Rebel Galaxy may just be the best space western you’ve never heard of.
From the minds behind titles such as Diablo and Torchlight, this latest venture has players exploring deep space as a space raider, merchant, miner, friend to the galaxy or whatever kind of badass the player chooses to be. It’s part space simulation, part sandbox adventure and all parts awesome. Rebel Galaxy is as hot as a fully charged neutron beam ready to take down a capital ship.
This deep space epic begins when your Aunt Juno sends you access codes to her old ship and a message to meet her in some backwater space station. It turns out, she isn’t there; you’re met, instead, by a chunky, but friendly alien who’s been asked by Juno to give you a mysterious relic of the past. Through some shady space-version of back alley deals, you discover the secrets of the ancient relic and set out to ride the azure frontier of the galaxy.
Players are given a basic ship to start their adventure with. From then on, it’s only a matter of time and credits before you are able to purchase armor upgrades, new weapons, mercenary bodyguards and even bigger ships. Rebel Galaxy excellently keeps players going at a strong pace throughout the game, providing enough credits for the right upgrades at the right time. There are tons of ships and weapons to unlock and some of them are only available to certain factions.
Weirdly enough, Rebel Galaxy is a space adventure video game that thrives on a 2D plane. Just the sound of that may be off-putting to some, but once you hit warp speed for the first time or blast down heavy cruisers for a bounty you’ll realize the game doesn’t suffer just because player ships cannot fly up or down. Fighter ships on the other hand, which are only under A.I. control, move seamlessly in a 3D space. Any other pedestrian sized ship or capital destroyer moves in the same plane as the player does. Once you get used to navigating the world, combat, which is probably Rebel Galaxy’s most satisfying nuance, is next on the block.Players can outfit their ships with different kinds of turrets, broadside canons, mines, EMPs and missiles. The broadside cannons are a commander’s best friend. Switching to these weapons, the camera will sway to one side so players can charge up, aim and fire their broadside canons in a glorious hellfire of space retribution. Upgrade your canons as often as possible as they are absolutely intergral to a ship’s arsenal. The mines, EMPs and missiles work as secondary weapons. With the press of a button, you can release smart mines that seek out bigger enemy ships or storm the atmosphere and shut down fighter pilots with an EMP blast. Missiles come in two forms: homing and dumbfire missiles. While the dumbfire missiles require precise aiming, as they cannot lock on to a ship, they inevitably do tons more damage.
Turrets automatically fire at the closest enemy, but you can change the behavior of your ships turrets through the tactical ship page in the menus. Adjusting whether you want your top turrets to focus only on your target or designating a single turret to aim only at fighters is a subtle mechanic that adds so much depth to the combat. A novice space voyager may leave his turrets to freely target anything as he or she roams the galaxy, but a more experienced captain can deal with pesky fighters one minute and then titan-like starships the next minute. Even the smallest ships can have the most devastating arsenals. But, it takes a a versatile captain to utilize their ship, shields and weapons for maximum effect.
When I first started up Rebel Galaxy, I was extremely impressed at the pure vastness of space. The dark blue recesses of the universe stretched for what seemed like forever. Between sectors, there were deep winter asteroid fields, crimson and purple nebulae, raider bases, merchant stations and so much more. Rebel Galaxy is a blue cascade of western grit mixed with the sterility of space; and it looks fantastic. Explosions are epic cloudbursts of metal and the sight of incoming missiles is terribly believable. Kudos must be given to the design team for they created one hell of an aesthetic for Rebel Galaxy.
It’s easy to outright say that Rebel Galaxy is a great game, but a review cannot be written without mentioning the hard hitting soundtrack. Rebel Galaxy boasts one of the best recent soundtracks for an adventure game. The ramble tamble jangle and riff-heavy guitars of the American rock songs kicks so much ass you’ll feel like a midnight trucker hopped up on pep pills gunning down an empty freeway. It’s that good. The PC version of Rebel Galaxy allows players to import their own music, but I felt doing so would be sacrilege against the brilliant soundtrack.
If there’s something to complain about with Rebel Galaxy, it’s the odd difficulty spikes. There were plenty of moments when an “average” difficulty task turned into a Benny Hill skit where I was hightailing it away from 4 space cruisers. Mission difficulties are labeled from “low” to “very high” to give Rebel Galaxy players a hint at what they’re getting into. If a mission can’t be beaten the first time, try your hand at smuggling contraband through a military blockade for a not-so-easy, though epic payday. You’ll probably get your ship blasted into scrap metal faster than you can throw up the deflectors, but the game doesn’t make dying frustrating. You’ll most likely load into the last space station you docked at.
Rebel Galaxy was a complete unknown to me. But after seeing one single trailer, I buckled down and purchased the game. I’m really happy I did. Rebel Galaxy is a value title at its normal price of only $20, but the sheer amount of content and space travel make this sandbox game feel far beyond its budget pricing. The breadth of space to explore is absolutely mesmerizing. With 14 randomly generated sectors, there’s tons of places to find and even more to accomplish. Just in the very first sector, I spent ten hours gunning down bounties, picking up dead drops, running contraband from one station to the next, and trying my hand at the mining system. In a galaxy this big, it would be amiss were there more empty space than objectives to accomplish. Rebel Galaxy, amazingly, will fill the mission logs faster than you can engage warp speed.