Space Crew is about to take sci-fi roguelike-likes and blast off into a brand new age of adventure when it arrives on 15 October. Prepare for takeoff with our first impressions of this colourful new title.
What is Space Crew?
Launching in a couple of weeks and coming straight out of Curve Digital upper docking pylon, Space Crew is an obvious follow up to developer Runner Duck’s previous title, Bomber Crew. Taking the FTL inspired real-time management of a WWII bomber and blasting it into the future, Runner Duck has crafted a title where little purple aliens lend more than a fresh lick of paint to the original Bomber Crew’s struggle to make it home in one piece.
Set in a far-flung future where the human race fends off attacks from little purple mischief makers called Phasmids, Space Crew does look very familiar to its predecessor. Gamers picking up the next generation for this series will find themselves in charge of a crew of spacefaring conscripts tasked to tear through the cosmos completing a range of missions in a decidedly rickety old space bucket. Despite a different color palette out in the depths of space, Space Crew presents the same humorous animation, light tone, and perspective that we experienced when we first saw Bomber Crew at Gamescom 2018. The same range of charming chibi Minecraft mix of character animation comes with a different them and a relevant sci-fi aesthetic.
Just as the aesthetic has changed, gameplay isn’t exactly the same for commanders in Space Crew. This 3D world has expanded somewhat. With a whole cosmos to explore, different missions to engage in and a new crew to take to the stars.
Meet The Space Crew
Meet my current Space Crew. Muller, Durand, Wagener, Buahin, and Persson are just five of the expandable automatons that Earths finest space force can take to the stars. Stuck inside a metal can called the Metallic Meteorite, these acceptably competent meat bags ensure that your carriage into the stars has a Pilot, Engineer, Comms Officer, Security Officer, and Weapon Officers ready to blast away potential threats. As much as any action outside the wafer-thin walls of any spacecraft is dependant on your wits, the capability and instructions given to this five-person crew within the confines of the Meteorite can make or break a mission. While warping through space, Space Crew provides two distinct control systems. The external camera allows commanders to set targets and end goals in the wider reaches of space, but most of the micromanagement goes on inside a spacecraft at the click of a button.
Switching to the internal camera provides an overview of the Metallic Meteorite. After selecting a mission and blasting out of space dock you’ll find each of the crew individuals strapped into their appropriate positions and ready for adventure. Each member of your crew comes with their own backstory, skillset, equipment loadout and progression curve. Just like you’d expect, taking on and completing missions without being ejected into space or blown up by Phasmoids rewards each of these space cadets with experience, new gear and even unlocks extra traits at higher levels.
Similarly, this progression curve exists for your own Metallic Meteorite, meaning there’s something of a risk-reward balance for every mission. While there are plenty of epic quests available for your faster than light adventures, early escort and delivery missions also provide lots of easy upgrades before you boldly go very far. These low risk adventure, selected while back in Space Dock, give players an opportunity to learn how to command the crew to change stations, use their special skills, operate the various stations on boards your spacecraft, make repairs, and fend off other threats.
When we eventually got out into the far reaches of the solar system, we found that Space Crew does indeed play a lot like Bomber Crew. Familiar control systems provide an easy entry for players jumping forward in time or even porting over from other FTL style sims. Missions, similarly have a recognizable format, tweaked for the far-flung future. Unlike Bomber Crew, however, Space Crew seems to require some extended internal micromanagement. There are far more threats to life and limb out in space meaning more systems can go down, repairs are riskier, and the dreaded Phasmids might even board you.
Admittedly, we’ve barely touched the first few steps into space and out first impressions are generally good. Space Crew is a fun twist on a successful format with a few new enhancements to keep it from being all the same game in a new skin. Whether we’ll feel the same way after the seventh season in this Space Crew preview, you’ll have to wait and find out in our full review. You never know, it might even score a Deep Space 9.
Find out more about Space Crew over at the official website before it launches onto PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.