It’s an interesting day when I get to play a genre of games I’ve never partaken of before. With Space Crew, I dipped my space toe in the simulation management genre (if I’m correct in my assumption) and honestly, I was deeply fascinated.
Space Crew – Boldly going where I’ve never gone before
Space Crew is the sequel to WWII management simulator, Bomber Crew. The premise is you are a part of a futuristic space-faring organisation that is defending Earth from the dastardly Phasmids. As you set out with your own starship and your intimate crew you face off against the Phasmids in space battles. Meanwhile, you have to make sure that your ship survives each encounter as you travel across the Universe.
This is where you have to manage your crew as various mishaps begin to happen within your ship. For example, the oxygen generators can be broken which will slowly kill your crew. There is also the high chance of fires as you come under fire from the Phasmids. You have to make sure that you get your fire extinguisher in hand and put that fire out because if you don’t, well it’s going to spread and become a much bigger issue down the line.
You’re only as good a crew as your tools
Within Space Crew, you can customise almost everything, though you don’t get any new ships which is an unfortunate oversight in my opinion. You can pick up upgrades for both your ship and crew and if you’re feeling somewhat daring you can have them colour coordinate. You can design your interior deciding the number of tools you have available to you. You can have a majority of fire extinguishers for dealing with fires.
You could have a ship full of medkits, making sure if your crew go down you can save them from certain doom. Or you could fill your ship with phase rifles and space suits so you can fix anything that is broken on the exterior of your ship. Now with a ship filled to the brim with phase rifles you can kill any intruders. So all of of these have pros and cons and of course, there is a fascinating balancing act.
A crew of fools
What made Space Crew so fun for me and ultimately broke my heart was the crew itself. I named them all (of course) and tried desperately to keep them alive as each mission unfolded. Unfortunately for me, this game has quite a steep learning curve. If a crew member died during a mission and I didn’t attend to him within 30 seconds he would die permanently. It was tense, to say the least.
This was not helped by the fact this is my first foray into the much-loved genre. This left me in the terrifying scenario where I was freaking out as my ship was literally burning around me. At one point my captain went outside my ship (without a spacesuit) and tried to fix an engine only to die in the vacuum of space. It was chilling, well it would have been if the graphics weren’t so charming. Space Crew doesn’t push this current gen of consoles and PC to their limit graphically. Instead, it opts for an aesthetic that can be best described as sci-fi darling.
The nuts and bolts of the ship
Ultimately I found Space Crew an enjoyable romp around our solar system and beyond. The gameplay involving the space battles is engaging and surprisingly cinematic. They can become repetitive if you play it for extended periods. The mechanics involved with maintaining your ship are stress-inducing and if you’re new to the genre you will lose several members of your ship, I know I did.
What I ended up doing was lowering the difficulty and though it doesn’t have the same bite to it I am still enjoying it. And I’ll say this I will likely return to the more challenging difficulties once I have a better grasp of the gameplay.
There is also the major issue (for myself at least) of a lack of any kind of narrative. You expand the exploration by facing off against Phasmid bosses and though these battles look impressive This game relies on you falling in love with its gameplay and for the most part it works.
I can see seasoned players enjoying the difficulty of Space Crew, it is a testament to the charm of this genre and for its cost, you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for something new.