Blackbird Interactive/Focus Home Interactive
Science fiction games that involve a lot of building elements are becoming ever more popular in this day and age. Empyrion: Galactic Survival was the first game that I tried which involved building lots of constructs from the ground up, although it also involved exploration and survival elements as well. Space Engineers is another game where you build a lot of stuff, but I found it a little too “build-y” for me, and lacking in the survival department.
New builder-on-the-block (or so you would initially think), Hardspace: Shipbreaker (now in Early Access), is a game that eschews both the survival and building aspects and distills everything down to a more practical thing—the business of shipbreaking.
Shipbreaking is nothing new, it’s been around for ages in the real world. It has always involved teams of men scouring over old derelict ships and extracting whatever valuable equipment they can from them before they commit their hulks to the sea one final time. It was extremely dangerous back in the day, but that has been mitigated somewhat by modern technology.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker represents the far-future version of shipbreaking. But there are no teammates to back you up in this intriguing science fiction title. Only you, your wits, and a few select tools. Oh yeah, and a spacesuit, of course—you kinda need that in space.
The main goal in Hardspace: Shipbreaker is to navigate to, and then through, derelict spaceships that are drifting around in orbit. From there, you have to extract as many valuables as you can from them. When the game first debuted a few weeks ago, you had set amounts of time (and oxygen) that you had to break ships down with—if you went over those limitations, you’d be fined money which is all-important in this game.
However, sometimes I like to wait a bit before reviewing new games to see what kind of kinks the developers work out; if any. I’m glad I did with this title because as of today (July 9, 2020), developers Blackbird Interactive have just dropped Update 0.1.3, which includes the new Open Shift mode.
As the dev notes state:
“It’s a full campaign with Shift Timer and the Oxygen Drain removed. Players can enjoy scavenging without any time pressure.”
Previously, many players (including me) felt that the time limits took away from the game’s excellent immersion factor. So, everyone’s very excited that they added this mode.
Back to the game—there are three separate types of salvage repositories in the main breaking area of a ship. Beneath you is a massive barge which is where you chuck things like different types of mundane furnishings, on up to massive engines and reactors. The second kind of repository is a furnace where you toss scraps of metal and such that you come across (so that they can be melted down). The third and final repository is where you stash the most valuable items you find so that they can be processed.
Your three tools for each work order consist of the cutter, tether gun, and the scanner. The cutter is used for…wait for it…CUTTING things. But really, you essentially use it to break things down. But you have to be careful—if you get a little too crazy with it and slice through objects too deeply, you’ll end up cutting into something that sets off something else, and that in turn sets off a bigger something else, and them uh-oh, you’re in trouble. The tether gun can be utilized to attach to certain pieces of equipment and pull them toward you. You can also use it to attach to multiple items in order to pull them together. And lastly, there’s the scanning tool, which allows you to search for things.
All of these tools can be upgraded, provided you’ve earned enough to do so. Your ever-important spacesuit can also be upgraded beyond its vanilla capacities. You can increase its amount of oxygen reserves, make it more durable (and therefore resistant to damage), and even make it more agile. I found myself upgrading my spacesuit before anything else because Hardspace: Shipbreaker is indeed a hard game, one in which you can die fast with one false move.
As it stands, Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a very unique game that flips the usual space-construction deal on its head—instead of building things up, you’re breaking them down. You really get the sense that you’re a hardworking, blue collar dude struggling to make ends meet (at least at first). This game is a must for anyone who wants to try something different for a change.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker has some pretty good looking graphics that make its science fiction gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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