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RymdResa (PC) artwork

RymdResa (PC) review

"Remember that time the Earth exploded and you went a little space crazy?"

RymdResa describes itself as a poetic space odyssey which is weird – that’s weird, right? I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when presented with a game described in such terms. Its developers went on to explain that it offers combat-free exploration while using abstract poetry in an attempt to convey the crippling isolation of space. My first playthrough ended in thirty seconds, with my explosive death.

The majority of my initial attempts also went similarly. You start the game stranded in the dead of space with no real clue as to what you’re doing and why, but there’s a vague pointer herding you in the direction of, I don’t know, something. When following it, I almost always fell afoul of a meteor shower or got sucked into the spiteful gravitational pull of a nearby sun. I did my best to blame my untimely demise on beginner-unfriendly mechanics, but the majority of the blame was on me. I flew my little spacecraft like a lunatic, consuming ludicrous amounts of resources and ramming face first into obstacles that I gave myself no way to avoid. Because, you know, space physics… A zero-gravity environment means you have to contend with momentum and drift, and you have to get used to the fact that because you’re heading at full pelt into that asteroid belt, you won't have time to reverse thrust enough to avoid smacking into it. As a bonus, your starting spacecraft seems to be constructed entirely from soggy tissue paper.

Crashing eats into your limited supply of resources, a statistic that covers both your health and your fuel. Move forward and you also consume resources. Use a boost to move forward more quickly and you eat even more resources. Drift lazily into a massive floating chunk of debris while you scramble frantically and pointlessly to manoeuvre in the opposite direction? Lose a great big chunk of resources. Get dragged in by one of those bastard suns you hear so much about? Die. Poof! Explosion. Game over.

Stage One exploits your confusion and overall weakness by asking you to visit several locations in your search for, I dunno, a new home? I think that was Earth that exploded a little while ago, so that would make sense – we’ll go with that. You can explore various planets you stumble across in your journey, as well as all manner of derelict craft that might just give you a resource boost or make their own little contribution to the story. That’s where the abstract poetry comes in, and it isn't nearly as obstructive as I initially feared. Sometimes, if you survive long enough, your astronaut will even chime in with a few verses about his crushing seclusion or his mounting indifference. He speaks in a weird, robotic, nasally voice. It’s suitably odd.

Just to jam the knife in, Stage One (out of three!) is by far the least forgiving of the lot, wearing its Roguelike inspirations most obviously on it sleeve. Of the levels on offer, it’s the one that punishes you most harshly for dying. Your task is to limp toward several mysterious locations without succumbing to space-death along the way. There are moments of mercy, though; explore enough and you’ll slowly find upgrades such as new engines and consumables that make you invisible or destroy all the threats around you. What’s remarkable about this is that improvements don't vanish when you die; you keep everything, including any pilot levels gained. Even as I bombed around like a suicidal idiot, I was slowly building toward a hardier state of competence.

The longer you last on each run, the more experience and 'space points' you acquire to use toward the purchase of one of eight ships for your next run. Points can be gleaned from staying alive long enough to fill out a year of in-game time, or by taking chances and exploring weird locations off the beaten path. Long dead satellites, barren rock worlds and swirling nebulae often have little secrets to impart, sometimes even rewards to discover. In other cases, like seemingly everything else in RymdResa’s pocket universe, a strange new location just wants you to die. But, odds are, you need those resources if you're going to complete your little quest, so you have to take that risk.

The chapters grow increasingly forgiving as you continue, regularly saving little snippets of progress rather than dooming all your work to the void. It comes at the cost of your sanity, though. I'm not sure if the odyssey contained within RymdResa’s three chapters isn't a secret chronicle of a lonely astronaut losing their mind, but the vastness of space contains many mysteries and all of them are odd as hell.

Collecting and recovering cosmic materials allows you to unlock more and more features in your crafts, giving you eventual access to shields, new add-ons and a basic map. Some of these do not seem to trigger as often as perhaps they should; early in the third stage, I unlocked the research ability. Immediately, I found a research pod floating serenely several meters away, but after that I never saw one again. I found other things out there in the never-ending canvas of empty space, though, things that didn't make sense but which left me wondering what else might still be waiting to be discovered…


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (August 20, 2015)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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