Meeple Station is station simulation game developed by Vox Games and released into early access on Steam, Humble Bundle and Itch.io. The Humble Bundle link is a referral, I get a small commission if you purchase the game through it. This early access analysis was performed by Joseph Pugh.
Meeple Station shares some similarities with RimWorld, which got my attention straight away. But Meeple Station is not a clone by any stretch of the imagination. You manage a station of Meeples, attempting to rein in as much profit as possible while keeping the crew happy and alive. Neither of which is easy to do.
You start the game by building the start of your station with a limited amount of funds. The difficulty you choose affects how many credits you start with, in addition to other factors. The station building is completely freeform, you simply drop down pieces like legos and since you can build multiple floors, up and down. Your station can take any shape you desire. It’s intuitive and easy to understand and use
During this first part, your pieces are built right away. Once you actually begin the game, however, each station module or piece of furniture has to be constructed by an engineer. Once you set up the required essentials, such as power and oxygen. You pick your starting quadrant to begin the game in. This is the only time you have free reign to choose. Moving to another quadrant later requires effort and fuel, so choose wisely.
Once you have picked your starting quadrant you begin running your station. You start with four randomly generated meeples, you have to promote one of them to be the station’s captain in order to assign other roles and then you can be on your merry way.
You don’t control your meeples directly, you give the orders and they follow them. Every Meeple has their own quirks. Each one has a different type of stature, nature, work ethic and sociability preference, in addition, they may have other traits such as gluttony or clumsy.
This is the core of your initial challenge. All of these factors affect each job role and how they interact with the rest of the crew. Having a Meeple in a role they aren’t fit for makes them unhappy. As does having an anti-social meeple in a position where they have to frequently interact with the rest of the crew. Let them get too upset, and they just might toss themselves out an airlock. Talk about a case of the Mondays..
Not all these possible interactions are obvious. For example, a clumsy meeple can trip over your power hookups and break them. Since a janitor needs to clean the whole station, a clumsy janitor will inevitably cause you issues. A clumsy meeple needs to be assigned to a role that keeps them away from power conduits.
You also have to keep the station powered, full of oxygen and enough producing enough food to keep your meeples fed while you follow the games loop, which is profiting through mining, refining, and trade. Each quadrant has a number of asteroid clusters, each cluster can have one of four types of resources. These resources can be refined into more advanced materials. The tree of resources is pretty large, and some of the most advanced (and expensive resources) require more than one other type of advanced recourse to process.
Each module of your station also requires these resources to be built by an engineer, you only use money to build your station at the start of the game. It’s very rare for a quadrant to have all four asteroid types, meaning you’re going to be short at least one type. So you have to balance using your materials to build your station, and selling them to trade ships that periodically stop by. That way you can buy the materials your missing from them.
Eventually, however, you will drain a quadrant dry and need to move the station with an engine set up and fuel.
As you play, you gain renown which unlocks additional heads of staff to be assigned alongside the captain. Each one opens up new avenues to pursue. Such as being able to hire guards and botanists. Officers can be hard to keep happy, and when they get upset, they give orders to another meeple as if they were you. You have to be on your toes when this occurs because they just might have ordered an airlock or oxygen tank to be destroyed. Which could be catastrophic to your station.
Things can and will go wrong, either because a meeple or officer is unhappy, or you made a miscalculation in oxygen, power or food production. One issue I had, is it’s not always obvious how or why something is going wrong until its too late. Since the stakes are pretty high, it can be frustrating to lose a couple meeple and then scratch your head trying to figure out why.
You also research new technologies, such as the previously mentioned engines. When you drain a quadrant of resources and need to move on, you face new potential hazards. Perhaps the juiciest cluster of resources that you can reach is near pirates or comets.
Having your station in one of these zones offers even greater risks to your survival. Pirates may board your station and attack your meeple, or comets and pirate bombing runs may destroy your station from the outside. You will need to counter these threats by powering up station shielding, having guards and anti-ship cannons.
Meeple Station is a fun simulation game and at times I get the same kind of joy I feel when playing RimWorld out of it. Occasionally however you will hit your stride where everything is lined up perfectly, meeples are happy, the station is well designed and you’re left with nothing to do but sit and watch your meeples mine and refine. Especially in the peaceful quadrants.
I 100% attribute this to the game being fresh into early access, and not the game’s design itself. But as always early access titles are a gamble, so do I think its worth the risk?
Meeple Station has a very solid foundation and the developers seem to have a decent track record. Prior to the early access release, Meeple received updates and most recently mod support. They also are very talkative and responsive with the community in the company’s discord channel. Its currently $19.99 on Steam and Itch.io. I’d say what we have here is already worth the price. But hopefully, it becomes even better.
I myself will offer any feedback I can to Vox Games and play Meeple Station while eagerly awaiting each update.
A key for Meeple Station was provided for Gideon’s Gaming by Vox Games. Interested in other colony sims? Check out my review of RimWorld.
- Easy to use and intuitive interface and controls.
- Freeform station building.
- Fun simulation gameplay.
- Meeples have varied traits.
- Interesting hazards and threats to contend with.
- Moving around the quadrants unique and interesting for this type of game.
- Not always clear what’s happening or why.
- Sometimes you sit idle without much to do.
- Gameplay loop of making money is a bit repetitive.