Space Wreck Review – A Time and a Space

Fly a rickety spaceship. Take a chance. Roll the dice. Chat up friendly NPCs. Survive a grim and gritty space life. These all take place in Pahris Entertainment SIA’s Space Wreck. Will you be able to find the fuel chip to fix your ship and soar the star-studded skies?

I’m going to be frank: this is not my kind of game. That being said, if you’re into role playing games with harsh consequences, this might be right up your alley. A lot of Space Wreck plays like old school RPGs, comparatively to the old Fallout games. Most actions and important dialog choices involve dice rolls that affect your stats to see if you’re able to complete the actions. Why this system is not for me in a video game sense is that it disregards all the hard work you put in. You could be collecting a lot of equipment and doing everything to the best of your ability, but if you can’t pass a dice roll then you are completely blocked from progressing. It amazed me when I saw this. I only had one chance to hack computer systems so if I failed I couldn’t complete my main task (I actually didn’t know my main task, the descriptions in Space Wreck are completely vague and unhelpful). If Space Wreck was trying to be a TRUE RPG then there would be a lot more give and take in the outcomes, or ways to try to recover from the outcome. Also, if it’s trying to be an RPG, why does it require you to sneak around and attack in real time? There’s not a warning in how enemy battles are going to go, and even though the game hints that you can avoid combat totally, it is almost impossible to not trigger it.

Screenshot 271
Or maybe some directions on what I should do next?

Space Wreck’s art gives me mixed feelings. On one hand, I enjoy the hacky/low-budget kind of tech the game uses for its user interface and dialog screen, but on the other hand the usability of everything is quite terrible. Let’s start with the UI. The typical in-game HUD is really small and difficult to see and select, especially the toggle switches on the right. It’s even more unfortunate that these controls are small because they need to be quickly accessed for some reactionary gameplay happening in the scene. In the beginning the blue pixellated art style of the computer screen is nostalgic and neat, but after trying to read a bunch of dialog the blue becomes really difficult to look at. There’s a reason why blue light filtered glasses exist. Blue is such an intensely harsh color to use. It would’ve been better to have used a black and white screen. The same old school effect would have still worked. Try to talk to people or continue through dialog trees can be difficult at some times because multiple kinds of informative text are being shown at once (like what is happening in the world, what an NPC says, and your dialog choices), and they’re all given the same kind of treatment, blending together.

The world art in Space Wreck also has its problems. While it simulates the old Fallout style very closely, that shouldn’t mean it should allow for gameplay to be inaccessible. A lot of the map, especially when entering a new location for the first time, is very hard to navigate through. New areas have a fog laid over it, which doesn’t go away until you enter that room. Contextually this makes sense, because many RPGs don’t give away what’s in a room until you enter them. The problem with the fog and other world elements is the user experience. A lot of the areas are the same browns, all blending into a boring scene. When hovering your mouse over a location to move your character to it, it’s difficult to actually tell where on the world you’re selecting due to the angle of the camera. Everything is hidden behind a wall, and because the camera is zoomed out, all the space station scenery gets in the way. While sat times it can be a visually pleasing experience, the lack of user feedback in the world makes it a challenge to know where to go.

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Oh look, rooms I can see in… And there’s nothing here…

Besides the few jarring sounds that come from attacking robots, Space Wreck’s audio has a fitting atmosphere. The swirling ambient backing track fills the scene with the heaviness and emptiness of space. Space Wreck’s mood is a balance of dreary and sarcastic. The audio focuses more on the dreary, which kind of leaves me wanting a small theme being passed around in the background now and again. With the visual droll of the art, it’d be nice to have some auditory feedback when selecting things, and having some dynamic music when performing actions or chatting with other characters. There is a sense of a mood change when combat happens, which helps. As mentioned earlier, however, the mix of the sounds and music is poor, and the robot screeches and opening vents can be teeth-grinding. It’s unfortunate that some of the only auditory feedback available is poorly added.

In summary: Unforgiving gameplay, poor art choices in some cases, but nice aesthetics in others, and a pleasurable sounding space atmosphere.

Jordan played Space Wreck on PC with a code provided by the developer.

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