Astroneer: Countdown

Writer / Artist
Astroneer: Countdown
Astroneer Countdown review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Titan Comics - 978-1-7877-3990-1
  • Release date: 2023
  • UPC: 9781787739901
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Astroneer is a third person video game where the purpose is to terraform a planet, but the actual joy is in exploring the different environments and reacting to what occurs.

It’s a relatively lighthearted premise, and that carries through to the comic pages, with artist Xenia Pamfil giving the Astroneer, only ever referred to as Seven, and their hovering robot companion Aeric a cartoon gloss that provides emotion despite the ever-present helmet.

As with other Titan graphic novels based on games, it’s a chance for people involved with the games to supply some storylines that didn’t make the final game, but are perfectly valid in context. In this case Dave Dwonch scripts Mia Goodwin’s plot of the Astroneer having to solve an inexplicable two week absence in his life. Has he died and somehow been returned to life? The mystery is intriguing, and the consequences spinning from it engage joyfully, but Dwonch uses far too much expository dialogue. It slows things down, when more would be achieved with less.

Three short stories fill out the collection. Jeremy Lawson’s cartooning is attractive, but there’s little to a plot occupying a dozen pages. ‘Decaf Noir’ by David Pepose and Eryk Donovan is more successful, a noir crime mystery in the Astroneer’s world drawn with a gritty realism despite the story being played for laughs. The location of the missing coffee is creative.

Goodwin both writes and draws the final short, returning to the idea of time going missing as explored during the main story. Rather than a mystery, though, she treats it as a character exploration, and if the ending is a little too sentimental, arriving at it is well handled.

Players of the Astroneer game are likely to enjoy Countdown more than newcomers, but then that’s who it’s aimed at.