We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Passtech Games and Focus Home Interactive for the review copy of Space Run Galaxy used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
If it wasn’t obvious enough by the name, Space Run Galaxy is the sequel to the 2014 Steam game Space Run. While I haven’t finished it yet, I have enjoyed the original Space Run quite a bit. The question that always comes up with sequels is whether the developers actually improved/added to the game or if they pretty much just created new levels. While Space Run Galaxy shares a lot in common with its’ predecessor, some cool new ideas make Space Run Galaxy a much better game that its’ predecessor and one of the best tower defense games I have ever played.
So lets begin by talking about the original Space Run and what Galaxy shares with its’ predecessor. In the original Space Run you play as Buck Mann a pilot that I would describe as a space trucker. Buck Mann is hired by different clients to transport goods from one destination to another. Space is a dangerous place though so after loading your cargo you have to add towers to your ship to shoot the asteroids and pirate ships that attack your ship. By destroying these enemies you receive “money” that you can use to add additional towers to your ship. The objective of each level is to get all your cargo safely to their destination. Each level has a time limit as well and you receive additional resources to upgrade your ship if you complete the levels quickly.
So lets move on to Space Run Galaxy. Space Run Galaxy takes place 20 years after the original game and you play as a newly hired unnamed employee of Buck Mann. You are still in the cargo delivery business. You still face off against pirates and asteroids along with new alien creatures that threaten to damage your ship and cargo. The mission structure is different but the basics of the game are the same. Load your cargo and deliver it quickly and safely to its destination. Most sequels would just add new levels and maybe tweak a few things here and there. Space Run Galaxy doesn’t drastically change the basic gameplay but adds a lot of things to the game that make it a much more immersive experience.
Let’s start with the mission structure in the game. In the original Space Run you just chose a mission and played it. In between missions you could choose upgrades for your ship. I never really liked this structure since it just felt like a bunch of levels that you had to complete. In Space Run Galaxy this is changed quite drastically. In Galaxy you still choose missions from many of the same organizations from the first game. There is much more to it than that though. Instead of just choosing a mission and playing it, Galaxy works more like a delivery simulator as you get to pick which planets you want to visit and which goods you want to load at any particular time. For example if an organization has a lot of cargo you can split the load into two trips or you can combine several jobs and deliver them all at the same time.
The game has some story missions which drive the plot forward and open up more planets to you but there are also a bunch of side missions that you can complete to gain additional resources which you will need to upgrade your ship (more on this later). Basically Space Run Galaxy has the routes between planets act as the levels from the previous game where each time you travel a route it will essentially have the same enemy layout.
Maybe the biggest complaint most players including myself had with Space Run is that the game had a huge trial and error feeling to it. Basically you played the level and usually died (outside of the early levels) because you didn’t know where the enemies were coming from. You then replayed the level with your new knowledge and improved because you knew what was coming. Some levels you had to do this several times in order to master your strategy to beat the level.
This problem is still sometimes present in the game but it seems to have been improved quite a bit in Space Run Galaxy. Maybe this issue pops more later in the game but I haven’t had many issues with it so far. Instead Space Run Galaxy relies more on repetition/grinding as you build up your arsenal. Basically the game forces you to replay routes in order to complete more deliveries to get more resources to upgrade your ship. There are things I like and don’t like about this change to the game.
I like this change because it no longer feels like you are banging your head against the wall looking for the one strategy that is needed to beat a level. If you can’t beat a route, do some other routes you have already completed to get some resources to upgrade your ship. If you spend enough time grinding you should be able to make the level manageable. This makes it feel like you are actually building up your cargo business rather than just failing the same mission over and over again.
The one thing I don’t like about this change is that it requires quite a bit of grinding/repetition. This is the biggest and one of the only problems I had with Space Run Galaxy. No matter how good you are at the game, you are going to have to repeat the same routes several times in order to build up enough resources to upgrade your ship to beat more challenging routes. This tends to get repetitive at times.
This brings me to possibly the biggest change in Space Run Galaxy which involves your ship itself. The basic premise is the same where you you place your cargo and towers on hexagonal spots on your ship. Before beginning the level you get to load your cargo on the ship and then you place your other weapons/defensive structures on the ship while playing the level.
This brings up a contentious item from the original game. A lot of people wanted the game to include a pause button so you could take some time to decide where you wanted to place your towers. Unfortunately Space Run Galaxy does not include a pause button either which is a shame in my opinion. I don’t really see how adding it could have hurt the game. People that didn’t want to use it could just not use it and the pause button could have really helped some players that want some additional time to plan out how they want to place their towers.
The biggest change to the ship portion of the game is how upgrades/resources are handled. In the original game you used your resources to research new towers and get additional upgrades for them. This is handled quite a bit differently in Galaxy. In Galaxy you have to buy the towers themselves but don’t have to buy upgrades. What I mean by this is that you have to buy every single individual tower you want to use during a level. For example if you have bought five thrusters you can only build five thrusters onto your ship throughout the level.
I don’t know how everyone will feel about this. At first I didn’t really like the idea since it is frustrating to have the money to add another tower to your ship but being unable to since you don’t have any more of that tower that you can build during the current level. This is also the driving force behind a lot of the grinding in the game because you need to get enough resources to buy enough weapons/defensive towers to fill your ship. After a while though it didn’t bother me as much since it makes the game feel more thematic instead of just a bunch of levels packaged together.
As far as the towers themselves there are some changes. First you can’t change the direction of a tower after it is placed. This was a bummer since I liked to use this tactic in the original game. The placement rules otherwise seem to be very similar to the original game and a lot of the towers are very similar to the original game. The game has added some new types of towers though. The most unique is a tower for each of the three types of towers which upgrades all of the towers of the same type within its’ radius. These towers upgrade fire rate, damage and other effects of the towers within their range.
The towers’ special abilities have also been overhauled. In the original game each tower had three different special abilities that could be unlocked that could be used after a cooldown period. In Galaxy each tower only has one ability which can be upgraded if the tower is next to one of the upgrade towers mentioned in the previous paragraph. While the abilities in the original game just made you click a button to activate them, in Galaxy you get to manually aim all of the special abilities. While the special abilities have a cooldown, Galaxy also has a special ability “pool” that you use to power the different special abilities. This pool is replenished by the thrusters on your ship which makes adding thrusters even more important in Galaxy. In the original Space Run I really didn’t bother using the special abilities too much since I was too focused on doing other things but I am using the special abilities a lot more in Galaxy. I personally prefer the special ability system used in Galaxy.
So now lets move onto the ship as a whole. One of the things that I kept wanting to see in the original Space Run was to be able to build your own ship. In the original game you were just given a different ship at the beginning of each level. I found this frustrating since you couldn’t develop a tower layout because your ship changed every level. Thankfully this have been ditched entirely in Galaxy. You finally get to build your own ship. Throughout the game you acquire different basic frames that you can use for any mission. No longer will you be using a random ship for every new mission. You get to use the same ship for mission after mission (if you want) so you can start to build strategies of how you want to lay towers out on your ship. You can also acquire additional hexagon pieces which you can use to expand your ship. At least in the early game there are restrictions on where you can place these additional hexagon pieces. This was a fantastic addition to the game and something that I thought the original game was sadly missing.
So with all the changes is Galaxy easier or harder than the original game. That is kind of hard to judge at this point. I have been playing the game for around four to five hours and I am actually still in the first solar system (there are four solar systems in the game). So far I would say the game is probably a little easier than the original. The original was a hard tower defense game though and I don’t see Galaxy being an easy game. The reason I think the game is going to be slightly easier though is that due to grinding you can get enough weapons to make runs easier if you are having trouble with a particular level.
As I mentioned I am not even close to finishing the game at this point. I have played the game for four to five hours and I am about a fourth done with the game. This is partially due to quite a bit of grinding early in the game in order to get a lot of weapons but I believe Space Run Galaxy is considerably longer than the original game. Even after you have beaten all of the different runs you can always keep playing the game in order to grow your cargo empire.
Lets get to the multiplayer. I think the multiplayer is a cool idea. It does a great job making it feel like you are in an interconnected world. You can trade items with other players and even take jobs or give jobs to other players. This mostly entails hiring other players to transport goods to different planets because a player is too busy to do it themselves. These are good additions to the game but I wish the game would have had some sort of competitive mode where you could face off against other players.
With all the new things added to Space Run Galaxy, the thing I like most is how they all work together to make a much more immersive experience. While the original Space Run was a really good game it always felt like it was just a string of missions and there was little connecting the missions together. The additions to Space Run Galaxy makes the game feel more immersive. It feels like you are actually part of a cargo company. Space Run Galaxy does a better job building out the universe as well.
There really isn’t much else I can say about Space Run Galaxy other than I am really enjoying it. I am a big fan of tower defense games and Space Run Galaxy is probably one of the best tower defense games that I have played. The original Space Run was such an innovative idea for a tower defense game and Galaxy finds ways to improve on almost every aspect of the original. Space Run Galaxy is an example of what you want to see out of a sequel. The only big complaint I have with the game is that at times it kind of forces you to grind in order to get the resources needed to purchase the towers you need to equip your ship. I also kind of wish the game would have included a pause button to give players some time to decide how they wanted to place their towers.
If you don’t like tower defense games you probably aren’t going to like Space Run Galaxy. It does some really interesting things with the genre but it probably won’t make someone who doesn’t like the genre start liking it. If you like tower defense games though you really need to check it out. If you have played the original Space Run and enjoyed it I would recommend picking up Space Run Galaxy without hesitation. If you have never played the original game you really don’t have to play the original since there isn’t much to the story that you will miss and I think Galaxy is a pretty significant improvement on the original. If you can find the original for cheap though I would still recommend picking it up since it is really good as well.
If you would like to purchase Space Run Galaxy you can purchase it on Steam.