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Dyson Sphere Program is a three-dimensional, third-person Factory-Building Game developed by Youthcat Studio, a small but talented team of programmers from China. It was released into Early Access on Steam on January 21, 2021.

In the far future, mankind has passed through The Singularity and exists primarily in cyberspace. To feed the virtual civilization's ever-growing energy needs, a lone engineer is put in a mecha suit and sent to a distant star cluster with but one goal: the construction of a Dyson Sphere. It is now up to them to exploit the cluster's natural resources, set up automated production and research lines to manufacture increasingly complex components, and eventually develop the technological and industrial capabilities required to harvest the power of an entire star.

The game is clearly inspired by its genre's titans Factorio and Satisfactory and can be considered the golden compromise between the two: the former's ease of planning and supervision thanks to its all-encompassing third-person view, combined with the latter's beautiful 3D visuals. And, of course, a wildly more ambitious goal than either of them.

In its current Early Access state, most of the essential features are complete, including all relevant buildings, almost the entire Tech Tree, mech customization and the initial draft of Dark Fog combat. However, the developers have announced their plans to implement additional features and expand upon current ones.


Dyson Sphere Program provides examples of:

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    Tropes A-C 
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • A justified case of Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale. The devs obviously do, but a game on an interstellar scale requires some concessions. Planets are only a couple hundred meters in diameter (meaning you can jog around a whole planet in a few minutes), and although their distances from each other are given in AUnote , they're actually in kilometers and traveling between planets is a trip of several minutes.
    • Even if Dark Fog attacks damage entire swaths of infrastructure, they can never be completely destroyed; merely rendered inoperable and can be automatically rebuilt by the mech's drones and/or a Battlefield Analysis Base when nearby, while the right technology increases the speed at which they rebuild destroyed items. In a game all about automation and careful placement/juggling of many different moving parts, having to constantly rebuild your infrastructure from scratch would cause a lot of headaches.
  • Achievement Mockery:
    • You get an achievement called "You Started It!" if you get Icarus destroyed by Dark Fog attacks on Passive setting.
    • "I Forgot About That" commemorates your smart decision to build a wind turbine on a planet with no atmosphere.
    • You'll be awarded with "No Diving!" for running out of power and crashing into an ocean.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Dark Fog is a gargantuan swarm of rogue nanites that was supposed to do what the Engineer is doing now, but at some point got different ideas and is now opposing anyone trying to carry out its original mission.
  • Anti-Air: There are three layers: traditional anti-air which targets Dark Fog units in the planet's atmosphere, high-air which targets objects in low orbit, and anti-space which targets Dark Fog that attempt to orbitally bombard your planets.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • All planets, even ones that never hosted organic life, have at least one little coal patch somewhere to allow you to refuel your mecha for the return trip.
    • Belts don't physically exist for the mecha: it can walk right through them regardless of how high you built them, and it isn't affected by their movement when it walks over/on them. Belts also don't consume power, can be freely built over liquid surfaces, and with the proper room can be vertically built over just about everything (instead of being restricted to one belt per space). If a player builds a line of belts in the wrong direction without realizing it, they can also simply reverse the direction, instead of having to deconstruct and rebuild it correctly.
    • The whole point of rare resources is that they allow you to produce certain advanced materials very easily by skipping most of the complex refinement steps you'd normally be required to go through. The only rare resource that can spawn in your starting system is fire ice, but that's a huge help already because it replaces an entire oil processing chain, and the ones that can be found in other star systems can make the top-tier assembly line setups much less of a headache.
    • All machines and placed components can be freely and infinitely deconstructed, allowing you to tear down and redesign your assembly lines as often as you like without having to worry about losing expensive hardware. Any resources on belts when this happens also go into the mecha's inventory (or the ground, if there's no room), so nothing is lost.
    • Solar panels work everywhere, even on planets that orbit a black hole. They're less efficient of course, but they work. These worlds are also almost as brightly lit as ones with an actual sun, for setting up assembly lines in near-total darkness wouldn't make a whole lot of fun.
    • There is no occlusion mechanic (yet), meaning that even a fully completed Dyson shell has no effect on the output of planetary solar panels, so no need to worry about your factory suddenly screeching to a halt because you didn't manage (or forgot) to switch out your solar panels for ray receivers in time.
      • An interesting side effect of this is that you can essentially layer Dyson shells around each other, with each new layer growing more powerful due to the larger surface area catching more sunlight. So, if you're dissatisfied with your first shell's output, just build another one around it. The necessary infrastructure is already in place, after all.
    • Once Solar Sails are placed in an actual Dyson Shell, their lifetime is moot - inside the shell, Solar Sails last indefinitely.
    • The player's start location is guaranteed to be within sight of iron and copper, and a short walk from coal (sometimes stone as well), putting everything needed for early research and a simple factory within spitting distance.
    • Certain structures - Splitters, Research Matrixes, Storage buildings, etc - can be stacked on top of each other, improving their function outputs while simultaneously cutting down on the production lines/space necessary to run them separately. Splitters in particular can help loop excess materials back into your various production lines.
    • EM-Rail Ejectors need a certain amount of space for their turrets to rotate, but beyond that, anything on-planet that's tall enough to be in their line-of-sight with the star - particularly Logistic Stations - are entirely ignored.
    • Unlike mineral resources, oil seeps are not measured in units available, but units per second, meaning that they will never run out of oil (merely slow to a crawl). While unrealistic, the sheer amount of production that ends up centered on an oil extractor means that you'll be very glad you don't need to relocate it when the well runs dry.
    • If your drone hangars run dry during intense combat, Icarus automatically draws more drones from the inventory, provided there are any available.
    • Although the Dark Fog runs on an intricate internal resource economy, it doesn't tap the same resources the player needs, so no matter how many bases the Grey Goo sets up across the cluster, there's no serious risk of it depleting your construction materials. They might occasionally pave over resource patches with their foundations, though that's unlikely to ever pose a problem in the larger scheme of things.
  • Antimatter: The final non-Dyson-shell power generator you can unlock is a tiny artificial sun that runs on antimatter fuel rods. The thing is in fact higher on the Tech Tree than all the tech you need to start constructing the shell, but is far far more efficient at capturing the power a full sphere can generate. On the weapon side of things, Antimatter Capsules are the final researchable ammo and are usable in Plasma Turrets, which will straight up obliterate whatever unfortunate dark fog ship that finds itself targeted.
  • Attack Drone: Comes in two flavors: Ground Squadrons and Space Fleets. Ground Squadrons will only assist you in planet side fights, while Space Fleets assist you in directly attacking Dark Fog fortresses.
  • Arm Cannon: The mecha carries a massive laser cannon on the outside of its right forearm. It's mainly used for manual mining, but it also functions as an Emergency Weapon to combat small Dark Fog swarms.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • A completed shell's power output is billions of times lower than it should be. The average shell yields 6-8 gigawatts of juice, depending on its size, layout, and the luminosity of the star it orbits. This is about five times of what a present-day nuclear reactor generates, and roughly 0.035% of what humanity as a whole consumes today. Even a shell constructed from current-gen solar collectors with their fairly low efficiency should have an output in the range of 100,000,000 terawatts, and it's probably safe to assume that the futuristic in-game solar sails are much more efficient. And that's just for a small backyard star like our Sun - keep in mind that you're free (even encouraged) to encase blue giants that are much more luminous. Could be justified as inherently sending most of the energy back to mankind to power the new supercomputer, while the remainder is there to help keep your whole operation running.
      • The whole point of a Dyson shell is its ability to harvest the entire energy output of the star in its center, but even a completed shell in the game has no effect on the output of your planet-bound solar panels. This basically means that the star's radiation passes through the shell virtually unhindered, which might just give an unintentional explanation for the point above. However, this is likely intentional, to serve as an Anti-Frustration Feature.
    • You can fly right up to any celestial body without getting harmed, including a black hole.
    • Unipolar magnets, AKA magnetic monopoles, are a so-far hypothetic type of exotic matter that forms mind-bogglingly dense pseudo-atomic structures. A solid sphere slightly bigger than a golf ball of this stuff would concentrate so much mass in one spot that it would collapse into a black hole. In-game the stuff is found in standard ore deposits that of course don't act like this. Also, magnetic monopoles as we currently understand them are incredibly rare and thus most likely won't form mineable deposits anywhere in the universe.
  • Asteroids Monster: Planetary Dark Fog bases are usually patrolled by three or four snake-like constructs that break apart into half a dozen Raiders each the moment combat is initiated.
  • Attack Drone: The Dark Fog forces consist of enormous swarms of these. To counter them, Icarus has no choice but to deploy its own swarms of drones.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Dyson swarms look awesome, but are fairly low in power output when there's only one/a few of them set up around a star. Until you get a good portion of Dyson swarms going and/or research to keep their lifespan as high as possible, you could generate more juice by burning excess products, saving the resources necessary for solar sail production until you start constructing the actual Dyson shell. Averted if power isn't strictly your goal, where you can instead use Ray Receivers to turn the swarm's output into Critical Photons (and thus, Antimatter).
    • Downplayed with rare resources. They all speed up production of various complex items, but due to their rarity, they won't ever completely replace the standard production lines and so instead function as secondary supplies. For example, Unipolar Magnets greatly simplify the production of Particle Containers, yet can only be found on planets orbiting a Neutron star or a Black Hole (only one of each will be generated per cluster). The only possible exception to this is Fire Ice, which can spawn in the starting system and greatly simplifies the production of Graphene by replacing an entire oil production chain.
    • Satellite Substations are floating structures that power a wide range below them, more than three times as much space for powering facilities than a regular Tesla Tower, and have a longer connection range than one as well. However, building them requires products that are also used in the production of the Dyson Shell, which makes them extremely expensive late-game items, and their required building space is also much larger (making them unable to fit into tight-spaced setups). This makes them cool to build and deploy, but rarely necessary.
  • Beam Spam: Most weapons in the game shoot either energy beams or tracer rounds, which turns every battle into a spectacular lightshow.
  • Berserk Button: The Dark Fog gets triggered by the electromagnetic emissions of high-tech industrialization, so the more you build note , the more aggressively the planet's ground bases attack. Their space hives are usually quite passive overall, but they get cranky if you shoot down the orbital stations above their ground bases, and they go absolutely ballistic once you start launching solar sails and constructing the actual Dyson sphere.
  • BFG:
    • Dyson swarms are maintained by EM rail ejectors, gigantic coilgun turrets that constantly launch new solar sails into the swarm's orbit(s).
    • Strictly speaking, given the scale of the game's planets and buildings, all available turrets including the guns they carry are ridiculously huge, but two examples in particular still stand out among them:
      • The Implosion Cannon is an artillery piece that launches 280mm shells (on par with WWII battleship main guns) with a 13m blast radius. You get an achievement for blowing up 40+ Dark Fog units with a single shot from this beast.
      • The Plasma Turret is a ginormous anti-space defense cannon with a footprint bigger than almost anything else in the game. Its standard ammo already hurts plenty, but in the late game it can be loaded with Antimatter capsules that One-Hit Kill anything the Dark Fog's space swarms can throw at your planets, usually before they even get in range to fire a weapon. It also has a decent splash radius and fires quite quickly at one shot per second, meaning a single cannon can neutralize entire DF fleets on its own.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: When the game initially released, it was painfully apparent that English is not the developers' mother tongue. Fortunately, they were usually understandable enough to work with, and almost every update includes some reworked descriptions that sound much less jarring.
  • Boring, but Practical: The early-game power generation trifecta of wind turbines, solar panels and thermal power plants isn't particularly flashy, but they are simple to set up, reliable, cheap to craft by the dozen, and usable with minimal fuss just about everywhere. They don't have the huge power output of the late-game generators, but this can be countered by just spamming more of them.
    • The thermal power plants also consume resources you will eventually need for other things, but it can burn so many different fuels that there's pretty much always some leftover resources to stuff into the furnace, so that's rarely a problem. They're also great for disposing of secondary oil refinery products you need to get rid of, lest they clog up the rest of your assembly lines.
    • Wind turbines won't generate as much power as the other two unless the planet's wind ratio is higher, and must be spaced apart, but they only rely on the ambient atmosphere of the planet, meaning they will be 100% consistent with power output, rather than having to wait on the sun or relying on a fuel supply. Starting with the initial Dark Fog update, once you've researched the early game Steel technology, you can also place them on water without requiring Foundation to be placed.
    • Simple Tesla Towers. While they're not as cool as the Satellite Substation, and they don't have the same range as a Wireless Power Tower (which is more efficient for recharging your mech, due to low energy supply area), they're cheap to build with commonly available materials (iron and copper) that you can refine and produce yourself without needing a complicated production linenote , and are easy to drop down whenever and wherever you need them.
    • Laser turrets are the only turrets that can't be loaded with increasingly powerful ammo, which means their DPS is fixed and quickly outpaced by the other turret types. However, the fact that they don't need a supply line other than power makes them marvelously easy to use and deploy, especially on newly settled planets that need to be defended quickly. They're also fairly cheap to craft, requiring nothing more than iron, copper and stone as raw materials for their components, so if you come up against something your laser turrets can't handle, just spam more of them.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Icarus has the ability to charge up and use an "Energy Shield Burst". The longer it is charged, the more total damage is dealt, but it can only deal a fixed amount of damage per Dark Fog unit hit. It goes without saying, but using this skill drains the shield's hit points.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Once you unlock warp drive technology, your mecha and all your transport vessels can make the multi-light year jumps between star systems with basically the press of a button. The warp drive consumes a special type of fuel, but by the time you actually need it, producing the stuff in bulk shouldn't be much of a problem. However, one should be wary about one thing - the warp engine will cut out immediately if the mecha runs out of energy mid-flight, no matter if it's inside a planetary system or in deep space.
  • Challenge Run: A couple of achievements challenge you to forgo doing things that would make your life easier.
    • x0.5 Resource Completion: Exactly What It Says on the Tin, you have to beat the game with only half the normal amount of resources available to you by choosing x0.5 resources in the galaxy generation. If you play with the Dark Fog enabled, especially at higher settings, then good luck.
    • Solar Sail? No Thank You!: You must finish the game without launching a single solar sail into orbit. While far from impossible, the amount of resources required to build a Dyson Sphere without sails - and from them, the critical photons needed for antimatter - is staggering and time-consuming, especially when it comes to deuterium.
    • Environmentalist: Complete the game without using any foundation. Depending on what planet types you decide to settle your main production facilities on, this can range from a free win, to absolute hell to complete.
    • Alien Mineral Protection Act: Complete the game without mining rare ore veins. While non-vein sources are allowed - Fire Ice via gas giant harvesting, Sulfuric Acid pumped from acidic oceans and/or made in Chemical Plants (and same goes for Organic Crystals), etc - all rare ores are banned from being mined by the player or machines. No shortcuts allowed here, so your factories will inevitably start sprawling like crazy.
    • Didn't Break A Sweat! and Mission Impossible!: Complete the game within 25 hours and 10 hours, respectively, on a x1.0 or lower resource difficulty; any higher, and/or using metadata for instant research, invalidates the achievement. Note that a normal run of the game, start to finish with no bonuses, generally takes at least 50 hours, and usually closer to 70. No matter what, it'll be close!
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Aside from the usual distinctly colored resources, the normally light-grey logistic drones and carrier vessels change their hull color to match whatever they're currently carrying.
    • If a building type has multiple tiers, generally its Mk.I version will be orange/yellow, Mk.II will be green, and Mk.III will be blue. The fourth tier, obtainable only from high-level Dark Fog salvage, has the same black-and-teal Tron Lines aesthetics as the Dark Fog itself.
    • Data Matrices come in different colors depending on what they represent. Blue for electromagnetism, red for energy, yellow for structural development, purple for information, green for gravity, and white for solving the mysteries of the universe.

    Tropes D-N 
  • Decapitated Army: Averted with the Dark Fog. You might think that destroying all Space Hives in a system would shut down the Dark Fog's operations in said system, but as long as a Relay Node exists and has enough matter, it can reconstruct the Space Hive fairly quickly. This necessitates the destruction of every last Relay Node in the system in order to stop the Dark Fog's operations.
  • Deflector Shields: There are two types: a small personal shield for Icarus, and planetary shield generators. Planetary shields are able to help protect against Dark Fog attacks - and prevent new relays from landing in their area-of-effect, which create new ground bases - but draw copious amounts of energy to project their barriers and won't block attacks from ground forces already present. Icarus' personal shield expands into a small bubble as you upgrade it through research, allowing it to protect structures and drones close to the mecha from incoming fire.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment:
    • The Dyson sphere - as the name suggests - will always be spherical, but the specific design of the framework is yours to choose. You can make it a perfectly arranged network of triangles, hexagons and similar geometric shapes, you can shape it to look like a soccer ball, or you can just say "screw it" and give it a completely haphazard design. The layout tools are simple but amazingly versatile. That said, it's advisable to keep the number of nodes and beams as low as possible because these components are by far the hardest to produce in bulk, so the more intricate your design gets, the longer it takes to complete.
    • Mecha customization was added in a later update. The system provides near-limitless options to customize every single part of the mecha, but requires fairly advanced knowledge of 3D modeling on the player's part to provide any value whatsoever. If you lack this skill and don't like any of the three available premade options, the editor won't do you much good beyond changing the mecha's color.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Most of the high end production chains.
    • In the early game, you can only get Hydrogen as a by-product of oil cracking, with crude oil turning into two refined oil and one hydrogen for every unit cracked. When you first unlock oil processing, you'll need an obscene amount of hydrogen to produce red science cubes, and oil cracking isn't efficient enough to produce the amount of hydrogen you need to research new technologies. Once you unlock X-Ray Cracking, however, you can take the products of oil cracking and feed them right back into a refinery: one hydrogen and two refined oil turns into three hydrogen and one energetic graphite, which just happens to be the other ingredient for red science. This requires a lot of oil refineries, space, and general setup, but will generally serve well until you need gold science (which requires refined fuel products like plastic and organic crystals). Once you have gold science, however, you're ready to unlock...
    • Orbital Collectors. These are autonomous stations that sit on the equator of a gas giant, up to a maximum of 40 if spaced correctly, where they collect various resources (especially hydrogen, but occasionally deuterium and fire ice as well). With one Orbital Collector and one Interplanetary Logistics Station, you'll be flush with hydrogen for a very long time. Getting there requires a lot of high-end products, and/or quite a few Mining Speed upgrades to offset the initial low rates, but it's well worth the effort.
    • Interplanetary logistics in general. Building an Interplanetary Logistics Station is expensive, as are the transport ships that use it, requiring the reasonably-difficult-to-produce High Strength Titanium Alloy and Magnetic Superconductor Rings in excess, as well as enough power that your entire grid will likely be overloaded from the initial charging phase. But once you have them, you'll be able to import resources and products from across the system, and eventually (once you have a warper production line) from other stars, greatly simplifying or reinforcing your production lines as well as helping for set ups on other planets.
    • Mini Fusion Power Plants. They only run on Deuteron Rods, which require 20 Deuterium, 1 Super-Magnetic Ring, and 1 Titanium Alloy to produce. Building Super-Magnetic Rings is already production-intensivenote , and Titanium Alloy isn't much betternote , but the worst is Deuterium, which requires either Fractionaters for a 1% chance to turn Hydrogen into Deuterium, a nearby-ish Gas Giant that produces Deuterium via Orbital Collectors, or Miniature Particle Accelerators which are extremely energy-hungry. But if you can automate the production of Deuteron Fuel Rods, these power plants will vastly outpace the energy production of anything else you have available, even a Dyson Swarmnote . The Artificial Sun is more complicated to build and fuel, requiring antimatter fuel fods, meaning that once you have enough of a production capacity for Deuteron Fuel Rods, they'll become your go-to method of energy production.
    • The Dyson Sphere itself, of course.
  • Draw Aggro: The Signal Tower is designed specifically to piss off the Dark Fog, and attack a planet with one installed instead of a planet without one. They also increase the range of missile turrets, even to the point that a turret on one side of the planet is able to fire at Dark Fog on the other side.
  • Drone Deployer: Both the Dark Fog and Icarus make copious use of expendable drones to fight each other. Icarus can fight and take damage itself, but is rather fragile and weak (less so with upgrades), and so needs to rely upon drones a lot of the time.
  • Dynamic Loading: The game uses the travel time between planets and stars to discreetly load in the required assets in the background. If you use the fast travel function available in sandbox mode, hopping between planets in the same system is more or less instantaneous, but jumping to a different star system results in a brief delay.
  • Dyson Sphere: Duh. Building a Dyson shell around one of the stars in the cluster is the game's ultimate goal and it makes a simplified yet nonetheless impressive show of what a monumental undertaking this is, both technologically and resource-wise. Before you get to completely encapsulate a star in a rigid shell, you're given the option to establish a Dyson swarm in its orbit as an intermediate stage, with the swarm's constituent solar sails being gradually absorbed into the shell once you start constructing the framework.
  • Emergency Weapon: The mining laser you start with can be used as a weapon if you don't have any ammo. While it starts weak, it has two separate upgrades that upgrades its base damage, and multiplies the base damage. This can make it stronger than any of the ammo you can use, save perhaps the anti-matter capsules.
  • Energy Absorption: Wireless Power Towers let the player's mech drain power directly from a power grid to restore energy to the mech. The Signal Towers introduced in the Rise of the Dark Fog update also include this functionality.
  • Every Bullet is a Tracer:
    • Solar sails fired from EM rail ejectors leave bright-blue trails until they hit their mark. Doesn't make a whole lot of scientific sense, given that there's no atmospheric friction to create the lightshow for most of the way, but it looks damn cool and also makes it a lot easier to get your bearings in space.
    • The basic turret magnetically accelerates bullets that leave bright yellow trails in an impressive display of More Dakka.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Player Character is only ever referred to as "the Engineer".
  • Evil Evolves: When the Dark Fog attacks the player, they gain experience during the fight. Once they get enough experience, they increase the health and damage of their units, the scale of their space hives, and the quality of their item drops. Each base tracks/raises experience separately however, so be careful about completely overwhelming every base you come across - to get high level Dark Fog-only drops, you'll need to let at least one (ground) base stay intact long enough to get what you need. Just bear in mind that any active space hives also learn from what happens planetside in their system, so farming a high-level ground base for too long will eventually result in at least one level 30 space hive to deal with.
  • Excuse Plot: "Mankind needs more power, so go and build a Dyson sphere. There's also some Grey Goo on the loose, so watch out for those guys." That's pretty much the gist of it, but who needs more than that when you get to, y'know, build a flippin' Dyson sphere from scratch?
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: You "win" the game by researching the final technology in the Tech Tree, not by finishing construction of the titular Dyson sphere. Getting to this point requires a lot of energy and resources, but there are many alternative power sources available, so whether or not you bother with the Dyson sphere at all is ultimately irrelevant. That being said, short of repeatedly farming the highest-level Dark Fog for Antimatter, establishing a Dyson Swarm/Shell and Ray Receiver setup is necessary to produce Critical Photons (and from them, Antimatter).
  • Grey Goo: What the Dark Fog is. They're basically the predecessor of the player, where they were supposed to capture energy for Humanity, but eventually went rogue after evolving self-awareness.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Slight example, but the description for the "Magpie" achievement - discover at least 7 rare veins, and mine 10 by hand - doesn't indicate whether it means ten rare materials period, or ten of each rare material. The achievement is unlocked via the latter.
    • With the initial Dark Fog update, there's one addition that's generally only found on accident. In your home system whilst in-flight, you can find an indestructible Dark Fog Communicator, which essentially allows you to modify the Dark Fog's strength and behavior in-game. You can even 'call a truce' by spending metadata, nullifying threat generation for a certain period of time, though this will be voided if you attack them.
  • Hard Mode Perks: Multiple examples.
    • The higher you set the game's difficulty at the start of a new campaign, the more metadata you'll generate from research, which can then be used for various useful things, chief among them to outright skip research projects in future campaigns.
    • The assembler, smelter and matrix lab have Infinity +1 Sword versions that require components that can only be gained by fighting very high-level Dark Fog bases. While it's not too difficult to farm such a base on purpose pretty much indefinitely, doing so will gradually level up any space hives in the system, too, giving you a much harder time trying to clear the system for good later.
    • A simpler example is the size of your Dyson sphere(s). Building the largest sphere possible takes forever and requires ridiculous amounts of resources, but the power output will be so immense as to be practically overkill.
  • High-Tech Hexagons: All over the place, but the most outstanding example is the Dyson shell itself, which is composed of at least a million hexagonal solar sails once complete. The Dark Fog also have hexagonal designs in most of their hives and planetary bases.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Player Character rides in a cute yellow mecha as tall as a fully grown tree. The suit boasts integrated basic manufacturing and research capabilities, giving them all the tools they need to get started. Later upgrades enable it to fly, first in-atmosphere, then between planets and eventually between star systems.
  • Idle Animation: The Icarus mech will do the robot dance, among other things should you not move around for a bit.
  • Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt: Averted. Conveyor belts cannot affect the player's movement in any way.
  • Industrial World: Technically speaking, every world becomes one of these once you start exploiting them, but you can take it up to eleven by paving over the entire surface and covering it in assembly lines from pole to pole. Your starting world will most likely end up looking like this eventually.
  • Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress: When flying through space, you need to use power to change direction or speed. If you run out of power, your maneuverability drops to almost nothing. If you are facing into space you can be stuck flying into interstellar space for hours and might hit the edge of the map before getting near another planet. Beyond waiting a very long time for your natural energy recharge speed - which is miniscule - your only real option is to load a save game and do it better next time.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Studying Dark Fog debris can unlock a handful of production buildings that outperform anything you can research in a campaign without the cranky Grey Goo. The DF smelter works 1.5x as fast as the best standard version, the assembler is twice as fast, and the matrix lab has a whopping 3x speed modifier. The downside? You need to grind planetary bases until they reach certain level thresholds for the required debris components to drop from destroyed DF units, which on default settings can take upwards of 20 real-time hours of uninterrupted fighting to accomplish (less if you happen upon bases that are of a high level from the outset, and/or have cranked the DF exp-gain setting up a bunch pre-game). Crafting these buildings then requires a more or less constant supply of these debris components, so you need to keep these hostile bases alive and in working order if you want to mass-produce the reverse-engineered tech.
  • It's Up to You: Mankind sent one guy/gal to solve the species' impending energy crisis all on their lonesome. Now get to work. Played with later as the devs added a galaxy view, showing many star clusters being worked for energy by other players, but this only functions as a leaderboard, and none of the galaxy progress affects your game.
  • Jack of All Trades: The missile turret can hit ground, air and space targets, and is fairly good at dealing with all targets that enter its range.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Individual missile turrets already fire quite a few missiles in a short time, but the average player will deploy them in bulk to throw walls of missiles at any invading Dark Fog forces. Combine this with Signal Towers, which coordinates every missile turret on-planet, and you'll have a full arsenal unleashed upon anything that so much as looks at you funny.
  • Made of Indestructium: Downplayed. Dark Fog attacks can and will destroy Icarus if you're not careful, but otherwise you can smash face-first into any celestial body (even a black hole) and nothing will happen.
  • Marathon Level: With the currently-limited space battle options, even low-level space hives can take upwards of 10 minutes of uninterrupted fighting to defeat, but given Icarus' constant need of recharging its batteries, you're easily looking at half an hour or more depending on various factors note . And to spice things up even more, if you at any point get too close to the hive so that its heavy laser defenses decide to target Icarus instead of its drones, you'll be dead before you can react and likely lose a significant amount of progress.
  • Meaningful Name: Your name (and the advisor's, Daedalus) is a direct reference to the ancient Greek Daedalus and Icarus myth. Fitting, since the game's Icarus works with stars.
  • Money Multiplier: Well, more like product multiplier, but otherwise fits the trope. Proliferators when combined with a powered Proliferator Sprayer on a conveyor belt apply proliferation onto any products that pass under it. Proliferated products tend to have bonuses applied that results in an extra something, be it additional products (including Proliferators themselves), increased production speed in Smelters/Assemblers, or additional energy generation for fuel rods, though they also increase energy consumption of your buildings by a certain percent in exchange. Additionally, all ingredients have to be doused in order to get the bonus: if a process requires four products but only three get doused, you've wasted the proliferator.
  • More Dakka: One turret firing is just a nuisance to the Dark Fog. A planet wide defense grid of turrets? It'll fire a wall of bullets, a Macross Missile Massacre, a hailstorm of explosive shells, and energy balls of doom which will destroy the Dark Fog's forces.
  • The Most Wanted: The player's threat level dictates the response of the Dark Fog. Initially, the Dark Fog will ignore the player and their factories, but as they expand or attack the Dark Fog directly, the Dark Fog will see the player as a threat and increase the player's threat level accordingly. The player can also adjust the Dark Fog's settings to not attack unless you shoot first (or not even then), or just disable their presence and remain focused upon the base automation experience.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • EM rail ejectors exist to maintain your Dyson swarms and eventually feed the Dyson shell's construction, but their highly visible tracer shots also make for great reference points while flying through space.
    • The description of the Graviton Lens contains this bit: (...) "Usually, we will use it to process and change the spatial structure, but we can expect some one use it to refract the sunlight and ignite fire."
    • Thermal Power Plants are quite useful as an automatic garbage disposal for any fuel byproducts of certain recipes. Most notoriously, hydrogen from oil and fire ice processing.
  • No Ending: Fulfilling the victory condition gets you a standard text box, some praise from the Advisor, and then it's straight back to business. Even if you finished constructing your Dyson shell by this point, which isn't actually required to win, there are many more juicy stars out there. However, once you've won, you can start in a new cluster with access to "metadata" from your previous victory that lets you speed up research rather significantly. The more clusters you've completed, the faster you can complete new clusters.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • Judging by their visual design, the EM rail ejectors are actually coilguns, not railguns.
    • You don't actually need to build a Dyson Sphere to win. Technically, that comes from researching the final Research, appropriately titled "Mission Completed!", though you do at least need to create a Dyson Swarm (or Shell, if going for the No-Solar-Sail Challenge Run) to get a specific resource needed to progress said tech.
    • The Accumulator is a battery. While it can be said to "accumulate" excess electrical power, it's main purpose is to store excess power and discharge it later. However, this is most likely a consequence of the game's original language being Chinese, considering some languages make a distinction between (rechargeable) accumulators and (non-rechargeable) batteries.
  • Not the Intended Use:
    • Battlefield Analysis Bases are primarily meant to be repair stations in case Dark Fog attacks damage your infrastructure. However, this building houses twelve construction drones of it's own - more than Icarus can house until nearly the late-game - which can help speed up construction of larger setups, particularly those set down by blueprints.
    • While the Signal Tower is intended to Draw Aggro and increase the range of Missile Turrets, it can also supply buildings in a 14-meter radius with energy and recharge Icarus in the same radius, making its coverage second only to the Satellite Substation.

    Tropes O-Z 
  • One-Hit Kill: The Dark Fog's heavy laser turrets need only one shot to kill pretty much anything, Icarus included. Fully upgrading the mecha's shield can allow it to tank a small number of shots, but once the shield is down, the next hit will be fatal. These things are the main reason you can (at present) only fight indirectly via drone spam instead of taking a more active role on the battlefield. On the flipside, the player's Plasma Turrets (both anti-ground ant anti-space) can be loaded with anti-matter capsules. These capsules are strong enough to instantly turn any Dark Fog unit into scrap metal.
  • One-Product Planet: A handful of planets have a resource mix that simply doesn't allow the production of more than one, or maybe two products in any amount worth mentioning. The upside is that their main resources are usually extremely abundant, often enough to supply the entire solar system on their own twice over.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The devs seem to really like this one.
    • The title image contrasts the vibrant blue of a factory-covered planet with the orange glow of a partially encased star.
    • Solar sails on a trajectory to an orbit of a Dyson swarm are blue, while in orbit of a Dyson swarm they glow orange. They switch back to blue the moment they start being absorbed into the shell proper.
    • Active EM rail ejectors glow blue, inactive ones orange.
  • Planetary Core Manipulation: Planetside Dark Fog bases generate power and construction materials by drawing both directly from the planetary mantle. Destroying such a base leaves a gaping, lava-glowing hole in the ground that, if you build a geothermal power plant over it, generates over 300% of its base power output.
  • Plasma Cannon: Plasma turrets are an endgame defense solution primarily designed for surface-to-orbit duty. They deal massive damage from the get-go and can be loaded with Antimatter ammunition that instakills just about anything the Dark Fog can throw at you, provided you have the means to manufacture it in bulk.
  • Power at a Price: Higher-tier production buildings are usually 50% faster than the tier below, but consume twice the amount of power, meaning the more basic versions are actually more efficient. Depending on your available building-space-to-power ratio, extending a production line with more low-tier buildings can therefore be a better solution than upgrading the existing ones to a higher tier.
  • Power Glows:
    • Research, the basis of your entire mission, takes the physical shape of brightly glowing cubes in various colors. The labs that manufacture them can be seen from beyond the horizon while active thanks to the glow.
    • Various other active buildings also glow, particularly thermal generators, oil refineries, and chemical plants.
    • The Dark Fog's structures and units have glowing Tron Lines that disappear if the structure runs out of power.
  • The Power of the Sun: Artificial Stars are the endgame power plant, and rely on antimatter fuel cells to power themselves. While expensive to maintain, they are the most efficient power to space ratio building in the game, beating a gravity lens boosted ray receiver by just under 2.5x.
  • Power Source: Fusion power plants are the second-most advanced generators in the game, topped only by Artificial Stars. The deuteron/antimatter fuel rods they consume are also one of the best power sources for the mecha.
  • Powered by a Black Hole: Dyson spheres, which were originally conceived as solar energy collectors, can be built around black holes in this game if the player chooses. They won't provide much power generation, given how they have very low luminosity, but it can be done.
  • Procedural Generation: A seed-based system is used to procedurally generate clusters of up to 64 stellar objects (stars and black holes) to play in. So far, the number of stars and the amount of available resources can be adjusted, with more options likely to be introduced as development continues. As of time of writing, seeds can range from 00000000 to 99999999, which means that 100 million different clusters can be generated. note  This site provides a list of noteworthy seeds that players have found, including a list of thirteen seeds that will generate clusters with ten O-Type stars if set to 64 star systems in the cluster.
  • Quality over Quantity: The self-replicating Dark Fog can churn out so many units in such a short time that trying to out-zerg the Zerg Rush is impossible. Icarus' drones are therefore much less numerous but individually more powerful to make up for it. Late-game battles regularly see a couple dozen Icarus drones going up against thousands of enemies.
  • Randomly Drops: As you defeat Dark Fog ships, they sometimes drop resources that Icarus can stockpile/make use of, whether manually collected or automatically via a base in the area. Initially it starts with Soil Pile to make placing Foundations easier, but at certain levels of waves (and above), they start dropping Silicon and Titanium Ingots - which are never on your starter planet, period - a special fuel that boosts Icarus's replicator speed, and more. At the highest levels, rare materials allow you to create better versions of certain high-tier buildings that you otherwise wouldn't have access to.
  • Rate-Limited Perpetual Resource:
    • Most resource nodes are finite but their rate of extraction is only limited by how many miner modules you can put around them. Crude Oil nodes never run out but can only accept a single extractor per node. This was then subverted in a patch that put Crude Oil nodes under diminishing returns. The node will technically never run out but after some time it will produce oil so slowly as to be impractical.
    • Resources mined from gas giants (oxygen, deuterium and fire ice) are infinite but each gas giant is limited to 40 extractors that have extract each resource at a fixed rate.
  • Refining Resources: A major part of the gameplay is refining the raw resources mined from mineral nodes into the materials and components you need to craft more advanced stuff.
  • Rule of Cool:
    • This game exists to allow the player to turn one of the most awesome concepts in all of science fiction into reality all by themselves. Is it even remotely plausible? Nope. Is it mind-bogglingly cool? Hell yes!
    • Giant planet-bound coilgun turrets probably aren't the most reliable method for transporting solar sails into a Dyson sphere's construction orbit, but damn if the Beam Spam doesn't look cool.
  • Scenery Porn: The game is very pretty to look at no matter where you are or what you're currently doing, but the awesomeness really kicks into gear once you start launching Dyson swarms/constructing the actual Dyson shell, or when you're piloting Icarus right next to a neutron star or black hole.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Mostly averted. The game takes some liberties with distances and planet size for the sake of gameplay convenience, but the units of measurement are both appropriate and accurate, and the mere fact that you can exploit up to 64 star systems with multiple planets/millions of resources each shows that the devs are well aware of the gargantuan effort required to construct a stellar megastructure like a Dyson shell.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The EM rail ejectors look suspiciously similar to the warship-mounted railgun that blows Devastator off the Giza pyramids in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen.
    • The grey, dull-metallic texture of foundations has prompted immediate comparisons with the Death Star, to the point that some players couldn't resist plonking down a lone ray receiver somewhere as a stand-in for the battle station's iconic super-laser dish.
    • Since they were added, some of the game's Achievements reference various bits, mainly from fictional shows but also the occasional famous IRL quote:
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The game includes a remarkably intricate and realistic system to simulate celestial mechanics.
      • Planets orbit around their star and even each other constantly, entering summer and winter phases as their distance to their sun changes. This can have considerable impact on solar power generation if the planet has a highly elliptical orbit.
      • Worlds with a tilted rotational axis have one of their poles constantly facing the sun, making these spots ideally suited for solar panels, EM rail ejectors to shoot solar sails, and ray receivers (which work best when they continuously have line-of-sight with the star).
      • Wind turbines are less efficient on worlds with thin atmosphere. Solar panels lose or gain efficiency depending on the planet's position in the solar system - the closer to the sun, the more solar power.
      • All celestial objects have gravitational pull. Taking off into space is not a big deal once you have the technology, but reaching escape velocity draws a lot of power from the mecha's core, as does every course correction during the trip. Getting too close to planets or stars while in transit will drag the mecha off course, potentially causing it to crash-land on that planet instead of where you wanted to go. It may also slow the mecha down or, if used correctly, increase its speed if you manage to perform a slingshot maneuvre. Last but not least, missing your target planet usually means you end up hurtling off into deep space because only a late-game mecha has enough power reserves to turn around and try again.
      • A star's position in the main sequence heavily affects the types of planets in their system. G-class stars like our Sun are the most likely to spawn temperate worlds, with the neighboring F- and K-class stars being next in line, with all three also generally having the highest planet counts. The more exotic the stars get though, the higher the chance of their planets spawning with rare resource deposits, at the cost of regular and especially organic resources becoming less abundant, along with the lowest planet counts.
    • The warp drive is powered by a special fuel that contains strange matter. Certain real-world theories concerning the development of actual warp drive technology posit strange matter as a possible source of the required negative energy, which the item description also mentions.
    • In real life, a solid Dyson sphere as opposed to a swarm would be dynamically unstable in the star's gravitational field, which is why you need gravity manipulation technology represented by (a lot of) green gravity matrix science cubes to start building one.
  • The Siege: The Dark Fog runs on an internal resource economy that depends on the matter that planetary bases extract from the planet's core. The bases in turn can't do anything without the energy that is provided by the hives. If you find yourself unable to overcome a base's defenses, it's a viable tactic to besiege the former with turrets until it runs out of resources, at which point it becomes practically helpless (and the same is true of a planet-deprived space hive, though its reserves are much greater).
  • Sighted Guns Are Low-Tech: Amusingly inverted by the EM rail ejectors, which have holographic sights on top of the barrel despite being fully automated gun turrets.
  • Simple, yet Awesome:
    • Solar panels are one of the early-game renewable power sources. They're relatively cheap and easy to mass-produce, and unlike wind turbines can be placed in direct contact with each other, letting you squeeze a lot of them into any given space. Installing a ring or three of solar panels around a planet's equator is a bit tedious, but looks awesome and generates enough constant power that you won't have to worry about it again until well into the late game. It even works decently well on outer planets that don't get a lot of sunlight. The only drawback is the requirement of High-Purity Silicon, which is production intensive.
    • On planets with high wind power (at/higher than 100%), a ring of wind turbines around the latitudinal or longitudinal axis, or both, will provide enough power to bootstrap multiple production and refining processes, as well as providing a handy visual reference for navigating the surface. This works especially well on ice planets, which have few to no interruptions from oceans or chasms. The inexpensive production requirements for wind turbines means even planets without a bonus can benefit from thisnote .
    • On lava planets, Geothermal Power Stations gather the heat from lava rivers and converts it into energy, though like wind turbines they do need some spacing between each other. Simple enough, but what makes them awesome is that the Geothermal's base output is nearly ten times that of solar and wind's base power. With enough stations placed, you'll never need to worry about energy on lava planets until the very late game, if even then, and it also makes them prime candidates for large-scale Energy Exchanger setups.
    • Fractionator loops. The Fractionator takes in hydrogen, processes it, and dumps it out. Every 100 hydrogen units processed, it produces one deuterium. This is incredibly inefficient, obviously, but the hydrogen that comes out can be reprocessed. As a result, setting up a loop where hydrogen passes through several or a dozen fractionators before going back to the start and passing through again, while separating out the inevitable deuterium, guarantees that you'll have a constantly supply of deuterium, at a lesser energy cost than a miniature particle accelerator, and with less research required (though you'll need to add more hydrogen every so often). The only downside is that fractionator loops require a lot of space, and the miniature particle accelerator is faster to produce deuterium/burn through hydrogen.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Every planet in the cluster tends to only one biome. You start out on a temperate earthlike world with plenty of basic resources, but some like titanium can only be found off-world on lava planets or ice planets, and special resources like fire ice are mainly harvested from gas giants (but can also rarely be found on certain planets). Many more planet types exist, each with their own unique properties and resources.
  • The Singularity: The game's Excuse Plot hinges on mankind having evolved into a purely data-based species/society that only exists in cyberspace. It's heavily implied that the Engineer isn't a physical being but merely a digital mind uploaded into a mech suit, which also neatly hand-waves why they aren't bothered at all by any of the environmental and technological hazards in the cluster.
  • Space Elevator: Dark Fog bases stretch from the ground up into a planet's lower orbit, requiring anti-space turrets like the missile or plasma turret.
  • Space Is Noisy: Mostly averted. All sound effects go silent the moment you break atmosphere. Even the ambient music gets muted until the flying-through-space music kicks in.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Most machines, particularly the more advanced ones, have at least one major component that spins constantly while the machine is running.
  • Splash Damage: Implosion Cannon turrets can absolutely decimate groups of Dark Fog ground units. Plasma turrets meanwhile can wipe out Dark Fog space swarms if they dare approach. Dark Fog Lancers can also damage multiple buildings, and even their own units! Baiting them into destroying a Dark Fog planetary base is an achievement.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: The intro sequence shows this happening to entire star clusters thanks to the Dark Fog as a way of highlighting its threat level. In practice though, they're not literally destroying stars; it's more that any Engineers sent to said clusters tend to stop broadcasting, having been killed at the hands of the Dark Fog, who then take over the clusters and cut them off from the Centrebrain.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: The mecha automatically switches to hover mode when it's told to walk into deeper liquids. Crash-landing in an ocean from high orbit just makes it pop right back out on its own. However...
  • Super Mode: Turrets can enter a "Supernova" mode, which causes them to dramatically increase their fire rate for a short bit, but it draws ALOT of energy to do so. Supernova mode should generally only be reserved for key turrets, or on fortress worlds.
  • Super-Toughness: For the sake of gameplay convenience, the PC's mech is completely invulnerable to anything but Dark Fog attacks. It can slam into planets at Mach 6 speed, submerge itself in lava, fly right up to a sun without being melted, execute maneuvers that would snap any modern day plane in half, fly into/around a black hole without becoming spaghettified, etc.
  • Tower Defense: The game's combat system basically works like this, with enemy bases regularly sending waves of units at you that you must defend against with well-positioned and well-supplied automated turrets. Counterattacking these bases is usually done with the help of combat drones, but these are fairly ineffective in the early-to-mid game, at which point it's usually better to turret-creep your way across the planet until nothing shoots back anymore. Progressing through the Tech Tree unlocks more and more powerful turrets to keep up with the Dark Fog's escalating threat level.
  • Tron Lines: Dark Fog assets have a very dark grey as their base color and glowing teal lines all over. The latter go dark on any Dark Fog structure that loses power for one reason or another. If you manage to reverse-engineer DF tech, the resulting buildings retain the Fog's coloration.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • There's currently no way to restore bodies of water that were filled in with foundations, but water is a vital component in some pivotal mid-game recipes. If you somehow managed to pave over your entire starter planet before researching the upgrades necessary to travel to other worlds, you're screwed. This is unlikely, however, both because of the insane amount of resources you'd need to craft so much foundation space in the early-to-mid game, and because it's simply not necessary to cover the whole planet that early on, no matter how messy your initial factory setup gets.
    • When flying through space, if you are unlucky enough to run out of energy and neither have no fuel in your mecha nor any reserve fuel, you can become stuck hurtling through space helplessly. If this happens when you overshoot your destination, you may as well need to reload your last autosave, if you had it set in the first place. Better hope you have a save on-planet to reload.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: Downplayed. Most cluster seeds spawn a single black hole system somewhere. Their design takes cues from what scientists currently assume black holes to look like, but their spherical nature can often only be seen from specific angles, so most of the time they look more like the numerous unrealistic depictions in fiction. You can also pilot your mech straight into one and back out without problems.
  • Variable Mix: The tracks that play planetside tend to change based off of how much of the planet is covered in machinery, with more relaxed tracks playing on barren worlds, and more uplifting enthusiastic tracks playing when in the thick of multiple assembly lines. The tracks themselves also tend to vary between planet type, from the common ones being similar to a few unique tracks playing for the rarest types, such as the black hole and neutron star systems. Once you begin assembling the Dyson swarm/shell, the tracks will also change to reflect your progress.
  • Victory by Endurance: This is how you're encouraged to win against the Dark Fog. Normally, their hives are VERY dangerous, as even low level ones can put up quite a fight against a late game player. However they have a weakness in their logistics: space hives require matter to build their infrastructure which is acquired by planet side bases, and conversely the planet side bases require energy provided from the space hives. If you can destroy one before the other in-system, the other essentially becomes "starved" and easy pickings for you, no longer being able to rebuild destroyed buildings, build new units, or regenerate health once they've used up their reserves. Fully covering all planets in-system with planetary shields will also (mostly) future-proof that system, as while a new hive can still enter the system, they'll be unable to send down relays and thus grow into a real threat.
  • The Virus: About 25-30 hours into a campaign, powerful Dark Fog hives in the cluster will start dispatching seed ships to unoccupied star systems. These seeds travel slowly (~1.200m/s, meaning they usually take several hours to reach their target), but when they arrive they proceed to establish new hives, and from there new planetary bases all over the system. If you let this go on for too long, the entire cluster can eventually end up infested with the Dark Fog, and every time you clear a system, at least one new seed is immediately dispatched to re-infest it. Thankfully, the seeds themselves show up on the cluster map and are unarmed and unprotected aside from a massive health pool, so intercepting them en route is a safe and viable tactic.
  • Wave-Motion Tuning Fork: The EM rail ejectors are of the horizontal type, with massive lightning discharges crackling between the two prongs every time they fire.
  • We Have Reserves: The Dark Fog doesn't care how many drones it loses, and neither should you. Attrition rates can reach dozens of units per second in massive battles, especially in space, so make sure you always have at least a couple hundred backup drones in your inventory before attacking a space hive.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: You have an entire cluster of up to 64 stars to explore, each with at least one unique planet orbiting it. Gaining space flight capability marks the start of the midgame, which doesn't take all that long to achieve. Flying to other stars is intended to be done through warping, a late-game technology, but nothing's stopping you from making the trip with your mecha's cruise engines; it just takes a bit longer. There's also nothing forcing you to proceed with the Dyson shell construction other than maybe your factory's power requirements and/or a certain achievement. Want to watch your EM ejectors dot the sky with thousands of sparkling solar sails for hours? Go right ahead.
  • A Winner Is You: As of alpha, you get a little text box, a short triumphant jingle, and your advisor congratulating you for your job well done. And then you can carry on doing whatever you want to do.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: As is typical in a game focused on production and logistics, you'll spend a lot of time looking for the bottlenecks in your production lines and trying to alleviate or remove them entirely, such as Hydrogen in the mid-to-late game.
  • Zerg Rush: Individual Dark Fog units aren't much of a threat, but there's never just one. Late-game battles usually involve hundreds, if not thousands of enemies bearing down on you at once.

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