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Rebel Galaxy (PC) artwork

Rebel Galaxy (PC) review

"Being a space cowboy can only be so fun until the lack of depth and grind-savvy nature brings things down."

Action games set in space tend to, at least from my point of view, fall into two categories; simulation heavy or too arcadey. As someone with an interest in space games, Iíve been after a game that falls somewhere in the middle of this spectrum while leaning towards the arcadey side, but such a balance is a pipe dream. Having pages of complex mechanics takes away the fun and asks me to resemble more of an actual space captain, but having too little makes me feel like Iím not in a space opera and more of a space spaghetti western. Rebel Galaxy may lean strongly on the arcade side of the spectrum, but for all of its options and customization choices when it comes to kitting out your ship, the strategy and tactical demand is downright non-existent, leaving my time in space feeling very lacking.

Rebel Galaxy feels more like space cowboys rather than a wide, expansive space opera, and the soundtrack certainly helps bring that out. While other action games in space tend to play with 3D movement or have overhead tactical views, Rebel Galaxy has capital ships locked to a 2D axis while smaller gunships and fighters can buzz around in 3D. This may sound bizarre, but the combat has been built around this fact; itís set up naval-style, as if ships were set on an ocean and not in space. The main source of firepower for both enemies and yourself will be the broadside cannons, side-mounted weaponry that can be charged up for better efficiency and accuracy. This results in capital ships jockeying for better position to unload their broadsides into opposition without receiving counter-fire of their own since a fully charged broadside volley will inflict heavy damage on shields and armor, nevermind tear gunships asunder. Your ship can also be equipped with turrets, secondary weapons like missiles or flak, and of course a variety of components and defensive measures which you will need if you want to survive later sectors. Combat will generally involve a handful of capital ships accompanied by a variety of fighters versus yourself, with the former also firing at you with their broadsides and whatever else they have. Your main strategy will likely be wiping out the fighters first before slipping behind capital ships to avoid their broadside fire - In fact this will likely be your only strategy through the whole entire game, unfortunately. Even with an assortment of different weapon types (lasers, energy launchers, mines, EMP, shield leechers, etc), buzzing in behind a ship to avoid being lit up by their main cannons can be a sure fire tactic if you can avoid other ships, although later on capital ships get incredible defensive upgrades that take a long time to whittle down. Ships have four stages of defense: Deflectors which can be drained to negate damage, shields that protect the armor plating on one of four sides of the ship, and finally the hull which is a shipís Ďhealthí. While the combat is lacking in terms of strategy and tactics, the frantic nature of large skirmishes never fails to be great fun to take part in regardless of if itís just you and a hired mercenary or if itís happening upon the local militia coming to blows with pirates. The fun is typically drained however when you encounter a fleet of fighters on their own who will swarm you in moments, spamming turret and missile fire that drain your defenses faster than you can blink, or when you warp to a new sector only to discover that the enemies there make short work of your defenses and you have to warp back in order to upgrade.

Speaking of upgrades, thatís where the vast majority of your money will be invested in - Better ways of blowing up people and better ways of keeping from blowing up. The archetypes to space game activities are combat, trade, mining, and missions, and these are all means of getting credits in Rebel Galaxy, although mining is a low payoff time-sink more than anything else. Destroying ships can result in dropped cargo or storage containers (glorified space treasure chests) full of loot, or a bounty reward if that ship is a wanted target. Cargo can be sold to traders or at stations through a simplified market system that fluctuates depending on activity in that sector, like armed conflicts requiring militaristic equipment or famine requiring foodstuffs to be delivered. Some enemy encounters will merit no reward whatsoever, ending up being a waste of deployable ammunition or money for repairs, but you can scan enemy ships to see if theyíre carrying anything of value, you can just warp away when at a safe distance if theyíre not (unless your engines are sabotaged by certain enemies). Missions will generally be the highest payout for credits, ranging from seek and destroy to cargo delivery, but near the final acts of the game upgrades and new ships cost an incredible amount. Near my final few hours Iíd have to run two or three missions before being able to even consider trading my old turrets up for a better model, and even then the upgrade in damage isnít all that spectacular. The most noticeable changes come in the form of your defenses, and as mentioned these are requirements regardless of the size and speed of your ship. Most of the time youíll be saving up for a new warp drive since basic flight is far too slow, but even coming relatively close to any ships, asteroids or debris will pull your ship out of warp, often forcing you to boost through the location until you can safely activate warp again. This makes getting around needlessly annoying unless you plan a specific route to avoid any locations, but later on enemies can disrupt your warp out of nowhere to initiate combat even if your route is between safely accessible stations.

There is a story to Rebel Galaxy and itís serviceable at best, unsavory types are after an alien artifact, and your character needs to find out more about it. The story has you hopping from mission to mission which takes you to other sectors where the danger and rewards grow. The jump in difficulty tends to come from enemy ships being sturdier and harder hitting rather than the mission objectives themselves becoming more complicated and involved. It leaves the game feeling incredibly repetitive, which would be tolerable if the basic strategy for encounters wasnít so simple and blunt. I did finish the game and even enjoyed myself for a majority of the time, but eventually the game became more of a dutiful march than an active desire to develop greater strategies in battle or examine the market closely to maximize my trading profits or to take on distant missions that require jumping to other sectors. With combat being the forefront of Rebel Galaxyís campaign, most of its brains and staying power tends to fall flat. Any hopes of having a fleet of your own ships is also kneecapped since youíre restricted to one mercenary at a time, and despite being able to command them via pausing the game and scrolling down a menu (which is clunky and poorly executed), they tend to have a death wish and wonít get out of dodge when in danger - Namely when flying into a barrage of cannon fire instead of taking a safer route of attack.

Rebel Galaxy may not have ended up scratching the space game itch Iíve been after, but it did give me around 33 hours of entertainment, with most of that being from side missions. Itís difficult for me to recommend the game unless youíre someone who is after a space game that leans heavily towards action and arcade-style gameplay with a lesser focus on the simulation side of things, but even then after multiple hours the gameplay begins to lack tactical value after using the same old silly routine of getting behind large ships and dumping all your weaponry into their backside. If more depth had been applied to the combat than I would give a definitive yes, but Rebel Galaxy ends up feeling far too simple-minded and dull in the end.


Dinoracha's avatar
Community review by Dinoracha (July 04, 2016)

Dinoracha is a world-renowned internet famous Let's Player, voice actor, writer, reviewer, e-sports competitor, masterful stream host and man of the people. These may or may not all be gross exaggerations.

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Zydrate posted July 04, 2016:

I reviewed this on my blog and I really liked it, and you bring up some of the same points. 3/5 is fairly accurate for a pretty solid game.
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Dinoracha posted September 08, 2016:

Crikey, I didn't even know this section of the forums existed. I can't tell how much trash has been spoken of my previous entries. ;-;
But yeah, I was first pretty psyched to roam around in space but near the end of the game it all just kinda went flat for me.

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