I had a chance to play a pre-release version of House of the Dying Sun for a summertime preview, and it was an absolute blast. It's a Freespace-meets-Homeworld-meets-Battlestar space combat sim, stripped down to the bare metal: Missions are short, vicious affairs carried out in some of the prettiest slices of stylized space I've ever seen. Now it's time to take the full release for a spin.
The 1.0 version, codenamed Dragon (because all the codenames in House of the Dying Sun are dangerous-sounding and cool) is "a culmination of all the improvements implemented during Early Access," developer Marauder Interactive said in the pre-release announcement, along with a few other newly-added features. Finishing the campaign opens up the new Dragon Difficulty, which limits players to fighters and rebalances missions with new enemy fleets, loadouts, timings, and a pair of new ships: The Interdictor, which prevents fighters from warping out of combat, and the Target Jammer Frigate, which keeps your heaviest hitters out of the fight until it's destroyed.
There's also a new Flagship Hunt mode that adds a flagship with a unique commander and escort fleet to each mission. "Some advanced players took it upon themselves to try and defeat the traitor flagship in every mission. We thought this was pretty cool, so we added gameplay around this," the release notes explain. "Each mission's flagship has been given a unique commander and a custom escort fleet. They are designed to be extra challenging while offering super-capital battles even in missions that didn't originally support them."
Other "notable improvements" include various bug fixes and tweaks, changes to missions, and little bits of polish here and there. The notes also warn that despite the game looking like it was built for one, HOTAS controllers are not officially supported and not guaranteed to work. "Some HOTAS controller do work well with the game, but they will remain at-your-own-risk. They were becoming a huge, never-ending time sink, so no more work will be done to support them."
House of the Dying Sun is currently on sale for ten percent off the regular price on Steam, dropping it to $18/£13.50, until November 8.