Stars in Shadow is a turn-based 4X strategy game and a vivid tribute to the genre classics. Compete with alien factions to explore and colonize nearby starsystems, build fleets to defend against rivals, negotiate or conquer them. Win by unifying the galaxy, through diplomacy or force.
All Reviews:
Mostly Positive (347) - 76% of the 347 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date:
Jan 19, 2017

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Recent updates View all (39)

February 14

Development Update: 14 February 2019

Come with me if you want to live.

Last month's patch was a big one, and so predictably there were bugs to hunt. Today's patch contains mostly bug fixes, and we also made some balance adjustments to the AI on "Easy" difficulty. As always, your feedback and suggestions are important to us, so keep them coming!

Patch Notes for 14 February 2019 (ver. 37980)
Gameplay Changes and Additions
  • AI-controlled factions now have an additional handicap when playing on the "Easy" difficulty level (ships cost additional Labor).
  • The technology 'Cybernetic Organisms' is now available to all factions. This allows Harmonized population units to be De-Harmonized, and increases Battle Mech strength by +2.
  • Unescorted transports carrying civilian colonists will now surrender to the enemy if attacked.
  • Eliminating an empire by capturing its last outpost should no longer cause an error.
  • Fix for a coin rounding issue in the resource request event.
  • Fix for a bug triggered by battles that included fleeing population transports.
  • Destroying a colony immediately after creating it should no longer cause an error.
  • Fixes for several bugs involving invalid starvation warnings.
  • Fixes for several "likely bug in the attack confirmation logic" warnings.
  • Fixes for logic errors in the "please do not colonize" requests.
  • Reverse engineering captured ships should no longer cause errors in the technology queue.
  • Updated the logic used to determine resource request quantities to better take into account what the player can practically afford.
  • Destroying a ship while it's being refitted should no longer cause an error.
  • Transports arriving at an outpost planet should no longer cause an error.
  • Colonist morale modifiers should now persist when populations are transported between worlds.
  • Agreeing to embargo an empire you don't have a trade charter with should no longer cause an error.
(Click here to view the complete development changelogs, and here to view the development roadmap post.)

The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope. Because if a machine can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.
14 comments Read more

January 17

Development Update: 17 January 2019

Greetings, interstellar tyrants!

Today's patch has been a long time in the making: it includes extensive changes to the AI and diplomacy system, difficulty level balance, and adds an oft-requested Victory screen, complete with a stat graphs display. As always, your feedback and suggestions are important to us, so keep them coming!

Victory Screen and Graphs
Upon achieving one of the victory conditions (Conquest, Diplomatic or Allied Victory), a Victory pane will become visible in the Diplomacy menu. This includes options to view a Graphs screen (with selectable displays to compare Population, Military Strength, Scientific Progress, Metal Production, Available Labor, Total Income, and Science Production), exit to main menu, or to continue playing. If the player chooses to continue playing, no further victory conditions will trigger.

The Graphs screen can also be accessed during a game (with display subject to faction visibility) by selecting the Intelligence Briefing option in the Diplomacy screen (or by hitting Ctrl-G). (Note that in games saved prior to the patch, graph data will be missing for pre-patch turns.)

Diplomacy and AI Changes
The artificial intelligence (AI) for the computer-controlled opponent factions has been substantially reworked. We have added a variety of new behaviors and diplomatic events. In particular, AI factions have more context-sensitive behavior regarding its friends and enemies; it can now more capably offer or request help from an ally, and it is more likely to take offense when one is friendly to its enemies. Since the AI opponents now play more effectively, we have also extensively tweaked the balance of the various difficulty levels, removing some bonuses that the AI received on "Normal" difficulty setting, and giving the player some extra bonuses on the "Easy" setting. Even so, players may find difficulty levels above "Easy" noticeably harder than prior to the patch.

Patch Notes for 17 January 2019 (ver. 37958)
Gameplay Changes and Additions
  • Changed balance and AI advantages on Normal, Hard, and Brutal settings. Players may find games on settings above "Easy" to be noticeably harder.
  • The AI no longer receives resource bonuses on 'Normal' difficulty mode.
  • The player now receives resource bonuses on 'Easy' modes.
  • Torpedoes can now be placed in heavy hardpoints.
  • Orthin and Gremak can now research Heavy Missiles.
  • Strike fighters will now attack starships using beam weapons if their beam weapons are more powerful than their missiles.
  • Significantly reduced the range of anti-missiles.
  • Reduced marauder ship spawn rates.
  • Reduced the strength of Marauder fleets.
  • It is now possible to deploy outposts around planets you already control.
  • Added several new diplomatic issues.
  • Added the 'Expansion Request' event.
  • Added the 'Trade War' event.
  • Added the 'International Incident' event.
  • Added the 'Wreckage Analyzed' event.
  • Added the 'Technology Captured' event.
  • Reduced the research cost of 'Defense Grid'.
  • Increased many agreement influence costs.
  • Increased upkeep costs for mid/late game ship hulls.
  • Phidi no longer start without the 'Military Doctrine' technology.
  • Changed the hiring cost formula of mercenaries; in most cases this is an increase.
  • Decreased the spawn rates of mercenaries.
  • Increased the cost of the 'Artificial Organisms' tech.
  • Increased mid/late game strategic fleet speeds.
  • Upgrading tanks no longer increases their build or upkeep costs.
  • Increased the number of stars in 'small', 'normal', and 'huge' maps.
  • Citizens from allied factions will now sometimes offer to join your empire.
  • Allying with an alien faction now removes the "Alien Rulers" morale effect from colonists of their race in your empire.
  • Increased the research cost of 'Battle Mechs'.
  • Galactic council votes can now influence reputation.
  • 'Graviton Physics' and 'Advanced Field Theory' now grant increased tactical speed.
  • Increased mid/late game science boosts from experimenting on slaves.
  • Reduced the number of technologies offered by the Herald.
  • Updated mechanics for ancient data archives.
  • Tinkers AIs should now make use of Asteroid Outposts.
  • Changes to the random number generator used in planetary bombardment / invasions to improve the accuracy of the predicted outcome display.
  • 'Artificial Sentience' now provides +15 science on all worlds instead of +1 improvement slot.
  • 'Adaptive Energy Grid' now provides +10 labor on all worlds instead of +1 improvement slot.
  • 'Social Engineering' now unlocks a varying number of improvement slots depending on planet size.
AI Changes and Additions
  • Various tweaks to the Strategic AI. (Thanks to Harpy Eagle for his contributions.)
  • The AI's ship building strategies should now reflect its research strategies, and vice versa.
  • A variety of fixes and improvements in the AI's economic logic.
  • A variety of fixes and improvements in the tactical combat AI.
  • Significant changes to AI behaviors around starting and stopping wars.
  • The AI should now be less likely to spam colony ships.
  • Adjustments to the AI's handling of planet production changes.
  • The AI should now pursue more varied research paths.
  • The AI should now sometimes transfer population units between planets.
  • AI's will now be more likely to cooperate with allies.
  • AI's should now wait at least 15 turns between making peace and restarting a war.
  • AI's may now demand that you stop trading with their enemies.
  • AI's may now demand that you release their people from slavery.
  • AI's may now issue ultimatums before starting a war.
  • AI's may now insist that your fleets stay outside their territory.
  • AI's may now request to start joint wars against third parties.
  • AI's may now demand that you return control of colonies they have a historical claim to.
  • AI's may now object if you establish colonies/outposts in their territory.
  • AI's may demand control of splinter colonies founded by members of their own species.
  • AI's may offer gifts to friendly players.
  • Allies should now better cooperate when routing defensive fleets.
  • Tweaks to the logic governing AI tactical retreats.
  • Changes to the AIs "sue for peace" logic.
  • Changes to peace concessions.
  • Changes to formula used in resource request events.
UI Changes and Additions
  • Added a Victory screen that includes a Graphs screen.
  • Added an "Intelligence Briefing" option to the diplomacy screen which will display Graphs for known factions (hotkey Ctrl-G).
  • Added a Credits pane to the Main Menu.
  • Added various faction-specific weapon art assets.
  • Updated the layout scheme for population icons in the planet information screen.
  • Added a 'Max Pop' option to the list of sorting criteria in the Planetary Report
  • Fix for a low level bug in the AI task dispatching logic.
  • Added debugger hooks for VS Code.
  • Fix for a bug involving intercepted AI transport fleets.
  • Fix for a bug involving AI City Planning.
  • Fix for a bug in the city planning food consumption logic.
  • Fix for a bug caused by absorbing an empire that contained outposts.
  • Fix for a star shader glitch affecting many cards using newer AMD drivers.
  • Attempted workaround for a bug affecting ship designer part placement.
  • Fix for a bug in the AIs handling of captured ships.
  • Fix for a bug in the war/peace logic.
  • Fix for a bug in the AI improvement selection logic.
  • Fix for a bug caused by reverse engineering captured Tinker technologies.
  • Fix for a bug involving ignored ship capture reports.
  • Transferring control of planets will now also transfer control of all orbiting stations.
  • Tinkers should no longer request food aid.
  • Fix for a bug caused when one AI empire absorbs another.
  • Fix for a bug in the "empire eliminated" report.
  • Transfers of planetary ownership should no longer leave invalid "encounter" reports on the starmap.
  • Fix for a bug caused when transports arrive at a planet that has changed allegiance.
  • Annexing a planet will now reduce its planetary defense level to match what is permitted by your technology.
(Click here to view the complete development changelogs, and here to view the development roadmap post.)

We hope you enjoy these changes. Until next time: good luck, Emperor!
27 comments Read more


“A worthy tribute to the classic Master of Orion games of times past.”
84 – CyberPower PC

“Proper turn-based combat paired with clever innovations.”
85 – Hooked Gamers

“An indie game truly for the 4Xer to revel in.”
90 – Gamewatcher

Featured DLC



Publisher Iceberg Interactive and developer Ashdar Games announce that Legacies, the first expansion for turn-based 4X strategy game Stars in Shadow, is available for purchase today through Steam, GOG and all major digital retailers at an SRP of $4.99. To celebrate the launch of Legacies, Stars in Shadow is currently on a weeklong 40% discount on Steam.

Legacies adds one new minor faction and one new playable faction, the cyborg Tinkers who excel in production. They worship Dzibix, an ancient mega-machine that covers the whole surface of their arid home world of the same name. The Arda Seed are a minor faction who utilize hyperspace lanes, causing hyperspace anomaly locations to pop up in the galaxy. Legacies is the first DLC to explore the causes behind the collapse of the Golden Age and subsequent Great War, Stars in Shadow’s biggest mystery.

These new gameplay features are highlighted in the video on the Legacies product page

Legacies DLC Features

  • New playable faction: Tinkers
  • New population type: cyborgs
  • New planetary special: Planetary Debris Rings and Asteroid Bases
  • Space Habitats and Re-deployable Mobile Stations
  • New minor faction: Arda Seed
  • New “Hyperspace Anomaly” locations
  • Technology Boosts and Researchable Artifacts
  • Herald encounters
  • New technologies, weapons and encounters

About This Game

Stars in Shadow is a turn-based 4X science fiction strategy game. Explore the stars, settle distant worlds, and build an interstellar empire. Recover ancient technologies and negotiate with alien leaders. Created by a pair of passionate strategy gamers, Stars in Shadow features streamlined empire management, sophisticated turn-based tactical combat, and detailed world building.


  • Epic Scope:
    Starting at the dawn of interstellar travel, progress through four eras of technological advancement. Discover the science of planetary terraforming, upgrade your infantry battalions to battle mechs, and grow your fleet from a squadron of destroyers to an armada of planet-destroying Dread Stars.

  • Varied Factions:
    7 Playable factions comprising six alien races. Each faction has different research strengths and technology options. Forming alliances, conquering neighboring species, or discovering ancient artifacts may open up additional avenues of research. Choose your race wisely as it impacts which worlds will suit you, what trades or alliances may be offered, and whether or not your neighbors are inclined to trust you.

  • Stylized Setting:
    A distinctive comic-book art style and an original, detailed universe backstory draw you into an immersive game world. Interact with a unique cast of alien characters, make friends and influence people, or crush your enemies and see them driven before you.

  • Focused High-Level Strategy:
    Build a vast and varied empire, taking advantage of the unique traits offered by different alien populations and the worlds they inhabit. Experiments on a slave population might diminish your popularity in the Galactic Council. A streamlined resource and planetary improvement model keeps the game moving even when your empire grows large.

  • Deep Turn-Based Tactical Combat:
    Face off against your opponents in complex 2D turn-based tactical battles. Counter your enemy’s missile barrage using point defense or interceptors, then close to energy weapon range! Stars in Shadow’s tactical engine includes several features rarely seen in turn based games. Multi-ship commands keep even large fleet battles fast-paced, and smart unit behaviors allow tight control with minimal micromanagement. Auto-resolve battles that are a foregone conclusion, while retaining the ability to replay any engagement to see exactly what happened.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10
    • Processor: Intel Core 2.6 GHz or equivalent
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4000 Series or better
    • Storage: 3 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Stars in Shadow requires the OpenGL framebuffer extension. This extension is present on almost all graphics drivers released after 2010, but laptops made before 2010 with vendor-locked graphics drivers may not be able to run the game.
    • OS: Windows 7,8,10
    • Processor: Intel Core Duo 3.0 GHz or equivalent
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA Geforce 400 Series or better, 1 GB RAM
    • Storage: 3 GB available space

What Curators Say

19 Curators have reviewed this product. Click here to see them.

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