In space, no one can hear you scream as you lose half your crew to incompetence. This is a situation you need to accept very quickly in Runner Dunk and Curve Digital’s Space Crew…
I’ll start off by making it clear, I’m never usually a fan of games like Space Crew… I prefer my space adventures a little more meandering, a little more solitary, and a whole lot less stressful, but I decided to give it a real chance. I strapped myself into my captain’s chair and was ready to take on its mad mix of survival, strategy, action, adventure.
Greeted with a crew of brand new recruits, I was gently taken through my first mission, training engines firmly in place, and soon found myself confident to take on a real mission. Now, after a while you’ll start to notice that missions get a little repetitive, after all, there’s only so many times you can transport precious cargo, fight off the race of Plasmids who want to eat your face or rescue a scientist from a space station that’s as stable as HAL’s ego. Each will range in difficulty which can make a difference, and the added bounties to really mix it up, but after playing for a short while you find that you’re in a mission loop.
Then, complacency will get the better of you.
Imagine the scene, HMS Curiosity was on her way back from successfully rescuing a scientist who found themselves on a space station that was about to blow. Just as the captain is making his way back to Earth, via a nearby jump gate, Plasmids start to pepper the radar. Swiftly the gunners were dispatched to their posts, the security officer offering a helping hand, and the engineer making sure she was routing the power to where it needs to be.
Within three minutes half the crew had been blown out of the airlock, and HMS Curiosity was on her own countdown to extinction.
It was then I realised the real draw of Space Crew, my previous transgressions didn’t matter! As I took a breath to mourn my level 5 crew, whom I had nurtured from level 2, I exhaled as I chose a brand-new crew and readied them for a new adventure. Taking stock of the lessons I did not learn from the previous fight, I outfitted these new baby-faced recruits with all of the toys the old crew had earned, and they were ready to take on the galaxy! My previous actions were inconsequential… The losses, forgotten…
It’s very easy to become attached to your crew. Your first will start out a lowly level 2s, not really know what they’re doing. But as they complete missions, perform with utmost competence, and fulfil the duties they were put on the ship to do, they’ll level up. At certain points of their levelling up path, they will unlock special abilities only available to that speciality. Gunners will earn the ability to focus their fire, or rather more dangerously, overheat the engines to make their attacks more deadly. The communications officer will unlock the opportunity to reach out to nearby squadrons and request additional backup when required. But, for me, the most important was the engineer’s ability to boost the performance of the ship, allowing them to focus more energy on shields, weapons, or engines.
Energy management is at the core of everything you do in Space Crew, and I found that more often than not I’d just let the rest of the crew manage themselves. Gunners would gun, communications would communicate, and the captain would captain. Meanwhile, the poor engineer is running around like a headless chicken, fixing everything, balancing power, and making sure the ship and crew had everything they needed to succeed. Unfortunately, this made it more of a Space Engineer game, rather than a Space Crew game, making it incredibly easy to lose track.
This is my biggest gripe with Space Crew… Sometimes your hardest moments felt like cheap shots. Too often my focus would be on the engineer, not realising that three Plasmids had boarded the ship. Before I knew it, they were making their way out of the cargo bay and into the ship. This time I was able to get the security officer to his station in time to flush them out, but if I hadn’t had to focus on a single crew member for so long, it would have been dealt with far sooner.
But, as I said earlier, this also is probably because I prefer my space adventures a little more on the relaxed side.
It’s not only your crew that get a little upgrade from time to time. As you complete missions, you’ll get some credits to spend on your ship! As time goes on, you’ll unlock a variety of upgrades which in time will make your ship stronger, more deadly, and fill it with all of the latest toys for your crew. Along with upgrading the internals, you’re able to apply a little bit of personal style to your ship, with a plethora of paint options, decals, and nameplates to really make it yours.
Space Crew was always going to have a tough time impressing me. I’m not usually a fan of games like this but I was pleasantly surprised. Yes it has it’s moments where it makes you wonder whose side it’s on, but generally, Space Crew is a fun way to spend an hour or two on a quiet afternoon. Sure I prefer my space adventures with a little more realism, but the clean visuals, the crisp audio, and the simple fun of the whole package will keep me coming back from time to time.