It’s safe to say the niche genre of the sci-fi western has been thoroughly explored.  Games like Borderlands, Wasteland, Fallout, and Defiance follow heroes on the outlands of society, trying to make a living through their weapons and wit.  But while many of these games have told the trials and tribulations of people surviving on the raggedy edge of space, few have actually charted the stars with such a motif.  This final frontier of space is the setting of Rebel Galaxy, Double Damage Game’s open-world, action, space-shooter.  Seemingly drawing its inspirations from the underbelly of settings like Star Wars and Firefly, Rebel Galaxy is all about working as a freelance gun-for-hire in the far reaches of the universe.

Rebel Galaxy begins with you receiving a message from your aunt asking you for help.  You take her old ship and go to search for her in Rust City.  Your aunt has left one clue behind for you about her whereabouts, an amnestic AI system which is searching to learn more about itself and its creation.  The story comes in fragments after completing your primary missions, but I didn’t have time to get too deep into it as I was busy running the side missions and making sure my ship wouldn’t get outmatched by the rogues wandering the black of space.greelInstead of letting me get too far into the story, the preview focused on the controls, side quests, and the general world constructed by the two-man team.  The loop of the gameplay revolves around completing missions, getting paid, and upgrading your ship.  Most of these instructions are delivered lifelessly through a hub screen in the many space-station towns which litter the solar system.  It was a bit of a bummer to find that while all of these stations have descriptions which vastly separates them from each other, they all look, sound, and feel the same. The difference between these stations are only represented in their markets which will value goods differently and make certain items illegal.

The repetitiveness of the world leaks out from the stations and waters-down the exploration side of Rebel Galaxy.  There are different classes of enemy ships, but the low-life gangs like the DoubleJacks and the Red Devils all look alike.  Whether it’s asteroid fields, planets, other space ships, there seem to be a lot of reused assets throughout this digital galaxy.

I don’t mean to sound too harsh here.  Rebel Galaxy has some moments that are stunning in more ways that just one.  Punching your ship into warp speed and staring into the brilliant colors of the galaxy can be truly beautiful, as is flying past a small star.  Rebel Galaxy has some spectacular moments, it’s everything in between these moments that feel like deja vu.nebulaBut let’s face it, Rebel Galaxy isn’t about flying around, gazing into infinity, it’s about blowing up bad guys – or good guys, depending upon how you play.  Many of the missions accepted at your local space station will involve space battles and Double Damage has put in some effort to make these shootouts feel fantastic.  The action is Rebel Galaxy is mostly shooting as you switch between your turrets and broadside guns.  However, you still have to manage your resources while firing away at incoming ships.  You will usually have special ordinance missiles which can be fired off at any time, and a deflector shield which can be used to negate any incoming damage.

Positioning is also a major factor in Rebel Galaxy.  You have four different sectors of your shields: front, rear, port, and starboard.  This forces you to be tactical when firing upon enemies.  If you’ve knocked out rear shields, but the enemy turns their ship so you hit the starboard side, all of your hard work goes down the drain, forcing you to begin your barrage anew.  Forcing shields down, firing missile to breach the hull, and maneuvering your ship away from damage is when the game is at the height of its fun.

screenshot-station-shipyardThe whole package is tied together with a guitar score which is bound to get your blood rushing.  While exploring the far reaches of space, you’ll hear the subtle strumming of folk-like acoustic guitar, emphasizing the feeling of being in the backwood reaches of the galaxy.  However, once you get into battle, the score changes to power rock with distorted guitar tracks underscoring the ship-to-ship carnage.  The music is the biggest aesthetic nuance in Rebel Galaxy, a bold choice in a game that shoves aside the science and thoughtful aspects of sci-fi space travel to make it more bad ass.

This seems to be a small slice of Rebel Galaxy, but the ideas exhibited by Double Damage are good ones.  But the game feels sparse and repetitive, which eats away at the dramatic space battles and thrilling music underscoring it all.  Hopefully Rebel Galaxy can find an overarching design which is more interesting, because there are cool concepts at work.  I definitely plan to keep my eye on Double Damage and Rebel Galaxy as the game edges closer to launch.

About The Author

The Glorious Predecessor

As I write this, I am listening to Striking Matches and eating a blueberry muffin. The music is good, the muffin is even better. I dance when I drink and have been known to occasionally free-style rap, none of which benefits society.

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