[Editor’s Note] Kalla Gameworks have released multiple patches since the launch of The Pegasus Expedition, showing substantial dedication to improving the game from my initial impressions at release. Of note is the speed setting which goes up to 3x speed which was a large problem with the game. Aside from that it seems like the game is just as buggy including interface bugs, performance, and memory leaks leading to hard crashes. The game is still difficult to recommend, but the developers are at least trying to get it into a good place. Will update if it gets to a good state.
The Pegasus Expedition is a story-driven sci-fi strategy game developed by Kalla Gameworks and published by Fulqrum Publishing. The game released on Steam early access on October 21, 2022 and aims to add a strong narrative side to classic 4X-gameplay which involves managing your diplomatic ties, armies, economy and scientific development. The graphics and music are solid but there’s not much value to be had in other areas, with a small visual novel taking place between turns.
Facing an overwhelming threat at home, humanity sends an expedition to the Pegasus Galaxy in a desperate attempt to find a refuge for the population of Earth, only to find themselves in the middle of an interstellar war they inadvertently started. As you lead one of these fleets, your mission soon transitions from exploration to governance, conquest, and eventually a fight for survival. You will start out with only your seasoned but thin expeditionary fleet, and you will need to develop your economy fast to keep the Expedition going.
While functional, the 4X gameplay is very basic. There’s a galaxy map with multiple factions; some are friendly, and some are enemies. The story is supposed to shape your journey through it, but it feels more limiting than engaging in such a sandbox game style. You can invest in the systems you conquer, building outposts on the planets and starbases in space but there are minimal options and they’re not very engaging. The interface is graphically smooth but oversized, unintuitive and the large amounts of wasted space would be better used displaying more information that is otherwise confined to tooltips.
As you conquer your way through the galaxy in The Pegasus Expedition, you will come into conflict with the current inhabitants. Fighting them for control of each system is done in an automated fight where you have minimal impact over the outcome. Fleet strengths are compared and both sides choose a deployment strategy – which almost always boils down to the more concentrated forces, the better the outcome – and there’s very little way to tell what is contributing to the fight. It is a little different to the auto-resolve feature in a lot of sandbox strategy games, which leaves the game lacking much in the way of gameplay at all.
The attempt to shoehorn a scripted story into a sandbox genre leads to some problems. There is poor balancing of the usual progression of difficulty in a 4X as it must be tied to story elements. Especially early on, this leads to tedium as much of what little gameplay there is, is locked away. There is also some ludonarrative dissonance when the allied factions you’re supposed to be fighting side by side with, whom you discuss what to do together in cutscenes during the story, won’t share research or intel with you unless you bribe them.
The Pegasus Expedition is technically proficient at least. The interface, while lacking in features, is smooth and responsive. The music is good albeit limited in number of tracks, and the graphics are more than adequate for a game like this. I didn’t encounter any bugs other than a combination of poor scripting of triggers tied to campaign events. The client itself performed remarkably well. The main flaws in the presentation are the minimal animation for the various character designs during the visual novel storytelling. The game could gain a lot from additional mechanics to deepen the gameplay, improved writing and cutscenes for the story, and a more refined interface that displays information more adequately.
If you are looking for a story-based space 4X and don’t mind it being very light on mechanics, you could get some enjoyment out of The Pegasus Expedition. If you are a strategy gamer that enjoys Stellaris, Distant Worlds, Sins of a Solar Empire, Masters of Orion, or other great existing strategy games, you may find you’ll be struck with tedium and many questions. This early access release starts with the main story campaign implemented but no other content. The developers plan to release four content updates in total over the early access period, each bringing a new scenario (a new, smaller-scale campaign with different settings and twists on the core gameplay) and new features, polish, and bugfixes. We will be keeping an eye on the game as each update is released.
This early access review utilised a key provided by Gametomb.gg and The Pegasus Expedition is out now on Steam early access with the developers aiming for a mid-2023 full release.