When humanity first reached outer space, companies started to understand just how valuable someone with the ability to quickly and reliably transport cargo was. In these dark times, hiring a good Runner would often be the difference between prosperity and failure. Space Run Galaxy puts you in control of one of the many ships used to resupply the universe, as you try to survive its dangers and make a name for yourself.
The game starts you with a simple ship and a handful of credits and will reward your efforts by allowing you to unlock new items and power-ups. It is immediately clear how Space Run Galaxy was designed to be both an entertaining experience and one that would be easily accessible to everyone, even though the game struggles to achieve both things. The lengthy and somewhat dispersive tutorial you’re presented with at the start of a new campaign explains how to customize your ship by adding or removing modules, one of the key mechanics of the game, as well as trying to narrate some of the events leading to your escapades as a space runner but fails when it comes to interesting you in knowing more about the planets that make up the in-game scenarios or the extravagant characters that inhabit them, ultimately hampering this title’s ability to tell a story. Bits and pieces will be revealed between the various missions through several cheesy but nevertheless funny dialogues, but these won’t give you anything aside from the occasional chuckle.
Little else is left for you to do once you’ve completed the first missions and got acquainted with the game. Running from one corner of the Space Run Galaxy universe to the opposite one while carrying shady and often not-strictly-legal cargo surely sounds like fun, but these runs quickly start feeling like chores more than anything remotely enthralling.
As you start each mission, your ship will be stripped of all the parts you bought on your previous run, leaving you with a series of empty slots you can build upon and a bunch of hexonuts, one of the in-game currencies. Based on the modules you crafted before your mission, you will then be able to install several upgrades and weapons. It is here that one of Space Run Galaxy‘s biggest and most annoying flaws shows itself. Considering that you are only able to purchase a limited amount of each specific item, placing your guns and power-ups in the most tactically advantageous way would be crucial to survival. Were you to change your mind or misclick, the game will allow you to delete the module but you won’t be able to use it again. This odd design choice prevents you from developing a dynamic strategy and from adapting to different enemies, often making you feel like you have no control over the situation.
Once all of your modules have been used and destroyed all you will be able to do is watch as your ship drifts toward the end of the level and hope for no enemies to spawn. Enemy presence also seems to be inconsistent through the sectors and playing the same run multiple times might randomly have you spend the following 10 minutes shooting up asteroids or being the only thing between the planet you departed from and an entire alien invasion fleet, practically rendering progression a useless thing. No matter what level you are or what kind of modules you are sporting, you will always risk being overrun by opponents that you simply are not well equipped enough to fend off.
Plenty of Room for Improvement
Other aspects of Space Run Galaxy‘s gameplay also leave plenty of room for improvement. Progressing through the game means unlocking larger ships and more upgrades, but there seems to be no way to group the latter into sub-groups, to control more than a module at once, or to easily access their special abilities. Once again, this results in a limited degree of control over the situation and makes you feel like you’re watching the game play itself in front of your eyes rather than being actively involved in the battles. Upgrading your ship is yet another task that will require extensive grinding and a good dose of luck. Each upgrade can be crafted by collecting the necessary materials and bringing them to a mechanic but these are only obtained as a random reward once you’ve completed a mission, meaning that you might have to replay missions multiple times in order to acquire all the materials you need. The multiplayer market is supposed to take care of the problem, but as any community-driven feature it ends up being highly unreliable.
Space Run Galaxy is a title that could have offered a lot more but that simply doesn’t seem to be up to the task. The punch this game was supposed to pack just isn’t there and to, stay on topic, it could be described as an empty container abandoned to rust in a storage area . The game was almost unplayable at release due to its tendency to crash and stutter and the stability issues that taint it are only slowly being resolved by the developer, with several features such as full Steam support still missing (I was not able to take screenshots through the overlay and the game’s link white square on my desktop is still to be replaced with a proper icon). Perhaps this one should have been allowed a bit more time before being pushed out in the world; perhaps, as Mabel said to Mack in their 1974 Broadway Musical, time heals everything but Space Run Galaxy is a title that, in its current state, cannot be recommended.