If I were to think of the most generic title for a sci-fi video game that I could come up with, I would have to say that the name Space Raiders in Space would have to be in the running. After playing the game I have to assume that this was done on purpose as it fits perfectly with the game’s overall theme. Despite the generic title when I first saw Space Raiders in Space I was intrigued. Outside of the game’s quirky atmosphere the game looked like an interesting combination of different video game genres. The game blends elements from tower defense, survival, squad based, roguelike, and even strategy games to create a interesting premise. Space Raiders in Space combines an entertaining world with a mixture of different mechanics to create a satisfying experience that shows a lot of potential.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank 2 Stupid Devs for the preview copy of Space Raiders in Space used for this preview. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to preview, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this preview. Receiving the preview copy for free had no impact on the content of this preview.
Space Raiders in Space is the type of game that doesn’t fit neatly into a typical video game genre. Instead it feels like a combination of a number of different mechanics. Basically in the game you are put in charge of a group that have survived the initial alien bug invasion. Your group can be so stupid at times that it is a minor miracle that they are still alive. The gameplay mostly involves giving your survivors a list of commands to help them prepare for the next wave of bugs that are approaching. The game has five different commands to give your survivors that they will listen to for the most part.
Before each wave begins you are given some time to prepare. This mostly involves searching your environment and building up your defenses. This is simple enough as you just tell your people to search their surroundings and they will rummage through nearby locations. When searching they will find various weapons that you can equip your survivors with or various types of resources. You can use these resources to build defenses, stationary weapons, or various traps. To build something you just choose it from the menu and place it where you want it built. You then just need to order one of the survivors to build it and after a certain amount of time they will complete it. These mechanics add a survival and tower defense mechanic to the game. There is a limited number of resources so you have to search for them and use them wisely. When building items you are mostly trying to build a base that slows down the bugs while also protecting your survivors.
When you run out of preparation time the game shifts to combat. The combat in the game kind of feels like a squad based strategy game. You have a number of survivors to watch over who have a limited number of health points. You never have direct control over their positioning or their actions, but you can give them one of three different commands. You can tell them to attack which will make them aggressively attack a nearby bug. The defense command tells them to take cover and attack once enemies get into range. Finally there is the cower action which basically tells the survivors to run and hide in a corner. You don’t have direct control over what the survivors do, but you can use these commands to direct their actions to try to keep them alive. Once a character dies they are dead for good.
The ultimate goal in Space Raiders in Space is to try to survive for as many waves as possible. In this regard the game is roguelike as once you lose your last survivor your run ends. The game doesn’t really have an end as the objective of the game is to just survive for as long as possible in order to score more points. After you survive a wave you are presented with two options. First you can leave which will bring your remaining survivors to a new location where you start from scratch except for the weapons that you have already acquired. Your other option is to stay in your current location for another wave. Staying in the same location allows you to reuse your defenses. Each wave gets progressively more challenging though. The main reason to stay in a location for longer is because the longer you stay the more points you will score. You will also get access to better weapons and after every couple waves you will get a supply drop which will either provide you with weapons, resources, or a new survivor. Choosing the right time to move to a new location can be the difference between winning and losing the game.
While Space Raiders in Space might not nicely fit into an established video game genre, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. The game really tries to strike the right balance between accessible mechanics and keeping the gameplay deep enough that it remains satisfying. For the most part Space Raiders in Space does a good job maintaining this balance. The game is really easy to pick up and play as you don’t have to worry about micromanaging your survivors. Just tell your survivors to do something and they usually do it without any issues. While the game allows you to pause at any time to plan your strategy, it usually isn’t necessary as you can adjust quickly just by giving one or more of the survivors a different command.
Despite being quite simple to play, there is still quite a bit of strategy to the game. If you just wing it you are likely going to get your survivors killed pretty quickly. The game basically has two phases and you need to utilize both as well as possible in order to survive long term. After each wave you are probably going to want to send out your survivors to search their surroundings in order to get you the supplies that you need to build your defenses. You then need to build a defensive position that limits where enemies can come from and preferably slows them down so you have more opportunities to shoot them with your ranged weapons before they can even attack your survivors. You will probably want to mostly have the survivors take defensive positions occasionally alternating between attacking and cowering depending on their health situation. How you choose to build your defensive structures as well as the commands you give in combat will likely determine how long you will be able to survive.
This blend between accessibility and complexity has lead to a game that I have enjoyed playing. On the surface the game seems kind of simple. The game doesn’t have as much depth as a squad based strategy game or a deep tower defense game, but I think it finds a good balance. While you will eventually fail as your defenses crumble, the game has a satisfying gameplay loop. Gather resources, use them to build defenses, and give commands to try and force your survivors to make good decisions. Each wave you survive is satisfying especially when you have been in the same location for quite some time. As your defenses grow and your survivors get better weapons it is satisfying seeing them mow down larger and larger groups of enemies.
Space Raiders in Space’s gameplay is quite satisfying at this point. The other thing that really stands out at this point is the game’s overall atmosphere. The game uses a comic book style for the visuals. I think this works well for the game as it gives the game a unique style. It is not just the visuals though as Space Raiders in Space does a good job creating a unique theme for the game. For an early access game I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised that the game has developed quite a personality already.
The story is not fully developed at this point as the game mostly just involves visiting different locations that have been raided by the bug creatures. The story that the game does have at this point is pretty entertaining though. Between each location you will get some story bits along with a decision that you have to make. The characters also regularly get into discussions with one another. Simply put the game never takes itself too seriously. Some of the jokes miss at times, but in general I found the game to be pretty funny in a nerdy/punny way. This is emphasized by the game’s tutorial. Outside of recommending it just to know how to play the game, I would also highly recommend it as it is actually funny. The tutorial basically entails the two developers yelling/insulting/making fun of one another as they discuss the game’s mechanics. Most of the time I found this to be genuinely funny.
At this time I am pretty impressed by Space Raiders in Space for a game in early access. The game is estimated to leave early access this summer, but may take longer depending on how the development process goes. For an early access game Space Raiders in Space is pretty polished at this point. The gameplay is quite fun and there seems to already be quite a bit of content in the game. If you think the game’s premise sounds interesting I think you should really enjoy it. There are two things I would like to see tweaked before the final version of the game though.
While I have had fun with the game so far, my biggest concern for Space Raiders in Space is that the game will get a little repetitive after a while. There may be other ways of playing the game, but at this point I basically followed the same process after every wave. After a wave finished I would immediately send out the survivors to search until they searched everywhere they could. At this point there was still enough time to build whatever defenses that I wanted. I then just set the survivors into defense mode for the wave while occasionally switching individual survivors to attack or cower mode. This is fun but I am a little worried that this is going to become a little repetitive after a while. The developers shouldn’t drastically change the gameplay loop, but I hope they expand on it a little to give players a few more options. This will keep the gameplay fresher for longer.
The other thing that could use a little work is your survivors’ AI. I know the game intends for the survivors to be kind of stupid as it plays into the game’s overall theme. Most of the time this is not a bad thing as the survivors usually follow your general directions. Tell them to do something and they won’t ignore you. I wish there was a little more control over the three attack commands though. In particular when I gave survivors the defend command you would think that they would hide behind the barricades that I just built. They usually will, but there is the occasional survivor who refuses to stay in your base’s most secure location. The game doesn’t need to give you detailed control over the survivors, but I wish you could kind of choose the position where they will defend from. Without this your survivors will sometimes choose stupid locations which will lead to them getting killed when they otherwise could have survived.
With a name like Space Raiders in Space I originally thought the game was a joke or it would be one of the most generic video games ever made. When you look closer at the game though you find a game that is actually quite interesting. The game is basically a mashup of a bunch of different video game genres. The basic goal of the game is to have your survivors last as long as possible in order to score points. This involves commanding them to gather supplies, build defenses, and fight off the alien/mutant bugs when they attack. In many ways the game streamlines most of these mechanics as the gameplay mostly revolves around telling the survivors what to do. There is a surprising amount of depth to the game though as how you command the survivors has a pretty big impact on how long they will survive. I found the gameplay to be quite fun as you try to survive for as long as possible. The game also has a great atmosphere between the game’s style and the surprisingly funny dialog. For a game still in the early access process the game shows a lot of potential at this point. Hopefully the game continues to develop further by giving players more to do and maybe improving the survivor AI a little. Otherwise there is a lot to like about Space Raiders in Space.
My recommendation for Space Raiders in Space comes down to your thoughts on the game’s premise and its quirky atmosphere. If the gameplay doesn’t seem all that interesting to you it probably won’t be for you. Those that think the gameplay sounds fun though should really enjoy the game and should consider picking it up.
Buy Space Raiders in Space online: Steam