For anyone that doesn’t know, Space Crew is a crew management game, where the player is in control of a space vessel and the little Minecraft-looking crew members. Each little dude, or dudette, sits at a station and has a purpose, and my job is to issue commands to each of them, so they are expected to carry out their tasks in order to complete the objectives and return safely to their families…yeah, because I can manage that without screwing up…maybe.(“I sure hope I don’t die.”)
Despite my clearly undeserved promotion, I take up this task with enthusiasm and take part in the opening mission where I must fix some sort of satellite thingy. My ship takes off from a station and is now hovering above planet Earth, which rotates very slowly, looking majestic from all the way up there. The UI is very simplistic, it doesn’t take up much room on my screen, although I’m in space so there’s not a lot to see, but my objective is in the corner and my crew can be seen on the left, with the ship’s status just below. The ship isn’t flown manually, I need to target where I need to go and “tag” it as a waypoint for my captain to then steer the ship in that direction, which was a little disappointing. I’m not the best behind the steering wheel, but there aren’t many things in space for me to crash into, and I wanted to fly around like a dick in space for a while. Alas, that wish was not to come true.
(“That’s not 2 meters Frank!”)
Anyway, I followed the objectives, blasted into hyper-space for about 2 seconds to reach my waypoint and as soon as I stop, I get jumped by a bunch of god damn aliens that just want to wreck my ship. So, I order some of my crew to the guns and tag the enemy ships and just sit and watch as my team struggle to shoot little glow sticks at the moving targets that also do the same. This part is also automated, so I am relying on those little shits to not balls everything up whilst my ship takes it hard in every direction, like it ticked every box on the application to the casting couch and just prepared itself for the unholy smashing it was about to receive.
The shields were up, taking most of the hits and my ship just sat there until every enemy was just a speck of dust travelling through the empty void. The laser sounds, little impact noises, and visuals were very nice, especially when I see the little flashes of light when my honeycomb-patterned shield is forced to prevent my space boat from sinking. This would have been another good opportunity to allow manual movement, as the best way to avoid damage is to not be there in the first place.
(“Indicate next time you prick!”)
After watching for a few minutes, and praying for minimal damage repairs, all my enemies were gone, and I could carry on with my day. When I found the satellite thingy, tagged it and moved to it, there was a short scene where my engineer move the piece that needed repaired into our cargo bay. I then got my engineer to go inside, do his thing, and then sent it back out to be reattached. There, job done, and now it’s time to go back to the base and have some drinks with the boys, and girls. The home base acts as some sort of hub for the game. I can move to the mess hall where there are soldiers wandering around, sitting at tables, and see the news on a big TV screen, or I can recruit new members for the different positions available in my ship, outfit them with new gear or upgrade my spacecraft. Completing missions earns me some credits, which I can spend on new stuff. I kept my crew but bought them some nice outfits, aiming to get better stats, but also to make them look good. I like my team to match one other and look professional at the same time. But it meant spending all my credits on a few people, so I failed there. It just meant I had to go on to my next mission and keep the money flowing. Still, I done a little window shopping for my ship and found lot of nice extra toys that I could put together to make things a lot easier when missions get dangerous, like better and more accurate weapons, fire extinguishers to put out…yeah, you‘ve guessed it, Mormons. It’s good for fires too but there are usually a lot more religious folk that come knocking.
So, I renamed and recoloured my ship and went to the mission select screen and set off on my next adventure, with a nice pay-out upon completion. So, it’s time I got to what I liked and what I didn’t like on this preview. I’ll start with the good. There is a nice selection of customizable options to improve the ship and crew, making mission success much higher, and improving the aesthetic. We all wanted to design our ships, feel like we’re responsible for a crack team of space explorers and battle ugly aliens for the domination of mankind.
(This bastard is top of the shit list!)
What, not all of us? Well that’s just sad but whatever. Space Crew does capture that a little, and I liked sending those little people around to different parts of the ship to put out all of the little fires, magically fix the damage, jump on to their battle stations and just do their work so that we can all go home and call it a day. I like that there is a lot of nice little features, such as crew getting sucked out into space, needing to direct power in the ship to what is needed at the time such as the weapons, shields and engines, and seeing them all run around with those tiny legs. I get to micromanage, but it also means I’m the one to blame when it blows up in my face.(“Damn it Steve! This is all your fault!”)
Speaking of blowing things up, whenever there is damage to the ship it appears visually as scorch marks, cracks and visible damage, signs that you just survived a climactic showdown with blue arsed flies with lasers. The music and sounds are on point, lending themselves to the nice colours of space and the show of lights coming from every battle. Your crew will update you on anything of note, with text appearing beside their names listed on the side of the screen, so if anything is damaged, there is a lack of power, whatever it might be, they’ll make a point of saying it so we’re reminded to check the status and health of out shields and power supply.(“Captain, we’ve taken some damage”…”No shit Steve!”)
Also, having the crew available on the screen makes it easier to deliver orders when under pressure, especially when you need to move quick because switching camera views can take up precious time, especially when you’re like me and you can’t remember where everyone sits (honestly, that’s a character flaw of my own). The camera view ranges from being zoomed out for a full view of your surroundings, to being up close and having a look through the hull and seeing the inner layout of the ship itself. It just means that I can sit inside the ship, give the marching orders and then zoom out a little and watch as they’re carried out by the finest team of idiots from our blue planet.(“Holy shit we’re in space!”)
Now, I’ll go over the few things I thought could be different. Firstly, this was a big learning curve for me. Yeah, a personal flaw, but when things get hairy and I have so much to manage it just means there is an information overload. I’m not familiar with the game or its mechanics, having never played the previous one that I said I would never mention again. The tutorial was easy to follow, but it can be hard to remember what needs to be done to manage all the events that transpire, and I ended up getting blown up a couple of times.(“Did i remember to turn the shields on?….”)
This is because there is a lot to keep an eye on, and I must remind everyone to do everything, and you would think that the crew would know to put out a damn fire when it pops up instead of my security officer telling me that there is a fire. Well, put it out you nut. I would have preferred there to be voice actors too. Having to read the text and take everything in when I would rather hear little stereotypical military voices, even goofy ones, would be a little more immersive and take away another task from me so that I can then respond more quickly. I wish I could control the movement and direction of the ship. The captain is the pilot, I am the captain (sort of), so shouldn’t I be the one to fly the ship instead of just selecting waypoints and watching it fly over? It would make battles more involving if I could manoeuvre out of harms way, maybe even fire some shots, but I’m relying instead on stats and happenstance to survive. I won’t deny the fact that there is a strong element of strategy, and that my decisions and responsiveness is what is important, but things can happen quickly, so if I could even pause things briefly, set up my commands, and then resume play it would allow me to get through the harder stages with less blowing up.
(Doug the janitor, the real MVP of Earth’s defence team)
The game isn’t released yet and won’t be until later in the year. I only got a glimpse of what is on offer so there is likely to be much more that we have yet to see. I like the strategy element, that there is a lot to manage, that it’s all colourful and cartoonish. Each character plays a role and they have their own skills which need to be used to make the best of them. For an indie game there is plenty of customization and player involvement, but at the same time it would be nice if I could take control of the actions instead of relying on the crew doing what I want it to do.
I got really immersed with this, as anything with a management system absorbs me as soon as I get stuck in, especially a game that gives me a ship and some mini soldiers. I think I’ll get the full game on release because it’s something a little different and I want to see what else it offers. I had fun playing through the short preview, the missions were interesting, and the battles looked good, even if I wanted to take control and do the fighting. It’s the side of space battles we never see much of in the movies, so it’s not a bad thing, I just want to steer the ship, even if I am a shit pilot. I am hoping that there are lots of places to visit, some depth given to the enemies, and a lot of lore to put some life into the game. The crew could do with some banter as well, another reason to have voice acting, to give them their own personalities.