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DarkStar One (Switch) Review Mini

by John Rairdin - July 4, 2024, 4:15 pm EDT
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An unexpected blast from the past.

DarkStar One originally released on PC nearly twenty years ago, back in 2006. I first encountered it via its 2010 Xbox 360 version, and now it has made a surprise appearance on Switch. While plenty about DarkStar One shows its age at this point, it is still a competent space sim, with plenty of interesting concepts that have managed to hold up fairly well.

DarkStar One is a space sim with a heavy focus on RPG elements. You command the DarkStar One, a technologically advanced prototype spaceship. In it, you’ll explore an open universe as you take on jobs, fight pirates, and unravel a mystery around the death of your father. The generally gameplay loop consists of jumping into a sector, visiting a station, picking up a job, then navigating to wherever the job takes place. By doing quests and engaging in combat you’ll earn money that can be used to buy new parts for your ship. By exploring you’ll also find rare alien artifacts that can give unique special upgrades to the DarkStar One.

Movement is handled somewhat oddly compared to other similar games. Your ship doesn't really have adjustable speed. It can either stop, go, or boost. This makes navigating with any real finesse impossible and I generally resorted to killing my engines entirely and then just fethering the afterburners whenever I needed to move carefully in tight spaces. That being said, your ship does have the ability to strafe left and right, though not vertically. It can also move backwards, as can enemies who will occasionally use this ability to flip around at you and fire while you’re tailing them.

Enemy AI in general is reasonably clever if not terribly difficult. I did wind up raising the difficulty a notch higher than default as the standard difficulty makes the game very easy in most scenarios. Enemy variety is present but based on what area of space you’re in, so you’ll spend a long time fighting the same two human ships early on in the game.

DarkStar One’s greatest strength is in its open (though not seamless) world and its RPG mechanics. Its space combat is passable and enemies are reasonably fun to fight, but it was somewhat simple compared to its contemporaries in 2006 and remains so in 2024. Still, if you enjoyed classic Wing Commander Privateer games or more recent genre standouts such as Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, you’re likely to find something to enjoy here.


  • Deep upgrade systems
  • Engaging story
  • Fun side quests
  • Runs great on Switch
  • Awkward flight controls
  • Each area feels similar
  • Enemy variety takes a long time to build up

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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Game Profile

Genre Action

Worldwide Releases

na: DarkStar One
Release Jun 20, 2024
PublisherKalypso Media

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