Don't let my short play time dissuade you from my review. I've been playing this game for about 2 years on my laptop. I just played a bit to make sure the Steam version works, and it does. Quite flawlessly, really. I've encountered none of the issues anyone else has, so far. I'm on a Win 7 64-bit laptop.
This game has lost none of it's charm, or it's difficulty. It plays simply enough. All you have to do is connect 3-or-more like colored tiles to gain the effect desired. During battle you can only move one tile per turn. The game seamlessly enters weapons and other tools you can use during battle as well. For example, you have a laser. This laser requires 5 red tiles to use. During the battle, you make enough red tile combos to get 5, and then you can use the laser. If you don't want to use it right away, that's fine. Every time you get a combo, these colored tiles are added to the ship's "battle inventory", and are stored for later use. There are tools to alter the gravity of the board, destroy specific tiles to gain their bonuses, affect your (or your enemy's) ship in some way, etc. To damage the enemy ship, you make a combo of the mines that are strewn about the board. Each mine has it's own number blinking on it, which is the amount of damage it causes. A combo of 3 level 5 mines will deal 15 damage, for example. You could get a combo of 7 level 10 mines (very
hard to do), and deal massive damage in just one turn. Be aware that your enemy also uses these mines, and has their own weapons and tools. Don't worry though, as battles aren't timed. You will have all the time you need to study the board, and make a decision.
You can mine asteroids to gain materials to sell to any of the star bases, then use the profits to buy new ships, weapons, etc. Each asteroid has different materials on them, and each has an amount listed that you need to reach. If you reach these, you'll get a massive bonus to the resources you gain. Don't worry if you don't meet the requirement, you'll still get all the resources you mined. So it's always useful, and sometimes necessary, to mine during the game. Mining sequences are not timed, but have a limited amount of combos you can make, depending on the amount of tiles present on the board.
The most difficult, and extremely
frustrating, point in the game... is the gate hacks. In order to get to different star systems, more asteroids to mine, and missions, you need to hack into an "star gate." This is not optional. In order to progress through the main story, this is required. Even if you don't want to explore. Each gate has a different difficulty. Every gate requires a certain amount of color combos to open it, and you have to do these in the shown sequence... and in the amount of time it gives you. The harder the difficulty of the gate, the more combos you have to make, and in less time available. Since the way the board works (once you get a combo, more tiles enter the board), you could easily get a string of combos and win within a few seconds. Or it'll give you a couple combos, and you can easily get confused as to why you aren't affecting the hack. You may think you need a purple tile, but the auto combos did it for you, but you didn't notice it. So you're entering purple combos to no effect. You can easily waste time this way, and tiles for future use. Unless you're a puzzle master, and love this much of a challenge, you are guaranteed to get frustrated.
This is an amazing game. I have never played a puzzle game quite like it. Everything it does, it does exceptionally well. The dialogue is great, the battles and mining are fun, the quests (though tedious at times) are well written and unique. The galaxy map is quite expansive, with plenty of systems to explore. There are multiple factions, each with their own feelings toward you, and your actions for or against them are reflected during the game. Each star base has different bonuses (positive and negative) for different resources, so if you care about getting the max bonus for each individual resource, you're going to be traveling a lot. I don't really worry about it, though. Most systems have a "shop" where you can buy everything you need. There's also a crafting system. Sometimes when you destroy ships, meet quest requirements, etc., you'll receive "plans." With these you can create new weapons and tools that were previously unavailable to buy, or make expensive items with cheap resources. Later on, you will have access to PSI abilities that allow you to "skip" battles (at the cost of PSI points) with certain ship classes. So if you have a massive battleship, you don't have to fight a lowly raider shuttle, if you don't want to.
As stated earlier, this game may or may not work for you. It has worked just fine for me. But I highly recommend this game to everyone who enjoys a good puzzle board, or space ship battles, or both. This is a great