Runner Duck is easily one of the most creative developers working in games today. They debuted with Bomber Crew that brought fresh new ideas whilst not being afraid to tinker with some popular mechanics. Their next game Space Crew is a continuation of the Bomber Crew format, but this time with a little bit of Star Trek in it.
Courtesy of Curve Digital and Runner Duck, we were fortunate to get the opportunity to preview the opening section of the game and check out its gameplay. The great news is that we had a lot of fun playing the game, and our first impression is positive!
Space Crew takes place in a future where an alien race has defeated us. This attack prompts the different nations of Earth to unite to combat the extraterrestrial threat to reclaim our home.
Just like its predecessor, Space Crew centres around managing your ship efficiently, putting you in control of different crew members, ranging from a captain to engineers. Each role has its unique benefits that allow them to keep the ship running in different ways. It plays similarly as well, where you can move any of the crew members around freely to interact with other parts of the ship.
Since this is a voyage themed game, you do get extra features around space travel, giving your engineer the ability to reroute power based on your situation. You do have a set number of power bars to begin with, and aspects like Shield, Gravity Generator, Weapons, or Engine do require at least one bar to work. It feels like a useful mechanic in the scope of the game whilst paying homage to classic sci-fi shows, where you’d hear the captain shout about rerouting power.
Whilst it might seem simple on paper, optimal management of your power levels does require a bit of strategising to get out of the more challenging encounters. You’d want to keep your space crew moving around as often as possible based on the situation. Whilst this does take some effort, it does feel rewarding when you complete a challenging encounter.
Like Bomber Crew, the game uses a tagging mechanic for moving to a destination or attacking enemy ships. You do this through a camera that you can orbit around your ship, finding points of interest by aiming at them. Enemies have to be similarly tagged so your gunners can fire at them.
The game’s progression is split between standard missions and bounties, each giving you a different task to complete. Some of the early objectives saw us either delivering a package, rescuing people, or salvaging items. Each mission states its difficulty as well, prompting you to prepare in advance.
Preparation is just as crucial as crew or power management in this game. Through the game’s varied customisation options, you can personalise your crew and ship to your playstyle and taste. You can customise everything from what your team looks like to the visuals of your ship.
Customisation options for your crew are split between cosmetic and non-cosmetic items, letting you change name and appearances as well as their clothing. However, specific gear can affect performance, which makes you consider the strength of your crew members and their duties in order to equip them with the best loadout. If someone like the engineer moved around a lot, you would want to pay attention to their mobility, or armour for the combatants.
The ship can be customised as well, allowing you to choose everything from your colour scheme to different liveries. You are free to rename the vessel to your liking and similarly to the crew, there are non-cosmetic items that you can equip, allowing you to place certain pieces of equipment around the ship, like spacesuits, weapons, and more since your characters do not inherently carry these.
The various customisation options, as mentioned above, come together to give you ownership of your team, whilst making certain choices a matter of life or death. The crew can level up as well, further presenting another management freedom that lets you invest in your favourite characters. You can also recruit new crew members after rescuing them!
Visually, the game follows a similar low-poly aesthetic as seen in Bomber Crew. This art style prefers exaggerated style over realism. Not to mention, the sci-fi sound effects mix with the sweeping orchestral music to intensify the atmosphere. It makes you feel as if you are playing a grand space opera, throwing you in bouts of both tension and awe.
We were especially pleased to see that there was an option for enlarging your UI, which will help people with visual disabilities and those that prefer to play on a bigger screen in a higher resolution.
Overall, we enjoyed what we have played so far, and are excited to jump back into the game once it releases on the 15th of October. Space Crew will be available for the PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Those interested can give the available demo a try on Steam as well.