I picked up this game for two main reasons: first, I've really enjoyed Dice Hate Me's other games, Carnival and VivaJava; and second, I wanted to check out the quality of what comes from The Game Crafter, as I've been thinking of using them for prototyping. So since there weren't any other reviews of this game, here's my two cents!
Components and Quality
The game arrived in less than a week, and I admit I was slightly disappointed to get the generic Game Crafter box, but on the other hand, I imagine that was to keep costs down, and it was quite inexpensive for POD. I neglected to snap a picture, but the cards and components come in plastic bags in a box that is roughly 1x1 (and much larger than needed) and has the Game Crafter logo on it. One thing I immediately realized was that the game fit perfectly in the box I had sitting empty for a Sentinels of the Multiverse expansion (the box unneeded since the expansion cards fit in the base set box). That's what's pictured below, NOT the box it originally came in.
The components are good quality for a POD game (better than I could make on my own with PnP, that's for sure). The cards are a thick cardstock rather than playing card thickness, about the same as Dominion cards. It also comes with five die in different colors, as well as markers and little rocket ships for your playing pieces. The rules document is well laid out and pretty easy to understand.
Setup and Gameplay
Setup is pretty simple - there's a set of cards that you shuffle and then set out in a 5x5 grid. (Note that these are the cards that have the Pulsar log in dark blue on the back. There are other cards with the same front images, but those are not part of the game board.) You then place decks of "sample" and "hub" cards on top of the appropriate spaces on the game board. And every player chooses a scientist for their character that has a slightly different power.
The game mechanics are simple as well: Roll the dice to move different directions on the board (e.g., two spaces diagonal, or one space orthogonal, etc.). The objective of the game is to gather samples from all of the planets on the board, and get them back to your home planet (the same color as your ship) to convert into Concentrate. Whoever gets all six first wins. So most of the game consists of moving your pieces around the board in an attempt to get to different planets. Occasionally you will bump into the other player(s), causing them to go off course, or you hit a hub where you get a card representing another scientist who can help (or sometimes not help) you. The round markers are for keeping track of points that you can use to re-roll die.
This is definitely not a complicated game, or one that employs an abundance of strategy, but for something quick and simple I think that it's a compact and well thought out design. Not terribly exciting, so I think that I would recommend it most for kids, especially those who are just getting into strategy games but are up for starting on something simple. It's easy to learn and the character graphics are super cute, and it's in SPACE. This could be a fun one to play WITH your kids.
Also, Chris of Dice Hate Me has said that they might be coming out with "advanced" rules for this, which I think might be really neat. There are definitely some more complicated things that you could do with the mechanics.