‘Astronaut: The Best’ Review: Is The Sky The Limit for This Indie Game?

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In the year of Baldur’s Gate 3, Tears of the Kingdom and a plethora of other “Game of the Year” contenders, Astronaut: The Best is a breath of fresh air. While it may not boast hundreds of hours of gameplay or any revolutionary features, Astronaut: The Best is a charming, zany and slightly repetitive, indie darling that gives players something a little bit different.

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Astronaut: The Best - Launch Announcement Trailer

Rocket Men: What Is Astronaut: The Best All About?

Astronaut: The Best, simple UI
Ground Control to Major Me! Image Credit: Universal Happymaker

In Astronaut: The Best you take control of a rag-tag team of what the game describes as “incompetent screwups”, where it’s your job as director of the Flaustrian Royal Space Academy (the FRSA) to turn them into national heroes. Training the astronauts for the FRSA seems like a pretty easy task at first, as under the watchful eye of the five High Priests of Flaustria, you must prepare your astronauts for a live television appearance.

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However, things go awry quickly as the emotional dampener that is meant to keep some of the “less desirable” qualities of the astronauts goes on the fritz, exposing some of the weird hidden aspects of their personalities. In-game this is known as the “Hidden Trait” mechanic which is a simple yet effective way to introduce variety in each playthrough. These traits can be a benefit or detriment to your playthrough with each giving positive or negative bonuses to your astronaut’s stats.

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The five stats you can train in the game are piloting, procedure, fitness, charm and beauty. As you play these stats can be affected by random events and hidden traits that can either boost or decrease them. For example, an astronaut taking steroids may positively affect their fitness but if the press finds out it can decrease how the public perceives them negatively impacting their charm.

Astronaut: The Best Dialogue screen
Grigovich about to risk it all, Image Credit: Universal Happymaker

While training your team you also have to balance the attitude of the five High Priests which is impacted by decisions you make during random events and dialogue options. The better your favour is with each priest the more “budget” you receive to help train and buy upgrades for the FRSA. Although you definitely can’t please everyone, the quirky mini-events and dialogue options add to Astronaut: The Best’s weird world-building and charming characters.

To Infinity and Beyond: What Makes Astronaut: The Best Fun To Play?

Astronaut: The Best, Countdown to Launch
Time for Take Off, Image credit: Universal Happymaker

Astronaut: The Best is a classic management simulator with an occult twist, and as with all good properties in 2023, there is a multiverse involved. Although the game is only made up of five missions due to the Roguelike elements and randomised content there are many ways to succeed and fail spectacularly while playing.

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This is where the “multiverse” aspect comes into play. With the help of the literal spirit of the FRSA (which is a giant patriotic lion), when failure comes a-knockin you are transported to a different universe to get another chance at success with a new team of reprobates. My only issue is that I did find some of the random scenarios to be repetitive on occasion questioning why I had to play through the same thing with just slightly different flavour text.

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When looking at the roguelike-esc features this mainly comes in the form of glory that when you hop universe is turned into a currency which can be used to create “magical items” that can help you with your goals. Weirdly enough in a game about space there is a lot of magic and witchcraft involved as you can also purchase spells to help you complete your missions. These spells range from increasing your relationship with a High Priest to helping an astronaut unlock a hidden talent with a mystic charm. These spells add another layer to the gameplay to keep it mostly fresh with each mission you play.

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Astronaut: The Best is a whimsical and zany indie simulator game that gives you a break from your hundred-plus-hour RPGs. With fun unlockable looks for your astronauts and a surprisingly in-depth upgrade and training system, this indie darling is worth a play if you need a palate cleanser.

7/10

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Astronaut: The Best was played and reviewed on a code supplied by Universal Happymaker.

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Massimo Castelli

Written by Massimo Castelli

Articles Published: 69

Massimo Castelli is a part of FandomWire’s Video Game Reviewers and News Writers team. With a degree in Journalism and English from the University of Strathclyde and a passion for all things gaming and comic book-related, there is no one more qualified to ramble about video game lore and comic-book trivia than him.