There is something extremely empowering about arriving on a planet with almost nothing, and over the course of time, eventually looking up to the sky with a structure in space so big, you can see it easily. Dyson Sphere Program harnesses those desires to craft and automate and gives you something massive to work towards, with some great benefits too.
Dyson Sphere Program takes many of its design cues from Factorio, but currently it reminds me a lot of the relaxed pace of Satisfactory. The game is still in early access and has no combat, meaning the worst thing that can happen to you is being caught in the gravity of a star without power to escape your new orbit. This makes it feel a lot like Astroneer, where you are allowed to explore or go AFK for a while without coming back to disaster.
The premise is that you hail from another dimension, a place where everything is a big simulation and you send data from this realm back home to stimulate this massive DataBrain. In exchange, you get better technologies and mech improvements, which let you create even more advanced research recipes. It ends up very similar to Factorio’s various science packs, instead now you stack the research centres instead of making long rows of them. These research centres can either make a specific Matrix, or they can research them. You can unlock speed bonuses for research, and increase the number that can stack on top of one another, which leads to a nice little progression from time to time as you ramp your research towers up higher and higher. They also make great landmarks when flying around the various planets.
At the beginning of the game you are stuck on a single planet, but this changes as you get more technology. Eventually, you can explore the rest of your solar system, or even go somewhere else in your little cluster of stars. The current maximum is 64 stars, so you can go hunting for a perfect planet, or a star with the best luminance to build a sphere around, or just to find some rare materials in the game. Dyson Sphere Program offers several alternative recipes that shortcut a step or two by making use of rare crystals or strange phenomena. Tired of making your own sulphuric acid? Then find a planet that has sulphuric acid oceans and pump it into an Interstellar Transport hub, so that little AI-controlled ships can fly cargo around for you.
I been playing for about 80 hours now, and I have finished the research that signals “winning” the game. However, my Dyson Sphere isn’t a complete orb yet, and I want to encapsulate the star in a nice pretty shell. I found a new solar system that had a bunch of the materials I wanted all in one place, with ships heading to nearby stars for the other components I needed. I’m hoping the game adds the ability to keep track of things a bit better (like which solar system and planet a shipment was coming from) and I hope to see a few more recipes or refined recipes at some point. (Overclocking buildings would be rad, or getting extra components out of a machine). Even faster belts would be nice. 30 items per second sounds pretty fast, until you realise that the one machine needs 12 hydrogen per single item it makes, and you need literally tens of thousands of them. Speaking of, more ways to get hydrogen would be great, if the game is so focussed on the stuff.
Now to finish my first Dyson Sphere, before I go look for a Neutron star, or fly into a black hole. Who knows, maybe I will start again with higher resource density and make a series of concentric Dyson shapes around the best star I can find. My current sphere has a few… odd shapes to it thanks to learning how the interface works and finding the largest size a shell can be.