By: Brian Gunn
Space Run Galaxy is the second entry in the Space Run series, though you would be forgiven if you did not know about the first game since it went fairly under the radar. With this entry, Passtech Games are looking toward passive multiplayer games to freshen up their tower defense mechanics.
Tower defense games tend to control fairly simply, and Space Run Galaxy lives up to that standard. You just need to find what you want in a list of ship parts and place them on the defined areas. There are some tweaks to the formula, such as each weapon having a special ability to invoke or certain ones that you’re able to rotate when attacks come from a new angle, but it’s still pretty straightforward.
There’s a fairly stellar art style to the characters in Space Run Galaxy. It’s almost like a comic book, and the variety of oddballs you meet all feel distinct. Sadly, yhat charm doesn’t particularly translate to the actual gameplay. The towers and enemies end up feeling a little on the bland side and similar to many others in the genre.
The game is about space truckers essentially, which means it is heavy on the typical traits of space western stories and games that have been coming out over the past decade like Rebel Galaxy and Firefly. Expect lots of guitar twangs that fit the atmosphere but don’t particularly stand out. Story moments are voice acted and work well for the most part.
The Space Run series sets itself apart via a unique central hook to the tower defense formula in that it has no set levels. There aren’t lanes of enemies to prepare for; instead you’re piloting a ship and simply dealing with things that get close, and levels are often randomized. This means you have to play on your toes quite a bit more than other games in the genre.
Space Run Galaxy puts players in the role of a nameless newbie space-runner. There’s no characterization for the lead, so it often feels like you are playing the android helper that deals with all the characters in story moments.
You’ll interact with most of the previous game’s cast, include its main character, Buck. There’s not much of a narrative thrust at the start beyond “be a better space-runner,” but eventually you’ll find yourself embroiled in a plot to save the world, like usual.
Your spaceship itself is made up of a variety of construction cells, and each of those cells can hold one item, whether it’s a piece of cargo, an engine, or a missile launcher. Gameplay is split between managing the overall campaign and each level. You don’t build many permanent upgrades to a ship, instead upgrading the amount or quality of a tower, and then each level you’ll be able to place them wherever you want.
However, the campaign’s missions frequently entrust you with cargo to deliver at far away space stations, and it will take up space on your ship. So there’s thought to be put into whether you should load up two missions worth of cargo and sacrifice the spaces you’d normally reserve for weapons or shields, or leave some behind and make a second trip.
There’s also a unique multiplayer element to the game that seems fairly ambitious. While there’s no direct co-op or PVP or really any interactions with other players directly, you can create missions for them to do, as well as sell them your goods. So if you have some leftover cargo three planets away, you can create a contract for another player to move that cargo instead of doing it yourself. It’s a little limited in scope, but it does a good job of making the world feel populated.
Sadly, the campaign is more interesting than the levels. Enemies feel too repetitive and don’t have enough variety until near the end. It can also be easy to sort of wind up in a bad position with your tower placements if you get an unlucky spawn.
Space Run Galaxy is a unique tower defense game with cool multiplayer elements. It does struggle a bit in the moment-to-moment gameplay, but it lays great groundwork for a sequel. Let’s hope third time is the charm.