Space Run Review – MOUSE n JOYPAD

Space Run Review



Being a game reviewer, there is but a few titles I return to every once in a while. Due to the fact that an average day has only 24 hours, I suffer from a severe lack of time to play as much as I’d like to. Thus, I have to be very selective about what I play and when. Needless to say, only rare titles make me want to play them again after completion. I’m happy to announce that Space Run indeed is one such game.

The latest trend in game development is the hybridization of genres. There has barely been a game in the last couple of years without some RPG system tacked onto it. For better or worse, varies from game to game, but it’s very interesting to see all the new and cool ideas that are often spawned from this practice. Space Run tries its hand at some tower defense elements, but cleverly camouflaged and blended together with some brand new gameplay mechanics. But first things first – the two protagonists of the game are Buck Mann, the pilot of the ever-changing ship you will be manipulating through the game and Adaam-12, the snarky android co-pilot who is bound to make you laugh from time to time. This dynamic duo, despite living in the 26th century, communicate among themselves and with their employers in a manner not entirely dissimilar to the „old“ sci-fi movie characters, giving away the impression of a cheesy and flashy B-list movie. I know this sounds lame on paper, but in practice, it’s a wonderfully realised love letter to the ages long gone, at least as far as characters and dialogue goes.

The story is not important here, since it doesn’t affect the gameplay even a bit. The gameplay itself, however, will certainly intrigue just about everyone. Every level begins with the player-controlled spaceship docked at the station – an empty canvas on top of which you will smack all sorts of machinery to adapt it to the situation at hand. Since the primary objective is always to transport a specific type of cargo from one station to another, you will have to find place for that, too. Some of these packages will require additional tidbits to function properly, or have specific placement needs that will have to be fulfilled before hitting the… well… universe. After outfitting the ship as you see fit, you will kick the engines up and begin your stride towards the finish line. Aside from the alarmingly often pirate attacks and meteor showers (and an occasional asteroid field), you will also have to compete with rival Space Runners who use different ships and are usually faster than you are. This means you’ll have to build additional engines instead of investing in the weaponry alone. When the enemy attacks get fierce enough, Space Run’s inspirations quickly become obvious. It’s all about clever turret placement and resource management. Since the gun installations have targeting cones you’ll have to worry about, you will also have to prepare accordingly. Upgrading the guns does allow you to redefine the turret’s direction, but this takes precious time – which is the most important resource of all. This is, at its core, a tower defence title.

In-between the missions you will be presented with a nicely designed interface that will allow you to choose from a number of jobs from numerous companies. Their representatives and Mann’s communication with them are just the right build-up for the actual cargo running, and despite the fact that the interaction with these characters is fairly limited, you will find them interesting and sometimes even funny, especially when Mann and Adaam’s commentary comes into question. After accepting a mission, you will have the opportunity to upgrade each ship „node“ you have at your disposal, as well as unlock additional nodes with the money you earn on each mission. It will probably take a couple of replays for an average gamer to unlock all the bells and whistles the game offers, but it shouldn’t be an issue since the game is fun.

Space Run does not offer a time-stop function. You’ll have to deal with everything in real time, which is the main source of the game’s dynamic, energizing gameplay. It doesn’t get stale nor boring as TDs usually do, and it will keep you chugging along the vast emptiness of deep space. It won’t be hard on your eyes, either. Despite the fact that the game is made by a rather small development team, it’s very pretty. The textures and models might not impress you, but the colors and overall „feel“ of the game is spot on. It’s cheesy sci-fi, after all. It has to be glowy, shiny and improbably adaptive (regarding the hexes of the ship). Sound design is also great, with soundtrack greatly enhancing the atmosphere. The combat sound effects feel properly powerful, with guns blasting and stuff exploding, providing distinctive feedback to the player.

In the end, it’s great to see that even an old and tired genre such as tower defence can be revitalized into a relatively new and refreshing experience. For its low price tag of about 10 bucks, rest assured you’ll get your money’s worth, especially if you’re into cheesy sci-fi. Then this game might very well be the holy grail for you. A definitive recommendation.