Yes you are right about the map - there is some island location swapping, but its still the same islands. I saw you gave it 3/5, in your review; way to generous if you ask me. C'mon the game is not in a finished state.
Well it's still randomization so you can't just remember where the islands got moved to after your captain dies.
Going by your logic FTL or Diablo 2 are not random because shape aside you meet the exact same enemies in more or less the exact same numbers (LoD changed it a bit by introducing "immigrant" monsters from other chapters from time to time).
Anyway i gave it a 3/5 (probably should give it 2/5 now that i think of it) because after some stumbling and bumbling i understood the premise. They want you to explore going further out with every trip (terror actually matters once you are very far east) but that idea is strangled by the low income that was meant to make you explore in the first place.
There is a pretty easy solution to that as all they need to do is increase the ammount of echos you get for ferrying goods (one of the ships is a merchantman dammit! why is it so useless!?) and delivering port reports and there you go! The game would jump in my book from 2-3 stars to 5.
It's horribly unbalanced but not utterly terrible and remains playable altho i must admit if you don't mind losing the victorian steampunk cthulhu theme Space Rangers (any of the series) of Starsector are far superior games right now.
Oh well - i think FTL is a lot more random. You never know whats going to happen :P Also FTL
I disagree with the horror - i explored the whole map and eaten my crew etc. Had the horror at 100 a long time. Just return to London to get it down to 50 then rest a bit etc.
Anyways - agree with you wrt. to echo. More echo in general will make the game more fun - especially when you go to the other end of the world. Right now there is no reward for high risk. Im sorry i really think they suck at game design part - the text is great but the game is just not fun. I need a potential reward for doing crazy shit. Ive been everywhere - its boring and, no motherload. No real challenge - just grind. :)
I've enjoyed the game quite a bit in the opening hours of play. It's a tough game and I have definitely failed (and learned by failing), but I like the early game focus of small margins and barely scraping by. It's a tenuous prospect, sailing the Unterzee, but that's right up my alley.
I would recommend this game to anyone who loves story and atmosphere and is less concerned with combat mechanics. Combat feels like somewhat of an afterthought - I often find myself running more often than fighting, which is fine in a merchant/smuggling game.
To answer the initial question, I don't think RNG overwhelms the game at all.
No offence but - how long have you played? :) There is almost no profit in trade and i can count the smuggling missions on one hand. Yes the first 100 minutes of gameplay is fun...