by Christopher Coke
reviewed on PC
Did Somebody Call a Mechanic? (cntd)
The path you choose is important for two reasons. First, enemies will chase you if you get too close and they can do substantial damage to you. Second, and more important to overall gameplay, is that on normal mode, wormholes act as culminating events to each wave and cause the container to fall to pieces around you. When this happens, you're left floating in space with a quickly depleting oxygen bar or frantically racing back as the floor falls away beneath you. The game offers no indication of when this will occur which really ratchets the tension. As levels become more difficult and enemies more plentiful, strategic choices on which route to take change the way you play. For example, the better choice may simply be to bore through the hull rather than face the challenges within.
A drill and firearm make up your toolkit. The drill is a basic tool used for mining through walls and melee attacks and can remain static without cap-based upgrades. The gun, however, has several variants which are frequently picked up through exploration and can be switched to on the fly. Both have to be managed carefully. While the drilling through walls is a simple click-and-hold affair, it can be slow when un-upgraded. Guns, on the other hand, are ammo-based and require separate clicks for each shot. The default weapon, the nailgun, starts out with enough ammo for several holds but without replenishment you're left with a weak melee for defense. Special weapons also come with very limited ammo when picked up, so it is a wise idea to buy extra as soon as possible.
Cargo, perks and controls
Progression in the game is handled through ranks, unlocks and sectors. As each level is completed, new cargo is added into a pool of 88 collectibles which contribute towards your Cargo Commander rank. These ranks unlock new perks and are persistent on Serious Brew's servers, so your rank is consistent no matter where you play. The first perk allows you to start each day with a pool of 10 caps. However, by Rank 6 you unlock a whole new game variant called Journey Mode. This mode removes wormholes entirely but also removes your personal cargo hold, spreading key terminals throughout the game. Each sector is randomly generated based on its name and will contain no more than six types of cargo, so it's important to move on once you've collected each type unless you're trying for a high score. When the time comes, you can play through levels other people have generated or create your own simply by entering a unique name.
Controls can be an issue in Cargo Commander. The included schemes include keyboard and mouse and gamepad, but the former is much preferred for the precision provided by the mouse pointer. It can be touchy at times, and I more than once fell from platforms for the briefest of key strokes. Because the game features an inconsistent use of gravity – some crates have it, others do not – it's not uncommon to drill through a wall only to find yourself thrown repeatedly back out again before finding a good approach. Because interiors are blacked out before entry, it is impossible to prevent drilling in upside down or sideways, which can lead to some nausea inducing re-orienting.
Since the game's difficulty is progressive, challenge level can also suffer from some serious spikes. Death is a foregone conclusion in any roguelike but after five or six pulls, the odds begin to slant against you. In the pursuit of high scores, this is understandable, but it can feel a little unfair at times.
Tight controls, addictive gameplay, great replayability.
Defeating at high levels, can feel repetitive in the long-term.