Review by Ian Keogh
Endless Space is an exploration game whereby the player either controls one of a dozen provided civilisations or creates their own and sets off to conquer the galaxy. A sequel followed in 2017, proving as highly regarded and popular and this collection of stories features an additional look at each of the civilisations written and drawn by people who worked on the game. It has an instant appeal to game players, but how is the experience as just a collection of science fiction stories?
Each civilisation is explained before their story, with some design art and further background provided afterward, but few contributions grab the attention. They’re produced by people intimately familiar with the alien, although strangely humanoid, species who’ve been working on storylines for the games for a long time. The primary concern appears to be adding background information for readers who’ve enjoyed the game, which is valid enough, but the world-building doesn’t result in compelling stories for readers who don’t know the game or characters. There are plenty of family differences, coming of age stories, and treasure hunters.
A fair portion of the art is by Max Raynor whose storytelling can’t be faulted, nor the detail supplied, but his is an anonymous style that gets the job done without you wanting to see more. The other sample art is from Yoon Seong Park, whose pages are more distinctive, if suffering from stiff figures. His best work is on the final story requiring no people, just abstractions. Denis Medri only draws the single contribution, but he’s the star turn, bringing a gravitas to races seen in earlier stories and offering some imaginative designs.
Very occasionally there’s a contribution providing something more than background. Jeff Spock and Francois Hardy’s look at the Unfallen can at least be generally appreciated, presenting good character building before the surprise ending. Also notable is the creation of the Umbral Choir in the final story, integral to the game, but able to transmit beyond that.
Game fans are likely to be satisfied with the extra information about their favourites, and there are surely enough of them to make this collection worth a punt. The merely curious are best advised to try the game first.