One of the biggest surprises on the PAX South 2015 show floor was the sheer number of spaceship simulators. Everywhere you looked there was some space-based game, but finding the good ones could take some time. Rebel Galaxy was definitely one of the better space games, and one of the more enjoyable games at the show. The game offers a slightly simplified spaceship simulator experience, making you the captain of a ship as you make your own way in the galaxy. It looks gorgeous, it plays well, and biggest of all, it is coming to consoles.
Rebel Galaxy is a very open game, featuring procedurally generated “systems” that contain multiple planets and tons of missions. You complete these missions in any way you can think of. One that I was able to play through had me picking up some cargo. One I arrived at the designated ship they tried to make me pay more than the agreed upon amount to get the cargo. At this point I could pay the extra money, try to argue him down, or just blow him up and grab the cargo from the debris. You can guess which way I went.
This led to yet another surprise hidden within Rebel Galaxy: the combat system. Rebel Galaxy feels very much like a naval game in space, featuring 2D navigation across the galaxy. The combat fits this atmosphere nicely as your main weaponry is situated on the side of your ship. By bringing your ship alongside the enemy you can target and unleash your powerful lasers, tearing holes in the opposing ship with ease. You can, of course, customize and alter this to your tastes. I was able to add a turret to the top of my ship, allowing for full 360 degree combat, but doing much less damage. You can see a lot of this combat in the interview above. It really feels fun and engaging, without increasing the complexity beyond the desires of regular players.
That isn’t to say that Rebel Galaxy is a simple game, it is just a well designed one. The complexity comes more from choices that the player makes rather than being forced upon them by the mechanics. There are tons of different ship parts and other customizations to try out, all of which are up to you to save up for and buy. But once you’ve got the feel of the game you can get out into space and do some damage with little holding you back.
The universe itself is also a very complex place, as each system is procedurally generated upon your arrival. This means endless game possibilities even beyond the single player campaign. Missions themselves are generated for the player, keeping them busy long after the pre-packaged objectives are done.
The fact that it all looks gorgeous is simply a bonus. I was pretty shocked to find out that Rebel Galaxy is being made by just two people. The visuals, such as the way lasers fire across the emptiness of space, are truly breathtaking. In each combat scenario I found myself noticing new things that impressed me visually. The way ships take real damage as your lasers slam into their side was particularly enjoyable.
My time with Rebel Galaxy was some of the best at PAX South 2015. Flying around the system, taking on missions, and collecting money for new parts was great fun and I found myself wishing for more when my time was up. It hits a great middle ground between the extreme space sim, where you need multiple monitors and fancy controls, and the simpler affairs that usually come from indie developers. If you are a fan of sci-fi action then be sure to keep an eye out for Rebel Galaxy as it makes its way to store shelves.
Rebel Galaxy is set to release some time this year for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac.