conclude that you can’t actually affect the economy through the economy. If you can, you are the only one capable of doing it, when you should be just one more ship in the universe. Where are the other mining vessels drilling into asteroids? Where are the other scavengers going after scrapped vessels? Where are the merchants trying to make a profit from the uncertain wartime market? What are these resources going towards? Why do they exist? What do they build? Who knows.
The universe needs more persistence. Enemies will show up in your sector, usually accompanied by mission markers, and you can run or fight. They'd be more of a threat if they could affect things if they could harass trade lanes, kill merchants, and affect the economy underlying the various wars that sprout up. Or if they just stayed in system after you've docked. Because they instantly de-spawn the minute you dock so the system gets reset to 0, which means that anything that looked like it could be interesting, could potentially produce emergent scenarios, etc.... well that's gone. This really needs to be fixed, because it undermines everything that a space sim should be about.
You don’t feel like you’re immersed in the game – just skimming the surface of the under-lying calculations. Wars happen, sectors are taken, but there’s no apparent war. Someone desperately called me to this frontline battle. I expected to be way in over my head, but I thought it would be worth the view, so I jumped into the conflict. Nothing. Concerned that I had got the wrong system, I checked the map. Yep - active war zone designation. I was in a war zone without a shot being fired. The faction holding the zone lost, and were eradicated, but nobody saw them fighting an enemy.
Planetary flight is fun to have. Not much more to say.
Kinetic Void just doesn't feel like it has the depth that you expect from a space sim. It doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be a universe simulation or a combat simulation, and ends up in this strange space between. I honestly wouldn't say it's at 1.0 status. It feels like space sim lite. The ship building is good fun, the fact that your own ships start to populate the universe around you is brilliant. But the universe itself just doesn't feel very alive and that undermines the whole experience.
The game will run on a potato: with everything turned down to very low it runs on a mid-2010 Macbook pro with 320M chipset at a decent clip and doesn't stutter much.