The space trucking genre is a very niche market. As a matter of fact, the trucking subgenre is one of relatively low appeal with most games of the style being made as arcade games for Dave & Busters. 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker, I’m looking at you. So, color me surprised when one of the most enhancing and fun experiences I’ve had all year is little more than a space trucking game. Rebel Galaxy by Double Damage Games is an exceptional example of a developer taking a rather boring concept and giving it the kick in the right direction. It seems like that kick was right into space.
The open, sandbox nature of the game is spectacular. While there is a main story, it is wholly irrelevant to your enjoyment of the game. Combat is handled in a similar fashion to that of the Assassin’s Creed ship combat, which is lauded as being revolutionary to vehicular combat. it’s fascinating how the Assassin’s Creed ship combat has lauded the same amount of respect (and with that, emulation) that the Arkham combat has received. The difference here is that the ship combat is what you will spend the mast majority of the game doing, there isn’t really much else in the combat field. Fortunately for the player’s, the game feels amazing. The ability to both constantly upgrade your ship and your weaponry allows for constantly evolving gameplay allowing it to constantly be fresh.
What makes Rebel Galaxy so special is just how easily you can make the character your own. You are inhabiting, what feels like, a living, breathing world with a dynamic economy and political system. Your standing with factions and groups within the solar system varies on how you react to them. For example, you could be warping into a nearby Mining Station with contraband on your ship. The selling of said particular items are highly illegal but this specific station will buy. The System Militia stops you as you near the spaceport to dock. At this point you will be presented with several options in how you would like to confront the situation. For one, you could hand over the contraband but lose the credits that you would’ve gained. Or you could fight the System Militia in the spaceport, at that point your standing with the Militia will be altered which in turn will affect your enjoyment of the game. it’s really impressive and seems to me that this is what Fable would’ve been like if it had actually lived up to it’s promise.
I’ve dumped about forty hours into this game and I still feel like it’s not enough. The addictive quality to the game can be pointed to the pedigree of the developers. The founders of Double Damage Games, Travis Baldree and Erich Schafer, previously worked at Runic Games (the creators of Torchlight and Torchlight II). Travis also had a hand in developing Fate (a highly underrated gem) and Erich assisted in the development of Diablo, Diablo II, and Hellgate: London. If that isn’t a pedigree for creating highly addictive, masterclass quality games than I don’t know what is. Travis and Erich take what they know best and transition it to a new playing field and it works so well. It’s rather shocking since I didn’t enjoy the ship combat in the Assassin’s Creed games. But, somehow they managed to make it exciting.
I think the biggest reason that I love this game is the charm. This is a space western without ever explicitly telling you that it is a space western. From the music to the design of the ships, just about everything reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows of all time Firefly. The music is definitely a huge point to applaud. I actually loved these tracks so much that I saved them onto my personal Spotify playlist. The ship designs are gorgeous. The particular model that I had was one of my favorite ship designs but there are quite a few fantastic designs.
I could see where Rebel Galaxy could fall flat for people. It’s lack of linearity and embracing of freeform gameplay leaves a lot up to the imagination of the player. But, that’s half the fun. I was finally given my opportunity to play the swashbuckling, dashing rogue who didn’t give two shits about the consequences but how much it paid.