|You're about to suck void, buddy.|
- Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
- Developer: Double Damage Games
- Publisher: Double Damage Games
- Release Date: 20 October 2015
- Time played: 30+ hours
I love sci-fi games, especially if they're space trading games in the same vein as classics like Frontier: Elite II, Wing Commander: Privateer or Freelancer, so when I saw that there was a new space trading game with a fantastic soundtrack to boot, my mind started flying into space in the Giggle Galaxy...
Wait.. what? No. Sorry, too much time spent watching Australian children's TV.
Anyway, the icing on the cake is that the developers behind this game are the same guys that developed the critically acclaimed Torchlight games (Choicest Games reviewed Torchlight 2 back in 2013 and gave it an 8/10).
I also want to thank my mates who happened to purchase this game for my birthday - otherwise, I probably wouldn't have got a chance to play it - so thanks guys!
What I like:
MusicThe soundtrack is definitely the game's forte and it sounds like it's been inspired by music in the adored Space Western TV series "Firefly". It also sounds similar to music I've heard in the game Full Throttle (the licensed music in the game was performed by the Gone Jackals) and Starcraft II.
Blues Saraceno, The Blue News, Abbas Premjee and several more artists lend their talents to the soundtrack which is a mix of blues, blues rock and hard rock - and it's all friggin' amazing. In fact, I may have very well bought this game on the soundtrack alone... just sayin'.
Inspired by Freelancer and FireflyIf you've played Freelancer or any other space trading game such as Wing Commander: Privateer, Privateer 2 or Frontier: Elite II, you'll feel quite at home in Rebel Galaxy since it's actually very similar to these games in many regards. Just like Freelancer, you don't need a joystick in order to control your craft (in fact I think the ideal setup is just a mouse and keyboard) and the game is all about trading, smuggling, piracy and/or bounty hunting, whatever takes your fancy; the game is basically a modern take on the single-player component of Freelancer. There's also a main storyline you can complete but you can generally take the game at your own pace and explore the many space stations and star systems at your leisure. The game also contains a few nods to Wing Commander: Privateer, such as the inclusion of a Mercenaries' Guild and Merchant's Guild; there's even a re-used taunt: "You're about to suck void, buddy!"
The game also has a Space Western feel similar to shows like "Firefly" or "Cowboy Bebop" where space is very much the final frontier.
Threat Level systemThe game contains a threat level system that gives you a rough indication of how tough a battle will be depending on which ships are in your vicinity. I personally love it; more games should have this as it reminds me of how in oldschool RPGs you could investigate/examine monsters to determine how difficult the ensuing battles would be. It makes the game more realistic to a degree in that you can scope whether a battle is worth fighting or whether living to fight another day is the prudent decision. It even applies at a star system and mission level too, giving you a rough indication on whether you're ready to move on to a new star system or the next mission respectively. I prefer it to the usual save-attack-die-restore-avoid approach you'd usually find in a majority of games (although admittedly I had to resort to this behaviour a couple of times).
Steam achievementsThank God for Steam achievements as they actually helped to keep my interest in the game during the slow patches where I was doing a lot of grinding (more on that later). Most are pretty easy to get too (provided you invest the time and in-game money).
What I dislike:
Broadsides in SPAAAAACELook. I eventually got used to this, so it's not as bad as I initially thought, yet it's still weird... broadsides? In space? The reason I say it's not as bad as I originally thought is because the game is played on a 2D plane instead of the traditional 3D playing field you get in just about every other space trading game where broadsides would have very limited usefulness. However, thanks to the introduction of the 2D plane (probably to make broadsides useful) your ship now keeps crashing into things like asteroids (which wouldn't be a problem if you could fly over them) and you occasionally get useless camera angles where you can't actually see where you're aiming because your ship obscures the view.
Too much sandbox?There's a reason I associate this game with Elite: Dangerous later on in the review and that's because like the game by David Braben, Rebel Galaxy may be accused of relying too much on the sandbox. What I mean is that most of the game just involves doing the same procedurally generated, random content and to some, this can get kind of boring.
Unlike Elite: Dangerous, Rebel Galaxy at least has a main campaign with a storyline, however it's admittedly a pretty weak throwaway plot with most of the focus placed on the sandbox part of the game instead.
GrindyAlso like Elite: Dangerous, the game can be a bit of a grind if you're trying to save up for new components or new ships. While you don't need to save up for the best ship in the game, you will need to keep upgrading your ships if you want to branch off into other star systems as you will come across larger and beefier ships to fight with.
If you're content to take the game at your own pace though and just pop in every night to do a few missions to slowly work towards saving for a new ship, then this really isn't an issue.
Copy and paste character modelsThis isn't a major dislike, since previous space trading games are just as guilty of this, but sometimes you feel like they could've taken a bit more effort in making at least the characters in the main campaign look different to generic NPCs (I'm looking at you Militia Captain What's-her-face - yes, I don't remember the character's name and believe it or not there are no playthroughs out there on the interwebs for me to confirm the name either!)
Occasional graphical glitchesI'm not sure if it's an issue with my video card specifically or ATI cards but I occasionally observed some graphical glitches whilst talking to NPCs. Not a game-breaking bug but still annoying.
Can't land on planetsOne feature I loved in the old Privateer games and even Freelancer was the ability to actually land on planets. You can't do this in Rebel Galaxy. All you can do is dock at stations.
Bad Australian AccentNo, we don't say "G'day" here in Australia when we're saying goodbye to someone.
Score – 7/10 (Good)If you're looking for a modern take on classic space trading game Freelancer (and don't mind that it's just single-player), then Rebel Galaxy is probably going to be the closest you'll get. Coupled with a fantastic blues/rock soundtrack and a "Firefly"-like galaxy to explore, there's a lot to like in this game. If it weren't for the grind, ho-hum story and some other minor issues, the game would've been highly recommended.
Is the game worth $19.99 USD?: Yes. With the current exchange rate, that’s about $28 and considering it took me about 30 hours to finish the main campaign (without really hunting for all achievements or purchasing the larger ships), it's a fair price.
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[ LINK: Official Rebel Galaxy Website ]