As you can see in the trailer for Ixion, shown on The PC Gaming Show today, Earth has fallen on even harder times. Pollution, global warming, and competition for dwindling resources have given rise to the need to find a new planet for humanity to call home. Thankfully the Dolos corporation's Tycoon Station, a futuristic space ark, can take us on a galactic search for a new planet to
ruin call home.
Slight problem, however. The first test of the station's ridiculously powerful Vohle Engine just kinda sorta destroyed the moon. Whoops. Guess there's no going back to Earth if things don't work out in space.
That's where the cinematic trailer for Ixion ends, but we can tell you a lot more about what comes next. Ixion, developed by Bulwark Studios, creators of Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus, and published by Kasedo Games, is a city building and colony management game with survival and exploration elements, plus a narrative campaign running through it.
You play as the traveling space station's captain, though this heavy burden wasn't really meant for you. You just happened to be overseeing the engine's test run when calamity struck. It's perhaps the ultimate "I'm not even supposed to be here today" situation in human history. Now you actually have to save what's left of humanity.
As you travel through the galaxy to find a new home, you'll need to improve Tycoon Station, research and unlock new technology, deal with narrative events, explore new areas of the stellar maps, keep power flowing through the station, and manage your human crew. And it's not enough to just keep your crew alive, you've also got to keep them happy and hopeful. You'll be making decisions, sometimes tough ones, and if the colonists aren't thrilled with your choices you may begin to lose their trust. If things get really bad, you'll be removed from your position, which feels reminiscent of the situation in survival colony sim Frostpunk.
Frostpunk did serve as inspiration for Ixion, says Emmanuel Monnereau, Co-Founder of Bulwark Studios. "We were quite big fans of what Frostpunk did to the genre, how they merged the narrative with the core experience. And from the beginning that was something we wanted to experiment on."
"One of the things I really love about Ixion, that kind of takes notes from Frostpunk as well, is that you have multiple different screens that you'll be looking at throughout the game" says Christian Woolford, Product Manager at Kasedo Games. "It won't just be the inside of the station all the time. You will have solar maps to explore. An external system of mining and science ships to explore and investigate, sending out probes and such, so it's not just a locked experience [inside] just the station."
As for the Ixion's initial concept, Monnereau says it sprang from some conceptual artwork from a 1970s NASA study at Stanford University. The artwork shows a massive ring-shaped space station, the "Stanford torus," which generated artificial gravity by spinning and was filled with houses, trees, and even rivers and clouds.
"It was really the spark for the pitch," says Monnereau. "What if we were to build a city in this giant station?"
As you build your city and explore the galaxy, you may come across the remnants of earlier missions to the stars, which will let you salvage resources and even add to your colony's numbers by rescuing the cryogenically frozen survivors you find. You'll even be able to construct new ships to investigate planets and trade with other factions—whoever they might be. And you'll need to keep your ship in ship-shape, as hull integrity will be tested by hazards encountered in space and even from within by sabotage.
And if you're wondering about the title, Ixion, may I present this nugget from Wikipedia:
"Ixion is the fiendishly wicked king of the Lapiths from Greek mythology. In an attempted seduction of Hera, he was tricked by Zeus into making love to a cloud instead, from which was born Centaurus, the founder of the race of centaurs. Ixion's eternal punishment for his audacity and complete disrespect for both humanity and the gods was to be tied to an ever-spinning wheel of fire in Hades."
A spinning wheel of fire? Well, that just might be your traveling space station. And while you didn't defile a cloud you definitely screwed the moon. Ixion is planned for a release in 2022.