By: Quinn Potter
Whether it’s the team from Firefly, Han Solo from Star Wars, or the federal marshal from Justified — my, oh my, we love our Lone Rangers. Take a twangy steel guitar, toss in some witty repartee, get yourself behind the wheel of a rusty spaceship and blast off in Rebel Galaxy.
Controls are detailed, complicated and quite comprehensive. There is a long(ish) tutorial, so you’ll have plenty of practice to gain experience. The layout is fine, which is good since you can’t remap them anyway.
Sharply rendered graphics in a full spectrum of colors makes deep space fun again. A vivid palette makes the backdrop bright and appealing, not the dingy gray or dull black often portrayed in games set in space. Gameplay is fun, engaging and glitch-free.
Spacecraft are sharp and distinct. The star system is expansive. Nebulas are beautiful, planets are detailed, and the space debris is abundant. What makes this really unique is that everything you see is randomly generated, so no play will be the same.
On the downside, asteroids, spaceship engine fire, and the firing of weapons can be a bit cartoonish and underwhelming. The pulse is a nice effect, however, as are the flares that halo across your screen when you strike a certain angle toward the sun.
Rebel Galaxy is text-heavy. Interactions with aliens, traders, and others are all click-and-point text exchanges. When traveling, data about other ships or items near your route will also pop up as text. Navigating the bar, reading a newsboard, or choosing items at the shipyard or market also relies on menus loaded with text and data. Thankfully, menus are intuitive and easy to navigate, the font is clear, and all text is easy to read.
Voice actors are well chosen. The soundtrack is fantastic. Distorted vocals are backed up by rockabilly guitars for a solid professional effort. As the action picks up, the music does, too. Rock out with a rebel country yell while you fire at enemies who stall your progress.
A short introduction lays out the groundwork in Rebel Galaxy – your aunt has called you to some obscure planet on the other side of the universe and you respond. Depending on which path you choose, you can meet an alien, make a black market whiskey exchange, upgrade your ship, or venture down another other rabbit hole of your choice.
Galaxies have multiple planets, asteroid fields, stations and other areas to explore. Each station has a bar where you can read the newsboard for current events, hire a mercenary, or chat with the friendly AI bartender for tips or advice. Stations also have shipyards where you can buy ships, equipment bays where you can get upgrades for your ship and markets where you can get a diversity of items (Space slaves, robots, or Yikyak meat, anyone?)
The main mission is to find your aunt. At stations, you’ll be offered smaller missions, too. You’ll be captain of your own bucket of rust, running black market goods, seeking out artifacts, or doing whatever your heart desires.
Don’t worry if you’re frustrated the first time you have a mission – it’s quite clear that you won’t always have the proper weapons or knowledge to successfully complete your goals. After you fail once, though, you’ll usually have a pretty clear idea of what you need to do to succeed.
Although you can try to race through each mission to avoid enemies, this is a game that is meant to encourage engagement, not serenity. Battles are when the music starts rocking and the airwaves are filled with the smug remarks of AI enemies. Don’t look for friends to get you out of this mess because there’s no co-op. Just engage and blast the best you can.
A minor note, if you could choose a combination of fast travel and energy warp (hyper-speed) instead of just energy warp that would be nice.
Space trader, rebel, pirate, excavator or fighter – whatever you decide there’s a whole big universe out there to explore and a rocking good beat to get you on your way. The name of the game is Rebel Galaxy, and the mission is all about fun.