Maia, one of the first Early Access games, launches today

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Maia was one of the first Early Access games I covered, appearing on Steam way back in 2013. My brief, disastrous playthrough of the colony management sim stuck with me for a long time, mostly because my colonists kept sending me haiku. Maia hits 1.0 today, and the haiku are still there. 

I started a new colony last night and was already in trouble by the end of the tutorial. It was too chilly, there wasn’t enough power, my colonists were sleeping on the ground—the tutorial had told me how to fix most of those problems, but it’s easier said than done. The only thing keeping the colony going was this cat dressed up as a bee. 

Haiku, cats in costumes—Maia is a bit silly. It’s full of disasters and crises and people dying because apparently humans need oxygen, but it just about managed to avoid being grim. Not that I didn’t feel guilty when one of my colonists keeled over and just had to lie there because, whoops, I still hadn’t constructed beds, let alone a medical room.

There are loads of extremely important things a colony needs, even to just get through the first few days in tact, but you begin with almost nothing. Some supplies, a storage room and an airlock are all you get. Straight away, lots of space needs to be carved out of the rock and rooms need to be built, along with all the stuff that goes in them, from workshop tables to repair robots.  

With all these demands, it can verge on hectic, but the only things you can directly control are machines. Colonists can be influenced, but they’re also at the mercy of their bodies—simulated down to how sweaty they are—and moods. In my experience, they rarely rush. That’s probably because most of them were tired and freezing. 

There was light at the end of the tunnel, though. Beds were finally being built, I’d figured out why I kept running out of power and the hydroponics room was finally producing food. Things were looking up! Then I got a message from one of my colonists. The scanner had picked up something anomalous in the potatoes. My poor, tasty potatoes. It could have been nothing, but I wasn’t willing to take the risk. 

We burned all of the potatoes. 

The launch version includes a story-driven campaign, more rooms and systems, and multiple bases. I think the latter might be a bit ambitious for me; I’ll wait until I can keep a few humans, a cat and some chickens alive first.