by Michael Stallworth
reviewed on PC
Tower Defence on the Space Lanes
To most the term real time strategy means a game where you harvest resources to build and upgrade an army. The management and use of your resources is almost always the deciding factor in these types of games. Space Run Galaxy takes the mechanic of resource management and extrapolates it to be the entire focus of the game. Real time resource management doesn’t sound like a thrilling ride but Space Run Galaxy somehow manages to pull it off, delivering a game that requires both strategy and quick decisions.
Min/Maxing your ship
Like the previous game, Space Run, Space Run Galaxy puts players in the role of a runner, basically a galactic courier who must deliver cargo from one star system to another while fending off space pirates, asteroids and rival runners. To transport the cargo shipments, you are given a ship made up of a series of hexagonal metal pieces. The ship basically acts as a platform on which you construct weapons, thrusters and shields to defend your ship and its cargo, with each emplacement occupying one hexagon.
The gameplay is very similar to tower defense: as the ship moves towards its destination you build turrets which automatically fire at incoming enemies and asteroids. These, when destroyed, yield resources to build more turrets. With every successful delivery, you are rewarded with money and materials to upgrade your ship’s systems as well as a few new hexagons that can be used to expand the size of your ship before heading out on a new job. Where you place those hexagons is important, as one of the most critical resources on your ship is free space. Having more hexagons not only gives you the ability to carry more weapons, it also affects the amount of cargo your ship can carry. This means that with enough free space, your ship will be able to fulfill multiple contracts in a single run. But every piece of cargo taken on leaves less space for defensive systems to keep that cargo safe, creating a push and pull between maximizing profits and staying alive.
As important as defending the cargo is, speed is just as important. Constructing additional rocket thrusters increases your ship’s delivery speed as well as the money earned for each mission. But, as with the cargo, every new thruster takes a spot that could be occupied by a weapon. All of these factors combine to turn the game into a juggling act that is genuinely challenging. This give and take in the gameplay makes Space Run Galaxy a game that is truly about resource management. The resource management aspect of most traditional RTS games is basically based around the speed of resource collection and little else. However, in Space Run Galaxy you never have a ton of resources at your disposal, so you are constantly making decisions that will strengthen your ship in one way, but weaken it in another.
Unnecessary Online component and other worries
There’s also an online component to the game. The action takes place in a persistent online universe, which allows players to trade resources as well as undertake or create their own custom runs and contracts. While this is a fun feature, the online experience feels rather shallow as customization is pretty much limited to the type cargo being transported, where it will be transported to and the size of the reward. This results in the custom runs feeling exactly the same as the regular missions, and the inability to pick the enemy types and placement makes the online component feel unnecessary.
My only other real complaint are missions where the frequency of the attacking ships becomes so overwhelming that my success or failure is solely dependent on my ship’s ability to soak up enough damage before reaching the finish line. This feeling of powerlessness feels like it could be mitigated by adding an active pause to the gameplay, and letting the player build new emplacements or repair existing ones, before resuming gameplay. I have heard that the developer has specifically said that he won’t add this feature because it would fundamentally change the game. And while I acknowledge that it would make the game a bit easier, I can’t see how giving players this option hurts anything. An active pause feature would also open the game up to people who don’t enjoy games that are based on clicks per minute.
Space Run Galaxy takes the core idea of resource management and creates an enjoyable game that requires fast hands and a quick mind. While the online aspects of the game feels a bit uninspired and the speed of gameplay can be prohibitive to some players, it is a great game for anyone looking to play a new kind of RTS.
Original twist on resource management and strategy, frantic action
Uninspired multiplayer, some may find gameplay overwhelming