It strikes me at times, that it really doesn’t take the infinite resources of a multi-million (billion?) dollar producer to create something genuinely great. One such example is Rebel Galaxy, created by the masterminds behind the ever-popular Torchlight series, Travis Baldree and Erich Schaefer.
Travis and Erich have once again teamed up under the banner of their newly founded Double Damage Games to bring us a rather unique and inspired mix of science fiction space exploration and high seas pirating (cosmic seas count right?), with a distinct “Wild West” tone to wrap it all up nicely. The Rebel Galaxy universe is crafted in such a way as to instill a very real sense that we’re living on the frontier, among the stars. From the varying array of individual alien species and the husks of long dead ships floating in a vast field of decaying hulks slowly being picked clean of all valuables by vulture like pirates and outlaws, to the “every man for himself” attitude exuded by just about every character you happen across. Rebel Galaxy is the gun toting tobacco chewing Wild West of the science fiction genre, and its fantastic.
Mechanically Rebel Galaxy is simple but incredibly rewarding to handle. The game play exists on what is ostensibly a two dimensional plane, with the player only able to move on the X and Y axis (basically forward, backwards and side to side), in much the same manner you would expect to control a seafaring ship. However, the game is set in a three dimensional world, and smaller enemy fighters can certainly make use of this, creating something very close to the type of large scale space combat we’re more accustomed to witnessing in movies and television shows such as Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica.
The combat is again simple in nature but has enough nuance to allow the player the required agency to affect the outcomes via skill and not necessarily by simply over powering an enemy. How ever such thing certainly do not come easily. Combat control is split into two segments, primarily you will be lining up alongside the oppositions largest ship, be it a Corvette or a battleship and opening fire with your broadside firepower, the guns are able to be controlled individually for greater accuracy in a very similar manner to that in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag.
As well as using your broadside guns, most all the ships available come equipped with both turret slots and an ordinance slot to which you can allocate missiles or torpedoes. The turrets themselves are able to automatically fire on enemy ships allowing the player time to focus on the major threat with the high powered broadsides, with a reasonably in depth system allowing the player to give an even more detailed control over exactly where they want those turrets laying down the fire. Should it come to it however, with a quick flick of the directional pad, those turrets are completely under your own manual control.
Mission structure within Rebel Galaxy is what we have come to expect from action RPGs and more recently MMO’s whereby you enter a city or in this case a space station and approach characters to continue the narrative, or there is the option of visiting the local watering hole to see what odd jobs you can pick up. The side missions seemingly consist of fairly run of the mill collect this or kill that, but they are done so in a non-aggravating manner, they don’t outstay their welcome and are entertaining to complete.
A nice addition to Rebel Galaxy is the ability to trade commodities between station for a few extra credits to spend upgrading your battleship or indeed to purchase a bigger, better hull. It’s a feature usually reserve for 4X games such as… well X (X3: Reunion) and others such as the Elite series of space faring simulators.
With the inclusion such a feature, it also seems fitting that piracy also exists within the Rebel Galaxy universe, with either option open to the player. Be careful though, your choices do have an impact on the wider community around you. Attack too many traders and you might find yourself being hunted down by the local authorities… ask me how I know…
Overall, or as far as I can tell from the playable teaser Double Damage has released thus far, Rebel Galaxy looks to be a sturdy addition the library for any fan of the duo’s previous work, or indeed any of you with a taste for space combat or trading.
The game is solid, sound track mind blowing, combat rewarding and the character interactions engrossing. I would absolutely be keeping an eye out for Rebel Galaxy, thus far touted for a release “sometime this year”.