If Rebel Galaxy deserves points for one aspect right off the bat, it’s the childish thrill it creates as it dumps you into a clunky old spaceship, gives you the keys and tells you to go off and explore. For a game centred around trading, fighting and exploring, it’s surprisingly easy to adjust to Double Damage Games’ vision of their Southern American-tinged space antics as you zip around the galaxy in your bucket ‘o bolts.
The story is somewhat bare; you’re a spacefarer on the trail of your Aunt Juno, who’s inexplicably gone gallivanting around the universe on her own. Your travels take you to a space station where one of your Aunt’s acquaintances has information to help you on your quest…..for a favour. Completing said favour leads to another extra-terrestrial with a problem he needs you to resolve before he’s willing to point you in your Aunt’s direction, which might just provoke a little too much cynicism for comfort given how often we’ve seen this safe, familiar mission structure. Eventually, the narrative loop broadens somewhat, but given the increasing simplicity of the tasks you’re asked to carry out, the gameplay itself feels a little bare.
Sure, there’s plenty to do. Your ship, the charmingly named Rasputin may not be able to move up nor down, but it can move from side-to-side swiftly enough, which is quite handy when engaging in space combat. Locking onto your foes is easy enough, and then it’s a case of avoiding as much fire as possible whilst sending enough of your own missiles to down enemy ships. Outside of combat, exploration and speedy traversing of the colourful horizons is smooth, and entering warp speed to travel long distances is (and there really is no other word for it) cool.
Outside of your spacecraft, your options are limited. Space stations litter the large map, but there’s no character model running around flashy-looking tunnels; just a series of menus that allow you to upgrade your vehicle’s defences, offences and capabilities. Each hub has a watering hole that offers a brief conversation with a bartender featuring some basic dialogue choices, your next mission or the option of hiring a mercenary to help with your extra-curricular activities.
The game’s vision of space is sparsely populated and not exactly filled with surprises, and the fact that you’re unable to take your faceless character into one of these stations and explore in first person is a shame, because there’s some excellent world building on offer. Aliens speak to you in their mother tongue with handy subtitles to pierce through their imaginative lingo, the ships that are on offer to you are wonderfully designed and the world itself feels lived in. There’s certainly a few casual glances to the Mass Effect trilogy, and definite nods to Joss Whedon’s sci-fi series Firefly, with the latter not so unwelcome given the game’s soundtrack is made up of American country rock songs. That in itself encourages this notion of you as this lone outlaw, or better yet a space cowboy, and that sense of badassery it instils is great.
So yes, it’s a shame that whilst there’s a lot to do in Rebel Galaxy’s campaign, and plenty of side missions to get your teeth into, the tasks that you’re given often end up becoming far too similar for their own good. It’s appreciated that the core gameplay loop is established early, for sure, but given the world that Double Damage have built here, it’s a shame that there isn’t more on offer to hold your attention, with odd moments like being pulled over by the space fuzz for carrying contraband in your ship’s hull not occurring frequently enough to offer a varied experience.
Still, it offers more than enough content to justify its price, and the vision of this galaxy filled with haggard mercenaries and shady aliens is sufficiently strong to pique your interest. Flying around in the Rasputin putting the galaxy to rights might not be the most challenging of experiences, but it’s still good fun.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 6/10 Format: PlayStation 4 / PC / Xbox One Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Rebel Galaxy by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of a week. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.