Galaxy Pass Station Review – Space Trash

Space, the final frontier. Who knows what’s out there? Well, according to Galaxy Pass Station that would be at least 12 different species including robots, floating pyramids, and giant puffball people. Developed by Galactic Workshop, Galaxy Pass Station is a colony management game set in space. Much like Fallout Shelter with mechanics of Papers, Please, let’s see if the gameplay holds true in zero gravity.

In Galaxy Pass Station you work as the lead bureaucrat of the station, but as all branches of government come about, you’re unknowingly thrown into it. With a brief intro on how to get the gears of your small space ecosystem turning, visitors start arriving by the gallons. While starting you off easy, the first time you play will be a confusing mess. When new visitors arrive at the station their passports and other documents need to be checked to allow them to stay. This aspect of Galaxy Pass Station was what drew me to wanting to play it, as I thought it would be like Papers, Please, but with aliens. Unfortunately there’s no dramatic story that comes about when you let the visitor stay or make them leave. There are also many species of visitors, making remembering what to look for on each document tricky. I wish there was a quick reference to peak at so you didn’t have to change screens, but unfortunately there’s a lot of clicking and selecting that you have to do (which I’ll get to more about later). The document checking can get tedious, but in the beginning it’s the only way you earn resources. Later on you’re given a robot clerk to help check documents, but since they run out of batteries you get stuck working it again.

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Probably the most infuriating alert I’ve ever received

As much as I want the gameplay to flow in Galaxy Pass Station, the game stops itself repeatedly from allowing it to do so. The major reason behind this problem is making the player constantly flip between multiple screens. The main view is of the station, with the visitors bumbling about. There are then the back room reference documents, which also includes the ship track and planner, shop, and other selections that lead to even more screens. To have a solid flow, the player should be kept in the main ship view screen as much as possible, with the edges of the screen better utilized for shopping and reference materials. The user interface needs a complete revamp to help fix all its problems with distraction. The menu flow is haphazard at best, and after a while I developed a terrible hand cramp from having to move the mouse to select the exit button, which felt like it shipped itself to its own corner of the galaxy. Fallout Shelter did so well because it was released on mobile. While this allowed for its pacing to be more spread out and players checked in on it periodically, it also meant everything was a quick tap away, no need to drag the mouse over to select something.

Another big culprit of immersion breaking mechanics in Galaxy Pass Station is the dialog. All dialog to you is relayed through a digital telephone, which has a ringing state that you must accept/answer first before having a conversation. This whole dialog box appears smack-dab in the middle of the screen, blocking anything that you’ve been doing from view. Most of the dialog exchanges are needless; they’re just warnings that items have arrived, or the laboratory is available again for upgrades (which gets terribly annoying). If Galaxy Pass Station wanted to warn you of something to focus on, it should have a soft blinking red dot near what you should be aware of, like a phone app notification. Interrupting the player’s game to alert them about upgrades where the player is really trying to save up for better ones is frustrating. At multiple times the assistant robot called just to say they didn’t know why they called. My patience was sucked into the deep void of space when reading that. The dialog also counters the game itself. When checking visitors some of them offer bribes because there is something wrong on their documents and they want to stay in the station. Upon actually looking at their documents, however, they’re completely fine! Poor backend logic on the game’s part.

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Why is this the only option? The robo looks so happy

The art in Galaxy Pass Station makes up for some of the negative aspects. The cast of characters that visit the station are all whimsical. I’ve grown to like some species because of their silly appearances. Your character’s appearance can also be changed, but you never see it until you’re tucking yourself into bed for the end of the day. The sound effects for the characters fit pretty well, though when you’re having to manually check a large herd of documents it can start to get annoying. As said in my impressions piece, the music does not fit the game. Just because the game is set in space, doesn’t mean that the space station itself sounds like a random garble of atmospheric synths. I’d imagine the station to have something calming and light-hearted to go with the art, like some kind of soft jazz. The sparseness of the music makes the game feel empty and doesn’t allow the theme of the game to fully shine through.

In summary: Obtrusive gameplay onto the brink of annoying, fun art, and ill-fitting audio.

Jordan played Galaxy Pass Station on PC with a review key.

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