Reviews

Space Raiders In Space – Steam Review

FruitsNDoggie reviews Space Raiders In Space. A roguelike, management, tower defense game.

Space Raiders in Space was a game I deliberated picking up for a while because I didn’t know what to think of the gameplay. Seeing multiple characters on screen, looting and erecting barriers, while shooting at giant insects, made me think juggling everything would be a pain. However, after checking out some videos on it, I was more interested in trying it.

Gameplay

There are three game modes in Space Raiders In Space: Story, Endless, and Survival. Story has you follow the main plot line for what’s taking place, unlocking new equipment after each chapter. Your crew handles matters by exploring their environment for important resources, which you turn into defensive barriers. Thankfully there’s a few weapons left behind as well, since weapons degrade with use. Of note, the materials you have as you finish a chapter carries over to the next one, so even if you do manage to narrowly scrape by and survive, you might screw yourself for the next round.

This principle also applies in Endless and Survival Mode. Endless Mode emphasizes getting a high score, as you travel from one location to the next. The objective is to balance gathering enough resources, particularly food, to survive the trip to the next location. However, staying in one place makes the waves of insects stronger. Survival removes any idea of moving somewhere else, as you stay in place and see how long you’re able to last. With enemy forces gaining strength every wave, and nowhere else to go, it’s only a matter of time until you meet a grisly fate.

Controls

The game can be played with a controller, but with how it functions as a strategy game, I found it easier just to follow the tutorial and use the mouse and keyboard. There are shortcut keys available to bring up some of the menus, but I relied on the mouse to bring them up myself. Otherwise, the mouse is used for interacting with all of the items in the game. It functions well enough, though the UI feels a bit cluttered or clumsy at times.

Story

Human beings are exploring the cosmos, a few astronauts make contact with a hive mind alien race, and it actually leads to peaceful coexistence. However, they suddenly turn hostile, and the astronauts desperately try to reconnect with humanity. Story elements unfold both in the gameplay and in-between chapters. The tone of the story is largely sober, as far as the events taking place, but the writing, character interactions, and voiceovers don’t take it very seriously. It’s an odd blend, but it kind of works.

Visuals

Not only does SR make use of a comic book style in its visuals, it’s also heavy-handed with darkness. Such a thing is typically done to reinforce a moody or serious tone, making everything seem gritty, but the effect here is that the colors contrast strongly against so much black background. Space Raiders In Space also lampoons the potentially dour tone by interspersing goofy dialogue and commentary from the narrator. Either way, I like this approach to the aesthetic. This coloring and style aren’t something I see in games often, and I’m a sucker for blue and purple.

Sound Design

With a soundtrack not nearly as striking as the graphics, the music in Space Raiders In Space sounds like eerie ambient noise, as if what you’re experiencing is really suspenseful or unnerving. It’s tone doesn’t quite fit with how the game plays, even if it does have a sci-fi vibe to it. The sound effects are fitting for the game, but could be balanced better with the music. I think most people would like the voice acting, although Jimmy’s voice can get a bit old with his bruh stereotype.

Pros

🌟 Being able to set up your own barriers allows for creativity in determining the best line of defense, as there are ways to manipulate the AI. For instance, enemies are pretty single-minded in finding the shortest route, while also prioritizing defensive points. If you place turrets out of their pathways, they’ll still be shot at, but typically won’t bother destroying the turret.
🌟 Unlike many games dealing with monstrous aliens, in theory the ones in the game had no issues intermingling with humans. That is, until the fire nation attacked.
🌟 Although the comic book style has been implemented before, Space Raiders In Space still has its own unique flair and attitude. It’s not quite like anything else I’ve played.

Cons

❌ Even though the game revolves around micromanaging each character, your ability to control their actions is limited. Setting all raiders to defend won’t necessarily lead to all of them taking enough shelter to prevent being attacked, since they act like they’re social distancing or something. If they’re too deep in defenses and you set them to attack, they’ll advance beyond your walls to fire on enemies. Not being able to position them directly is a limitation.
❌ Like tower defense games, you can have a very successful run until the last wave, and make a mistake that gets one of your characters killed, wasting all of the time you just spent playing through the chapter. You can save and quit from any mode at any time, and return where you left off, but dying won’t reload that save. It’s deleted instead.
❌ Figuring out how the map is intended to face and where you’re theoretically supposed to build up your defenses is at times unclear. The UI for building new items can also be hard to make out.

Tips

🔍 It’s a good idea to have at least a few layers of walls, so you have an emergency barrier to hunker in if necessary. Turrets and caltrops aren’t expensive but increase your DPS, so generously scatter them around. When you get the ability to build a defense point, replace portions of your outer walls with them. These protect your allies against AOE attacks, which walls won’t do, and when in defense mode, they’ll hunker down in the defense point much closer to the enemies than otherwise.
🔍 After killing the last enemy in a wave, turn on planning mode and select items you want repaired or built. Then at the start of the cool down phase, manually select your best characters for building to work on those projects as the others search. Searching doesn’t take a long time, but if you have everyone take long walks to get to the search points, you won’t have enough time to both search and build.

Final Thoughts

I was a bit perplexed by what the developers expected me to do within a few of the early chapters, as the defenses I were setting up didn’t cut the mustard. However, after getting past those initial humps, I got a better grasp of how to approach the game and manage the few variables it presents. After getting more comfortable with Space Raiders In Space, I enjoyed my time with it, although it wasn’t without some flaws. Handling all of the characters could be made more clean and simplistic, but micromanaging tends to clutter things up no matter the approach. Unless you get really sucked into Endless or Survival Mode, the game would last you about 12 or so hours, so I’d recommend picking it up on sale.

You can also check out Seth’s review of the game for an alternate perspective.

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