After cheating my way out of write up for the Space Crew preview, it’s caught up with me, so it’s time for the review based on the PC version of the game.
A sci-fi rogue-like where you can’t get overly familiar with your crew in fear of losing them to the perils of space exploration, Space Crew is a decent strategy with a host of unlockables and customisations to keep you entertained while in orbit.
The premise for this game, from Runner Duck and published by Curve Digital, is to successfully manage a crew, completing a variety of missions and side-missions consisting of bounties and hunting alien champions, and levelling up your team to reap the awards of their unique skills.
Space Crew Review – PC via Steam
Starting from the Earth space station Athena, you have a variety of options that include recruiting your team, equipping apparel, training to unlock new skills, customising your craft, a stats screen and mission selection.
From the mission selection, you can select from a small range of missions based on risk, detailing the rewards should you complete it. Once ready to go, you take command of your Captain, hit launch on the command panel at the foot of the screen, then select the route you wish to take to complete the mission.
There’s the fastest route and the safest route. Let’s make it clear: the fastest route is not the quickest way to go. Logistically, yes, but when the alternative is safest, that means you’ll be bombarded by enemy ships if taking the speediest way. There is an upside as you get more XP if you defeat them, but Space Crew is a strategy game, and you can’t wing it – you need to use the skills of each member.
Your crew consists of the following:
- Security Officer
- Comms Officer
- 2x Weapons Officers
You’d think that the Captain is the main person, but without a doubt, it’s the Engineer. They’re indispensable and central to the success of your survival. The Engineer re-routes the ship’s power to the shields, weapons, engines and switches the gravity on and off. Additionally, they are usually the fastest at repairing components should they go offline.
Your Comms Officer will plot which way to go and operates the scanner for when enemies show up (they also have a wicked support skill that calls on a squadron of fighters to help even the odds).
The Security Officer was a little per surplus to me, and they were just another pair of hands to operate the front guns and occasionally purge the ship, sending any unwanted invaders into space. The Weapons Officers are self-explanatory, with their skills being focused fire and overdrive options.
This Is The Captain Of Your Ship
Without the captain, you aren’t going anywhere so you could essentially have them dormant in their seat through each mission, triggering hyperdrive and tagging objectives to head in whichever direction. The Captain was also a little external to my needs until levelling up, and their evasive skills improved.
A lot of the missions in Space Crew are the same; escort service (wahey!), deliveries, clearing out the sections of raiders and bounty hunting to name a few. In almost all areas, you will encounter asteroid fields and engage in skirmishes.
While your crew are defending/attacking from their posts, you can have the Captain fly defensively; ensuring that any incoming attacks are absorbed by the side with the strongest shields, or offensively; steering the ship to attack the enemy with full force.
With the evasive skill, it’s almost like being on a boat in rough water as the ship rocks to the side but makes it harder to hit and keep you alive for longer. Death in Space Crew can strike at any time, and even with a good run, one lucky shot on your engines or reactor and you’re done for.
Aside from being blasted to death from enemy lasers, you can burn from fire damage, lose all your oxygen, or suffer an agonising death from radiation exposure. To counter this, you can strategically place items around the ship such as guns to ward off aliens who board you, first aid kits to replenish health or revive a fallen member (there’s also a med-bay with a limited charge), and finally a fire extinguisher to put out fires.
To reiterate the importance of the engineer once more, if your engines go down, you have to don a spacesuit and fix the exterior. I had to do this mid-fight, and my engineer got left behind. Still alive, I returned to pick them up, using the onboard tractor beam to pull them in.
At the end of each mission, you get a result screen confirming the credits won and research points. The former allows you to buy new apparel that has buffs such as radiation prevention or perhaps a faster tool for repairs, or you can kit out your ship with armour, weapons, livery and general upgrades.
The research points unlock new tech to buy with the above, but you can also learn new skills the longer you keep the team alive, and the more missions you complete. One advantage is being able to replay early levels to earn a bit more money, at the sacrifice of fewer research points. Each task has a rank for difficulty, but even the lower levels are bloody hard.
Space Crew is quite addictive, and a bit of a grind. If you’re really skilled, you can level up faster with more challenging levels, but for me, I savoured it a bit and got a balanced crew before tackling bounties et al. Ignoring the optional grinding, it is quite repetitive; leave your base, choose the fastest or safest route, evade an asteroid field, battle it out a couple of times and repeat.
For someone not keen on space exploration, it didn’t take me long to get stuck in, and I anticipate playing this repeatedly, regardless of progress as it’s pretty enjoyable, if repetitive and a little on the difficult side. You can’t sit back with Space Crew and hope for the best, nor can you apply the same strategy again and again for an easy win. I like that approach as it makes the game feel fresh, even if you’ve completed the same mission a dozen times.