The massive success of games like Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous have certainly proved that the space sim genre is back in a big way. Everyone wants to captain their own spaceship and indie developers are rushing to produce the biggest and best space-based experience for them. Yet, sitting on the sidelines is a game that has been providing this for years, and doing it exceptionally well.
Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator is truly unlike anything you have played before. The game is multiplayer only, requiring you to assemble at least one crew to man your spaceship. Each ship is made up of six stations, Helm, Weapons, Engineer, Science, Communications, and, of course, the Captain. Each of theses stations plays differently than the others, with all of them adding up to a single functional ship.
As the captain you monitor ship operations and determine where to go and what to do by communicating with your crewmembers, there is no direct interaction by the captain in terms of ship operation. The other stations carry out the captain’s orders and perform various station-specific tasks, such as piloting the ship, targeting enemies, managing repair teams and other ship systems, and communicating with other ships in the area. Once you get your ship functioning as a well-oiled machine you can take on various missions and objectives, or load up one of the many fan-created scenarios.
Protect your factions bases from incoming swarms of enemies, defend a border against warring factions, or strike deep within the heart of enemy territory. The different modes are unique and interesting, but can wear a bit thin after enough gameplay sessions. This is where the fan-created scenarios come in, with other players setting up different objectives to take on. If this is a bit too much for you, you can always have someone else play as the Game Master, spawning hazards and enemies as they see fit.
No matter what gamemode or objective you are taking on, the fun in Artemis is in the interaction with your crew. While the game supports online multiplayer, it is highly recommended that you and your crew all be in the same room, staring at the same main screen. The importance of this becomes abundantly clear when, as the captain, you find yourself managing the operations of all six stations, taking in info from all of your crew, deciding the best course of action, and then communicating that to the proper crew members.
At any one time, as the captain, you’ll be taking in and relaying tons of information. For a single instance of combat you’ll have to get the coordinates of your target, convey that to helm, raise shields, get the ship’s callsign, relay that to comms and have them begin requesting the enemy’s surrender, and making sure that weapons is targeting the right ship with the right ordinance. This is just for a straight up firefight though, mix in additional enemies, different types of ships, interesting strategies, and many other elements and no single conflict plays out the same.
Communication is the biggest key, and the most fun aspect, of Artemis. My group has went through about 20 missions, across four gaming sessions and we already have shorthand language, Star Trek themed nicknames, and a ton of inside jokes. Some of my greatest moments in gaming have come from Artemis, such as the time our engineer blew out our engines in the middle of a firefight, all of the failed FTL jumps due to helm not undocking the ship, and so many great firefights that I can’t even count.
Artemis is undoubtedly one of the greatest multiplayer games that you will ever play
Those firefights can play out in tons of different ways. Some captains will jump right into the fray, dropping into the middle of a swarm of enemies and hoping their crew can get them out. Others take a more strategic approach, laying mines in the enemy’s path and taking them out with a mixture of nukes and missiles from their rear. Any one of these strategies can be ruined with an uncooperative or inexperienced crew member, for example: a science officer relaying the wrong coordinates, causing the ship to drop right into a minefield.
I say “dropped” because my group and I prefer the Battlestar Galactica-esque FTL jumping, where you disappear from one spot and reappear in another. There is of course a Star Trek style warp method though, which seems to be a fan-favorite. Artemis is all about options though, as it features multiple ship styles, gamemodes, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
The possibilities are truly endless as Artemis is developed as a very open system. Mods are already available for the latest version of the game, and the developer continues to incorporate requested elements as the game progresses. These advances can take a while though as Artemis was created and continues to be managed by a single person, Thom Robertson.
Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator originally launched in 2010 and has had significant upgrades applied to it over the last five years. Version 2.1.5 popped upin December of 2014, showing that not only is the game still active, but it is thriving. Despite only having a single person behind almost everything in the game, Artemis continues to grow and change.
The game already offers both online and offline play featuring eight possible ships manned by up to six players. Of course, the issue here is actually getting people together to play, which is likely the major thing holding back Artemis in general. Despite having a dedicated group of friends who enjoy the game, we’ve only been able to organize a few events. The hectic schedules of adult gamers can interfere and cause unfortunate delays.
Once you do manage to get six people, with six computers, and enough connectivity together to get it up and running though, Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator is undoubtedly one of the greatest multiplayer games that you will ever play. The authenticity of the simulation combines with the fun of hanging out with your friends to create an atmosphere and experience like no other. It is, without a doubt, one of the best multiplayer games available today. If you get a chance to play it, whether at home or at a convention, do not pass it up. You might find yourself becoming addicted to the joy of commanding your very own spaceship.
Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator is available now on PC, Steam, Android, and iOS for various prices. You can learn more about the game and its universe by clicking here.