Title: Space Run Galaxy
Available On: PC
Developer: Passtech Games
Genre: Tower Defense
Release Date: June 17, 2016
Where to Buy: Steam
Space Run was a great game. It was simple, it was understandable, but most of all it was fun. There were plenty of different strategies you could use in order to win, and each mission was interesting and unique enough to keep you wanting more. Space Run managed to get that perfect mix of tongue-in-cheek humor, great gameplay and mechanics, lovely visuals and music and wrap it all up in one big addictive package.
Space Run Galaxy clearly tries to replicate this same feeling and goes down the route of expanding on the winning formula. To an extent, it succeeds – much of it remains unchanged from the original, which is not a bad thing in this case. Trying to over-complicate what is essentially a tower defense game is not a good idea. However, somewhere along the way, the addictive gameplay instead transitioned into a grind, while the few innovations lent little to the overall experience.
Don’t Fix What Ain’t Broke
Set a few decades after the events of Space Run, the plot of Space Run Galaxy still sticks with the premises of the original, though rather than playing as the rogueish Buck Mann yourself, you are instead hired by him to do pretty much the same job. Get the goods, get them to the destination quickly and safely. Do missions, get paid for good performance, upgrade your ship and unlock new upgrades.
One major difference is the scale of the universe that you are playing in this time. Rather than having a relatively linear mission path, you are instead thrust into a semi-open world, where increasing your level unlocks new space stations, missions, and characters to interact with. Crafting also makes a debut, giving you the chance the improve your vessel and unlock new constructs.
At its heart, however, Space Run Galaxy remains a tower defense game set in space. Build turrets to shoot the bad guys, shields to protect your cargo, thrusters to increase your speed, and so on. While there are a few new enemies to contend with, as well as a few new ways to upgrade your ship, it still aims for the simple pleasure of blowing enemies up in the most efficient way possible.
A Galaxy Too Far
However, it unfortunately falls somewhat short of the mark. The result of the new open universe and the accompanying mechanics can sometimes feel like content for the sake of content, along with mission gates that turn a great deal of the early game into a grind.
For example, some missions are very difficult to complete without the right upgrades, which is fair enough – that’s just a difficulty curve. But where Space Run Galaxy falls on its face is how it gives the player these upgrades. At the end of each run, you get paid and are also given crafting materials if you do a great job. These materials are then used at one of the many space station mechanics to unlock new or a greater volume of turrets, shield, thrusters, or even entirely new ship modules.
It’s not an uncomplicated system and in theory, it works. However, there are a few issues: the mechanics can only build certain upgrades at certain stations, and in order to get your crafting materials to them, you have to run them yourself – much like mission cargo. What this results in is the player having to take several trips to and from various stations just the get their crafting materials in the right place. It’s boring, gritty and frankly, feels like they are just trying to squeeze more content out of what is otherwise a very simplistic game.
The game does try to remedy this somewhat, however, with the new multiplayer system. Another very interesting concept that still doesn’t quite work out. You can actually give other players contracts to ship your crafting materials for you. There is little danger in doing so, except to your wallet, and it does work to an extent. It’s quite fun to see the community interacting on this level, but in reality, the rewards you get for shipping these goods are often insignificant in comparison to the story missions.
And, once again, it results in having to make several trips along the same routes over and over again, only this time it is for other players. I can’t slam the idea entirely because it makes sense in terms of the world and creates a sense of community without needing to ever actually see another player in your game world. To that end, I commend the developers. But in execution, it still needs some work to eliminate the grind factor.
Space Run Galaxy: A Colorful Journey
Let’s talk about the visuals. Space Run Galaxy has a bright, boisterous, almost cartoony look to it, but still has a fair bit of blood, gore, and explosions when it comes to combat. Lasers are red, shields are blue, get out of my way or there’s a missile for you.
There’s nothing particularly fantastic nor horrific about the art style – I do quite like the way the various animations come together to improve gameplay, however. Some enemies have a windup before they attack you, while it is also very clear what is going on with your own defenses during the hectic combat. And it does get very hectic – plenty of enemies onscreen mean that the GUI has to be able to give you all the information you need, very quickly. Space Run Galaxy does that extremely well, and that is certainly to its credit.
So, on an aesthetic side, Space Run Galaxy is perhaps a little better than the average, while on a technical side it is definitely solid. It is a similar story with the sound. While they do sell the downloadable soundtrack separately from the game, I can’t say whether it would be worth the purchase. It certainly wasn’t interesting enough for me to take a strong notice of it during the gameplay, but it also wasn’t bad enough for me to do the same. Solid effort, though not fantastic by any means.
Overall, I think Space Run Galaxy is a good attempt at a follow-on from what was likely considered to only be a one-shot game. It holds onto many of the same principles of the first game but unfortunately falls into the grinding trap that many games that feel like they need to provide a longer experience languish in. It does, however, very much feel like more of the same of the first game, and anyone who likes tower defense would likely find the base gameplay very enjoyable. It is really just the peripheral parts that need some polishing.
While certainly not a bad game by any means, Space Run Galaxy has some great ideas that unfortunately fail in the execution. Still certainly worth a buy, but don’t expect too much from the new features.
- Gameplay: Get there quick, get there safe, but most of all get there alive.
- Graphics: Bright and colorful, but still gory.
- Sound: Nothing horrid, nothing terrible.
- Presentation: Tower defense game with an open-universe twist.
- More of the same goodness
- Tongue-in-cheek humour
- Interesting concepts
- Too much of a grind
- Multiplayer seems only half-finished
A serial hobbyist, Jack loves everything from blacksmithing to brewing – and, of course, the occasional video game.