Starflight 3 Marks the Return of the Classic Space RPG Series

Starflight 3: Universe revives a pioneering space RPG franchise that inspired so much of the sci-fi we enjoy today.

Starflight, a series that helped pioneer the sci-fi sandbox RPG, is making a comeback almost 30 years after its last installment. Developer Human Nature has announced that it’s working on Starflight 3: Universe and that series creator Greg Johnson (of ToeJam & Earl fame) is back to head the project.

The first trailer for the game is a nostalgic look at the 1986 original, which was developed by Binary Systems and published by Electronic Arts, and also shows off a brief look at what to expect from the new game. Watch it below:

Starflight 3: Universe is “a sci-fi single-player, sandbox role-playing game that focuses on exploration, diplomacy, resource gathering, and combat,” according to the press release. “Players will have solar systems with tons of planets to discover and explore, mine for necessary resources, catalog new creatures, trade and use diplomacy with locals, all while saving the universe. Starflight 3 is a true free-form experience.”

The sequel actually sounds quite ambitious. The press release also promises “new and previous alien races, uncharted solar systems to discover, and never before seen planets to explore, all within the same genre-defining gameplay mechanics of the original games.” You’ll also be tasked with managing a crew for your starship, which is customizable. You can also “harvest plants, capture animals, and discover mind-bending clues scattered across the solar systems.” It’s not clear what the “mind-bending clues” are for but I assume it has something to do with the story. 

Human Nature has also launched a crowdfunding campaign to get the game made if you’d like to support it. At the time of this writing, the studio is at 12% of its $800,000 goal. 

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For those unfamiliar with the original Starflight, it was originally released for the IBM PC before being ported to the Atari ST, Macintosh, Commodore 64, and Sega Genesis. Although gameplay didn’t amount to much more than a series of screens with prompts, it did offer a complex RPG experience more detailed than many of the sci-fi adventures it inspired, such as Mass Effect and No Man’s Sky.

The game allowed you to explore up to 800 planets in 207 star systems with varying gravity levels that could affect your ship’s capability to land. You could also mine for rare minerals, scan for life and artifacts, and set up new colonies across the galaxy. Interacting with aliens was also key to the experience. Alien races ranged from bugs and androids to sentient plants, talking blobs, and even a hivemind race. You can definitely see what Mass Effect developer Casey Hudson borrowed from this game. 

The space RPG received one sequel in 1989 called Starflight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula, which introduced an economy race as well as a militaristic alien race threatening the galaxy. If you’re interested in picking up both these classics for cheap, they’re both bundled on GOG for $5.99

As for Starflight 3: Universe, we’ll keep you updated as we learn more!

John Saavedra is Games Editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9