RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Aug 18th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under Action RPG, explosions, Space sim, Double Damage


When the first trailer for Rebel Galaxy hit, I knew I wanted it.  In only a few minutes, it spoke of adventure, "negotiation," and great looking combat with cool explosions!  What more could I want?  Funny question, exactly that!

When I first saw the game, I began to have expectations that were perhaps unrealistic.  Not that they were unfounded in any way, but with knowledge gathered solely from previews and trailers (I did not watch a single demo or video review) I knew it would be one of the few games in the action-RPG genre of space sims, and after all, I loved Starpoint Gemini 2, enough to put in more than sixty hours of playtime before I forced myself to walk away (gotta keep on The List).  So naturally, Rebel Galaxy would be right up my alley.  The only thing that worried me was that the game insisted that it was best played with a controller, but hey, different strokes, right?   After all, it was also released on PS4, so we can't expect our couch-based cousins to bust out a keyboard and mouse just to play a game, right?.



Diving into Rebel Galaxy with no knowledge or expectations of gameplay, one will find: a rich experience filled  with governments, factions, economies, and trade routes, beautiful vistas and deadly foes, and a surprisingly coherent story (though still not great or even good).  The latter is very significant considering that most stories in this genre are nothing more than excuses to get you to interact with different aspects of the game, like fighting or trading.  But before you discover any of  these positive elements, you will notice that there is no movement in the 3D plane by your ship at any time.


The official release trailer

What?  No, you heard me right:  No three-dimensional movement.  I know all the trailers and demos show you moving through space with the camera behind the ship at all kinds of angles, but not once do you move your ship on the z-axis.  In fact, the "up" control turns on your "boosters," which temporarily speed-up your ship and the "down" control is your brake (relative to your current throttle setting).  When I discovered this, I almost quit the game.  Completely my own fault (I know), but I really was sold on the trailer, which really looks like Starpoint Gemini 2 with actual character models and cooler looking explosions.  The short of it was that after about four hours, I stopped being a baby and started enjoying the game.  Turns out that Rebel Galaxy gets very deep pretty fast.

Like most space sim titles, the primary gameplay elements are combat and trading.  After all, one must make money to pay for better ships and weapons, and the best way to do that is generally through either (combat) salvage or running trade routes.  This hasn't changed in Rebel Galaxy, but it is different enough to warrant explanation.  Trading is more focused on trending prices within individual solar systems.  There doesn't seem to be much of a pattern, but you can easily tell that a space station is willing to pay more based on the "event" that is taking place.  There are about fifteen total events, ranging from Archeological Finds (lots of prices drop for this one) to Famine (food prices are high) and Market Glut (prices down on pretty much every conceivable item).  Getting said items for sale is either through crafty manipulation of the trade market, quickly taking advantage of and exploiting trends, and maybe even creating some of your own (prolonging the Arms Race event, for example, by destroying the Treaty Ship that spawns to end it), or from salvage through combat. 

Combat in Rebel Galaxy is very interesting.  In most space sims it resembles WWII dogfighting, but here it is very much like combat on water, since all capital ship combat happens within a two-dimensional plane (though fighters, annoyingly enough, travel in the full three-dimensions).  My favorite tactic, for example, was to quickly "boost" up to the side of the enemy ship, open up heavily with my broadside cannons and dumb-fire missiles, then boost away with my defectors on, either the enemy exploded or I was over-powered.  This is but one way to fight, and the skilled or smart can find any way to fight any ship.  I didn't use anything larger than a fast frigate (the second smallest class of ships), and have been able to take on dreadnaughts and survive (though there are limits to this tactic).  There is enough of a variety of ships that pretty much any way to battle that you can dream up can be utilized.  Do you want to turtle away and lob missiles and torpedos?  Please do.  Do you want to wade into combat and annihilate all foes with your overwhelming array of weaponry?  All it takes is a proper application of money and practice to get everything down right.

Speaking of money, one of the biggest (and most valid) complaints about space sims is the lack of variety for gathering resources.  It seems that over the years, developers have reluctantly added missions to games, but never variety.  Rebel Galaxy breaks this trend (sort of) by simply adding more things to do.  You can trade, as I have previously mentioned, but that's not really going to net you the cash you'll need to upgrade your ships, your ship's weapons (broadsides, turrets, and secondary), as well as your ship's defensive systems (hull, shields, and deflectors).  You'll need big money, and the easiest way to do that is missions and/or bounties.  One can pick up missions at any friendly station, which can be anything from destroying a local pirate threat to picking up and transporting a risky "dead-drop."  Generally, the more risk the higher the payoff, and as you gain the ability to travel to more solar systems, the payoff will generally be higher.  Bounties can be gotten from a bartender (for a minor fee) and will paint your map with a number of spots where baddies have gathered.  The only problem here is that the local military is likely also going after said baddies, and if they get there first...no bounty for you. 

Other ways you can get money are mining and searching junk and debris fields for cargo containers, which often contain money and various sellable resources (and sometimes weapons).  Really, it's more of a question of you finding something you like to do, and since sale prices for all ships and weapons are the same as purchase, there is more incentive to "try" them out.  Apparently, there is no depreciation in this galaxy, and frankly I love it.  In fact, it would be super cool to see this type of thing featured more in RPGs.


The title screen features a music-fueled, randomly generated battle, letting you know the focus of the game *from Hall of Explorers*

Graphics and sound in Rebel Galaxy are pretty good for the genre.  For graphics, your eyes won't bleed or anything, but there is a certain haunting beauty to space as it is represented in the game.  Scale is done very nicely, so that planets and objects get larger as your approach, with some getting rather large.  There is no planetfall in Rebel Galaxy, though you can sometimes get close to certain planets to see cloud movement, though not close enough to see flaws.  My personal favorites are the ringed gas giants that are sporatically located throughout the game.  They are very nice looking, and I usually come by to see their counter-rotating rings. 

Sound plays a key part of the game, not only because of the bar-style, rock soundtrack (which is fun but I ended up turning down at some point), but because of the aural cues.  Explosions are very satisfying if you have an okay sound system with subwoofer, and you will learn to fear the warbling roar of ships as they exit from warp as you desperately try and finish off a few bounties, or hurry to end a mission before you are overwhelmed.

Rebel Galaxy manages to provide quite a bit of enjoyable content and gameplay with a nice enough variety to keep one interested past the thirty-hour mark.  The combat is nice and fresh (due to its insistence of keeping movement to the second dimension only) and the ships and armaments are interesting enough to make you want to stick around for just a few more fights, just to see how more effective the slightly better some are.  And since it is only $20 USD in the PlayStation store (for PS4), Steam, or GoG, you will more than likely get more bang for your buck.  If you are getting it for PC, I highly recommend getting it from GoG, as it is DRM free.

Thanks for reading!



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Comments
 
Rebel Galaxy has been recommended to me more than once from Steam, I mean, with the Star Wars like subtitle font, Freelancer aesthetic, and Firefly sounding theme over the trailer, why wouldn't I want it?  Cheesy

As much as the game looks right up my alley and all the while I was reading your post I was nodding my head thinking, "mmmhhmm mmmhhmm, yep, yep, sounds great" I kinda just want to dwell on one point you made, game trailers tell me nothing anymore.

For the last year or so, I've really started to notice this. Trailers can be so ambiguous to gameplay. Of course there has always been cinematic trailers, mini movies made out of cutscenes or something external to the game. Cinematic trailers have been around all along and I don't mean those. Many trailers show gameplay, which is great, but show it poorly. I've watched trailers and decided the game was a fast paced action game only to find out it was a turn based strategy game. I've seen trailers for what looked like fast, Quake speed-like, FPS action only to later find out they were way more slow and tactical, I'm looking at you Overwatch. Looking at some of the platformers, it's hard to say, is it Meatboy hard or Thomas Was Alone entertaining? This or that grand strategy game trailer, are you telling me it's super in-depth with novel length instructions or are you ported from a fun and quick to play Android thing?

Of course there are ways to tease out this info, we can watch the game being played on Twitch, look at reviews, read comments, but we shouldn't have to to get basic gameplay info. Put out two trailers devs, a cinematic one and a gameplay one. Make your gameplay one clear. Well over 4000 games were released on Steam in 2016 alone, I only have so much time, make it clear what your game is in the trailer!
 
This looks pretty cool.  I played a TON of Starflight as a kid, and this seems like the Han Solo smuggler version of that, but prettier and more modern.  I might have to look into this more - nice write-up!
 
@nupoile: Kind of funny, but it is almost like game trailers are becoming as ambiguous as movie trailers, but the thing is I think a trailer full of red herrings is actually kind of an art, while the same for a game trailer feels like they are trying to hide inadequacies.  This leaves us with either previews (often just as filtered as the trailer) or reviews (spoiling fun game mechanics).  Bummer.  But let me just repeat what you wrote:  Over 4000 games released on Steam last year!  Madness, I tell you.  Thanks for stopping by, Nup.

@MetalFRO: It was a lot of fun, and kind of a surprise for that, which is frankly my favorite kind of experience.  Take STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, for example.  I expected a fairly straight FPS with some RPG mechanics, instead I find a very well done FPS with some heavy duty open world RPG gameplay with a smattering of survival horror.  Very nice.  Thanks for commenting!

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