Saturday, July 9, 2016

Rebel Galaxy Review (XONE)

From the moment good ol’ southern rock starts blaring at you when you boot the game, you know Rebel Galaxy is a different sort of game than the other space sims on Xbox One.  Rebel Galaxy is sci-fi mixed with the old west featuring massive capital ships instead of dinky fighters and is a total blast to play.  Our full review has the details.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Double Damage Games
  • Developer: Double Damage Games
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: Space Sim
  • Pros: Great soundtrack; cool ship designs; satisfying combat
  • Cons: Bad story; repetitive missions
  • MSRP: $20

Rebel Galaxy is a single-player only game that plops you into a procedurally generated universe with the task of finding your character’s Aunt Juno.  What you do from there is totally up to you – mining resources, smuggling contraband, joining a militia to fight pirates, transporting legal goods, etc. – but your best bet is probably to follow the story missions which are your fastest route to upgrades and bigger and better ships.  The story itself is kind of lame and the various alien species that populate the game are pretty clich├ęd and predictable, but the overall Wild West in space theme is strong and very appealing. 

The real draw of Rebel Galaxy is that it starts you out in a capital ship.  Unlike every other space game that makes you work your way up from slow freighters or dinky fighters or something, Rebel Galaxy just hands you the keys to a star destroyer right from the get go.  And as you play and earn money, you’ll gain access to even bigger and better and more powerful and cooler looking ships until you’re strong enough to obliterate fleets of enemy ships all by yourself.  That’s pretty awesome. 

Gameplay in Rebel Galaxy is much more arcade-like than other space sims and offers much simpler controls than something like Starpoint Gemini 2.  Controls are just simple button commands, simple menus, and point and shoot combat.  This is understandable as the game is focused more on combat than exploration and realism, so letting you just jump in and start blasting away, easily jumping to hyper speed, and having fun right away was the right decision.

Combat is interesting in Rebel Galaxy because it features oldschool traditional naval broadside cannons as your main weapons.  The key to combat is keeping your ship positioned relative to the enemy so your broadside cannons have a clear shot, but you also have to be aware of your hull and shield strength on each quadrant of your ship.  The idea is that you keep your best hull strength and full shields towards the enemy while also maneuvering around so you can shoot them with your broadside cannons.  You also have other weapons like turrets and lasers and mines and missiles and stuff, but you can let the A.I. handle those while you focus on the main cannons.  It gives Rebel Galaxy a really unique feel compared to other similar games since positioning is so important.  The game is a little slower paced than most space games, too, but the combat is really strategic and satisfying.

Outside of combat, the basic gameplay rhythm has you accepting missions at stations, doing the missions, earning credits, and buying new weapons / upgrades / ships before accepting new missions and doing it all over again.  The missions are a little repetitive as they’re almost all just “go to point X, kill enemy Y”, but the constant stream of better weapons and ships to play with makes up for it.  The lust for power is real in Rebel Galaxy, which makes the grind for new toys to play with worth it.

Rebel Galaxy isn’t as pretty as Starpoint Gemini 2, but it does look nice overall.  Exploration isn’t really the focus here, anyway. That isn’t to say the star systems featured here aren’t bright and colorful and good looking, just not as good looking as some other games.  Combat is the real star here, and the ship designs are absolutely fantastic and the game runs at a solid framerate regardless of how crazy the battles can get.  The sound is extremely well done overall with the awesome southern rock soundtrack that steals the show, but some great sci-fi sound effects and surprisingly believable spoken alien languages. 

In the end, Rebel Galaxy is the best arcade-style space sim for Xbox One yet.  The combat is strategic and satisfying, the universe you explore is interesting, and the presentation is just right.  I have to admit the soundtrack might be off putting for some people because it is pretty in your face, but I loved it.  I also love the $20 price tag, which is just about perfect.  If you have any interest in space sims, definitely give Rebel Galaxy a try.

Disclosure; A review code was provided by the publisher.