Astralia Game Guide

Yes, it has come to this, Astralia is so difficult and so challenging (just kidding) that I had to make a guide for it!
Full text after the break.

Astralia Guide/FAQ (version 0.1)
Astralia is a shooter RTS mix, not exactly a pure shmup or dual stick shooter as it may come across in the beginning, there is strategy involved and is essential to the gameplay, trying to play while ignoring the strategy part would be maybe like assuming Starcraft is a tower defense game, you will fail, die and get frustrated.

The intention of this guide is to give you some playing tips and clear up a few misunderstandings about the game, I will not do a complete walkthrough for now, maybe later.

This guide applies for both PC and Xbox360 since the game is very much the same, the only different thing on the PC is the mouse+keyboard control scheme (and you can also play the PC version with an Xbox compatible gamepad).

The game has a story, I will not re-tell it here, suffice to say that there is one and if you like cheesy Sci-Fi read it; anyway, you can skip the dialog with B or Space and get on with the action and enjoy the explosions. The first level is a tutorial and it is somewhat important but if you skipped it read the Controls section for an explanation.

About the game
Astralia is definitely an action shooter but again if you play it just like that and ignore the tactical aspect and the resource management part your experience will be frustrating and short lived.

In the game you control your ship and up to 8 drones that will follow you around and do what they're told, you will also control a couple of larger units, but that is later in the game. You will battle the "space monsters" (yes, it cracks me up too, every time I say it), there are a few types of monsters that come out of "hives", monsters don't like you and tend to protect their hives. If you take out a hive all the monsters that spawned from that hive will also die (and now you know why they are protecting it).

Almost everything you do in the game requires "Materia", a fictional substance that you obtain by blowing up asteroids and enemies. The "almost everything" includes firing your weapons, repairing your ship, building more drones and firing their weapons and more.

Battles can get quite frantic and especially later in the game they get epically large, there can be quite a few enemies on the screen at the same time and this is on purpose. The game can be challenging but it is also quite satisfying when you're done wiping out all the baddies and this guide will help you achieve this.

Left stick or mouse movement controls the player ship, press and hold A or the left mouse button to fire, no need for button mashing. The green cone that appears in front of your ship is the auto-targetting area, closest target in the cone gets tagged and weapons locked onto it, you can move arround and your projectile will keep homing onto that target, so MOVE!!!, it is the only way to avoid taking damage.

The bars on the side of the screen control the action, each bar is activated by one of the trigger or shoulder buttons on the gamepad, the physical location of the buttons corresponds to the location of the button bar on the screen. Once you active a bar either use the DPad or the shortcuts (A, B, X, Y) displayed next to the command.

The PC is even easier, shortcut keys are displayed next to the commands and the layout is kinda the same, again, the physical layout of the keys on the keyboard corresponds to the bars locations, you can control everything with the left hand without moving it much.

Controls may sound a bit complicated (but then again, this game is not a one button shooter), you just have to see the screen and it will all make sense,

General Controls
* A/Left click - fire, hold to fire no need to mash it
* X/Right click - slow time, this can be quite important when things get frantic and you need a second to decide your next move
* B/Space - skip dialog

Top left: *drone formations* (Left Bumper)
* Delta - drones will follow and shoot diagonally, good from taking out enemies coming from the sides while you concentrate on a larger target
* Circle - drone will form a protecting circle around you, good if you're low on health and taking fire.
* Line - a wide wall formation, good for things like bombing runs for softening the enemy defenses.
* Claw - a V formation where all drones concentrate fire on the enemy in front of you, you can take out a large enemy quite fast.

Bottom left: *drone weapons* bar (Left Trigger)
* Bullets - cheap, low to moderate damage on small targets, pretty weak against large targets
* Rockets - moderately priced, good damage against most units, a full Claw formation firing rockets can take out a large hive in seconds
* Raygun - a bit pricey but extremely effective against all targets, also pretty to look at
* Stop firing

Top Right: *construction commands* (Right Bumper)
* Repair ship - automatically repair the ship when takes damage, consumes materia
* Build drones - build more drones, up to 8, again, consumes materia
* Recycle drone - if you're in a tight spot and really need more materia you can recycle a drone and recover some, you should almost never do that
* Stop

Bottom right: *ship weapons* (Right Trigger)
* Bullets - free, low to moderate damage on small targets, pretty weak against large targets
* Rockets - moderately priced, good damage against most units, a full Claw formation firing rockets can take out a large hive in seconds
* Raygun - a bit pricey but extremely effective against all targets, also pretty to look at.
* Mines - homing mines, they do splash damage and can take out multiple enemies, drop them behind, they will lock onto any enemies that get close enough.

General playing tips
I have seen a few strategies and playing styles and part of the fun is figuring it out, but if things are getting tough here are some ideas in no particular order.

* There is an Instructions screen that also has a short movie, about a minute, read those instructions or at least watch the movie.

* Keep moving, tag a target, start firing at it and keep moving, if you stay in one spot monsters will converge on your position in seconds.

* Watch your materia amount, without materia you can end up in a pretty bad spot, retreat, shoot some asteroids if there are any around or harass the enemy and kill a few smaller ones to get some materia.

* Use "slow time", (that is X or right click), it does exactly what it says, it slows down time for a bit so that you can change formations, weapons, do whatever needs to be done without getting killed. A lot of players miss this feature, you should not

* The enemy turrets are annoying, they track good pretty and do quite a bit of damage, try to take them out first.

* Later in the game you can build your own turrets, they almost indestructible and a good source of materia. They can also act as decoy.

* Retreat when you are low on health, if you don't get hit for a few seconds you will recover quickly.

* Never be without drones, the game is meant to be played with them, if you don't have any left, retreat and build some. Drones also recover HP, watch out their color, if they turn red just get out for a bit. The drone weapons are a bit weaker but also significantly cheaper so have the drones fire instead of you.

* Each enemy is weak to a different weapon but rockets seem to be effective against everybody.

* The raygun is the most powerful weapon and also the most expensive one to fire and usually overkill for small enemies, be sure to have ample amounts of materia and use it in short bursts, it should take care of pretty much any enemy.

* Mines are reasonably cheap and will take out a group of enemies so if you are surrounded just drop a few, it should clean up the area nicely. They may sound like the perfect weapon, their only problem is that they don't damage the hives at all.

* Formations are important, experiment with them in different situations

* Switch to the "Easy" difficulty from the Options screen if you can't get past a level, there's no penalty to it and you can switch back later and replay the level you want it.

+++To be continued+++

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