Whenever a game claims to twist an existing game mechanic into something new and original, I am initially skeptical. There are many studios that simply re-skin an existing game in order to try to make a quick buck. However, Space Run Galaxy holds true to their claim. A sequel to their previous game, Passtech Games' Space Run Galaxy sizes up to be a fresh take on a familiar style.
Developed by: Passtech Games
Published by: Focus Home Interactive
Released on Steam on June 17th.
This game is available on Steam for $19.99.
Available in English
So what is this game? Available on Steam June 17th, Space Run Galaxy is a visually appealing tower defense game with a unique twist. Instead of the standard TD formula of setting up a series of defenses along a winding path, players will take command of a hexagonal spaceship tasked with delivering cargo throughout the galaxy. You ship is highly modular as you’re able to place guns, shields, and extra engines all over it during each mission. Along the way, you’ll make connections with other potential employers willing to pay for your specialized services. There is even an online aspect where you can request assistance from your friends and make some extra money moving cargo for them.
The game plays much like a standard tower defense game with a few exceptions. Each “Run” you’ll load up your ship with the cargo you need to transport and set off. Each hexagonal segment of your spaceship can have a module installed so you have a lot of opportunity for strategy. Your vessel passively earns scrap to build these modules and more is earned by shooting down asteroids and enemy ships. This right there sold me, as any game that gives you money by blowing up rocks in space is A-OK with me. Your ship’s speed also generates energy which you can use to briefly supercharge one of your installments.
Galaxy Map and Missions
The Galaxy Map shows you where you are in the universe and also acts as a mission select screen. Each location has its own set of shops and upgrade stations, meaning you won’t be able to buy or upgrade everything at every destination. A web of travel paths connect each location and you can quickly plot out courses. You are also able to instantly fast travel to any previous location, but cargo cannot be transported this way. This is very helpful at times, as it allows you to return to distant areas of the map without having to go through a mission to do so.
Each mission typically revolves around the transportation of cargo from one location to another. Occasionally, destinations will be more than a single station away and you will have to carry your cargo on multiple trips. Cargo you don’t take with you will remain behind until you return for it later.
When you reach your destination, you are paid based on how much of the cargo made it in one piece and how quickly you completed the mission. Your employers will also give you building materials, which you can use to make additional installments for your ship or to simply make it bigger allowing you more placement options during runs.
Combat and Enemies
Another exhilarating aspect is how the game treats traditional defense waves differently. In Space Run Galaxy, you are the target of all hostiles. During a run, indicators will pop up from all sides to alert you of incoming danger. Pirate ships, ravenous aliens, and asteroids will seek you out and if you don’t shoot them down in time, your ship might become much smaller. There are also other cargo hips that sometimes fly parallel to you, and while they don’t present any threat, blasting them to pieces earns you some sweet bonus scrap.
Some levels might have advanced enemies or bosses, which adds a whole new level of difficulty to the game. While you ward off the frequent dangers of space, you will also need to be sufficiently prepared for when these bosses appear. If your ship can’t properly defend against these leviathans, your mission will surely suffer.
Weapons and Modules
You start every run with only a single engine and the cargo you are transporting. Waves start coming soon, so you need to quickly decide what you want to build and where. You have many options regarding defense and unlock more advanced modules as your progress increases. For straight weaponry, you have simple lasers, missle launchers, and duel cannons that can switch firing modes on the fly. For utility, you have rotating plasma cannons with lifesteal, additional engines for increased speed, and repairing modules that heal nearby installments. There are also several utility modules, including a shield generator that can protect adjacent modules, an ion cannon with a chain damage effect, and an anti-missile radar that can shoot down incoming projectiles before they damage your vessel.
Each installment has a primary function that can become stronger by building upgrade modules. Each upgrade module will boost the power of all adjacent installments of the same type. This can be pretty awesome, as a single upgrade can drastically increase the power of something you’ve built. You can also spend some of the energy your ship has generated to use a module’s special function. This varies from module to module, but can range from sweeping lasers, concentrated beams, and instant burst damage. If used stregically, these boosts can drastically turn the tide of a mission.
While the game is very fun, it also still has some downsides. Since the waves come from every direction, you are always at a disadvantage from rear assaults as engines can only be placed on the back of your ship. That mean the space at the back of your vessel is even more precious and valuable. If a level has a lot of enemies coming from behind, it will be difficult get a high score since you’ll need to sacrifice speed for defense. However, these moments can be quite fun as you attempt to balance offense and defense.
Additionally, you can restart a mission at any time with no consequences. With such a huge handicap, I found myself instantly restarting a level if things weren’t going perfect from the start or if I didn’t like where the first wave came from. Waves also sometimes feel too random which makes it hard to optimize a build. You somewhat always feel like you're trying to adapt rather than plan. In traditionally tower defense games, the enemy's path is always present and you can plan accordingly. In Space Run Galaxy, hostiles can come from any direction, which hampers forethought. If you've built a ship that is designed to maximize frontward offense, you might be screwed if a level throws enemies at you from a different direction.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO
The visual ascetic of this game is very strong. All of the backgrounds are detailed space landscapes that scroll along behind your vessel. The different planets and systems you’ll travel to have their own unique style and feel. On top of that, the effects present on all the weapon effects are out of this world. I felt a rush of excitement each time one of my lasers managed to blast an enemy ship into a million pieces. One of the only negatives about the graphics is that it becomes slightly difficult to distinguish the different pieces of your ship once you start to place modules next to each other. However, you can quickly zoom in and out of the scene at any time, so if something is unclear, you can quickly figure it out.
The audio and sounds for this game are also rather engaging. All the sounds in the game match their visual component perfectly, be it the ambient battle music that plays mid transit or the sudden boost in speed you gain by installing another engine onto your ship. The NPC voices are all crisp and well defined. Each character absolutely feels like a separate person and not just a copy-paste of standard space tropes. Even when some of their dialogue repeated, I enjoyed each instance of someone talking to my character.
The interface of this game is very comprehensible. Options and buttons are quite clear and you’ll have no issues attempting to understand what you are clicking on. The different symbols and icons throughout each menu feel appropriate and intentional, which is something that can’t always be said for games. I can always tell if a developer really cares about their product from these small, subtle decisions. Considering I didn’t notice a single UI issue in the hours I played this game, I can say Passtech Games has clearly done all of their homework.
Despite given only an early access version of the game, I was already hooked. As a big fan of tower defense games, this was a very fun take on a familiar mechanic. I found myself seriously thinking about every building decision as it could mean the difference between a successful run and one that ends in my untimely demise. One thing I always loved about defense games was that feeling of ultimate satisfaction when your choices are so perfect, you just get to sit back and watch your guns go to town. Space Run Galaxy delivers this satisfaction in spades.
As it stands, the game feels mostly finished. I could only play so far before hitting an early stage wall, but I am excited to see how the game plays out after its official release. During my brief time with the game, I was completely immersed in the action. I often forgot I was playing a defense game and instead saw myself as a wise captain, determined to make my way in an unforgiving galaxy. Having to balance cargo and defense with the limited room on my ship gave me a lot of strategic opportunities and choices. Will I put an additional piece of cargo on my ship to earn some extra money or could I really use that space for a shield generator? Would it be better to install an additional engine on the back of my ship or a laser cannon in case any pirates try to sneak up on me from behind? These are the harrowing choices I got to make in the game.
All in all, I quite like this game. It doesn’t feel gimmicky at all and you can clearly see the time and effort the developers put into it. There is a lot of promise here. I’d love to see what else the game has in store once it officially releases. So if you like traditional defense games mixed with a vibrant space delivery atmosphere, give Space Run Galaxy a look in the Steam Store!
|+ Fun space battles mixed with traditional tower defense mechanics||– Feeling like you're trying to adapt rather than plan|
|+ Colorful NPC's with genuinely funny dialogue||– Able to restart instantly with no consequences|
|+ Lot of choice and strategy||– Missions can start to feel repetitive|