Crying Suns

released on Sep 18, 2019

Crying Suns is a tactical rogue-lite that puts you in the role of a space fleet commander as you explore a mysteriously fallen empire. In this story rich experience inspired by Dune and Foundation, each successful run will uncover the truth about the Empire... and yourself as well.

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Gorgeous aesthetic, fascinating world-building, an almost haunting vibe, and some really solid light tactical ship combat, but it's a bit overlong and gets repetitive in the back half. I can't help but feel like Crying Suns would have benefitted from dropping the roguelike structure or reducing its length. If this were three acts instead of six, I'd probably give it 4 stars instead of 3.

Super engaging FTL clone with really fun combat. Not as good as FTL but if you see it on sale and you like FTL then BUY it. It's really fun and challenging.

TL:DR is that this is a good and fun game that has quite a few similarities to FTL, and it IS basically what would happen if FTL decided to focus more on story, but doesn't quite deliver as well in the replay department.
I'll start with the good: as I said above, Crying Suns is quite a good game with an actual story to back it up. Sure, it's a bit of a darker, more apocalyptic vision of the future (that I will not spoil) , but it's miles ahead of FTL's, which basically boils down to "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope." And this is backed up by a strategic gameplay with the same "tactical pause and strategy" feel of FTL, but takes its own spin on it. Rather than focusing on shuffling your small crew around to pummel the enemy vessel with weapons (mainly lasers), you're instead playing around with your squadrons of ships on a hexagonal grid with a very rock-paper-scissors core (or the weakness triangle, minus cruisers). It feels tactical and fun, and does have more nuance than simply "this counters that" because of some special gimmicks and properties to said ships. The upgrade system per run is also done well in its own way, and the various ship types (of which I have played two) offers pretty varied approaches to combat.
Now for the bad, and that mainly boils down to what it provides in terms of replay value. The big one is that there's a notable lack of "secret hunting" that incentivizes replays. FTL has its ship unlocks that can be accelerated by certain special events or, if you can't be bothered, demands playing around with all ship types and hunting for achievements. In Crying Suns, that does not exist - you can unlock ALL ship types just by playing through the game's story (which is what I did with the starter battleship). And while the story is good, is has quite a LOT of dialogue boxes (which, even on a first playthrough, get pretty tedious and easy to lose track of the story). It's not quite to the level where the "roguelike" aspect feels shoehorned in, but it definitely kept me from playing too far after I completed the main story and all six of its chapters. And as for the difficulty, it seems a bit too easy, as in "HARD" mode feels as difficult as "Normal" mode in FTL, and more challenge generally translates to ore replay value.
On a side note, I would like to draw special attention to Crying Sun's soundtrack. It's OK - perfectly fitting for the type of atmosphere it tries to give, but to me, it lacks the "magic" that makes it fantastic like Ben Prunty's soundtrack for FTL.
Even with all that, it's still a good game. I think you'll get plenty of enjoyment if you treat this game less like a typical roguelike you play over and over for completion but rather a tactics-based singleplayer campaign with roguelike elements sprinkled in.

To be honest, it would've been better if it wasn't a roguelike. The story and atmosphere are so strong that if they had manually tailored the combat progression more rather than leave so many elements up to random chance, it would've felt more of like a polished experience which would've better served the cinematic vibe they're going for. Otherwise, some pretty solid sci-fi that, in my opinion, succeeds in making the player asks themselves some pretty interesting philosophical questions, the goal of any good sci-fi really.