Hardspace: Shipbreaker Test – Gamereactor – Hardspace: Shipbreaker

I’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a spaceman. If so, Blackbird Interactive’s latest title might just be the game for you. In this action game, you are tired of living on an earth that is barely livable after all the environmental degradation. Your debt is high and you want to build a new and better future for yourself. Your hope becomes the stars, and the ad you’re reading seems to have the solution. You are applying to work for a company called Lynx Corps, which dismantles spacecraft in large depots orbiting our beautiful planet. As expected, you get the job and have to read a lot of contracts. I had a good laugh at the nonsensical toilet instructions and several of the clauses in the contract you sign.

I will say up front that Blackbird Interactive has done a great job introducing players. You are not completely left out of figuring it all out yourself. There is a narrative that supports the gameplay with context and world building. However, all is not as it should be. You quickly realize that the company is a dystopian nightmare to which you give up all your rights. They buy your land debt and increase it when they finish equipping and training you. So to make money in the profession, you have to work out all the debts, which is an almost impossible task. This new future will not be quite as you imagined, but hope is the last thing that leaves man, they say, and it is evident here. Your supervisor is a friendly person with a southern accent, and you quickly get to know other demolition workers at the surrounding stations. The storytelling is charming and entertaining without getting in the way of the gameplay.

The room is your new home.

When you first start out, you have limited equipment and must take advantage of every opportunity you get. You have limited shifts, which means you have to prioritize how long you work on starships. Each shift lasts approximately 15 minutes. Don’t think for a second that you have free oxygen, rocket fuel or repairs. You will be able to buy these refills at a kiosk, increasing your debt. The costs are low, but it is always good to try to minimize the expenses and increase the income of the hull. Spaceships are different from each other with different ways of distinguishing them. With a tool called the “Handheld Utility Grapple”, you can use energy beams to grab and send junk into the right container. It is important that you send the scrap to the correct container, otherwise any losses will be added to your debt. With your laser cutter you can cut out the spaceship. It’s a puzzle, and the charm is how quickly and efficiently you can break the object. As you level up and are able to upgrade your equipment in your office, new challenges will also come. Spaceships not only scale, but also come with dangers. It is this evolution and growing challenge that creates a cycle of constant improvement and acceleration.

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The gear you use works best if you also use the visor. The visor lets you see how the ship is held together, what needs to be sorted where, and many other valuable things.

It took me a while to manage the pressure differences between the outside and the inside properly. If it goes wrong, you can create an explosive reaction when things are sucked out of the ship. It is important to know what you are doing because you have health and you can die in the game. It’s not just the pressure that matters, the more you level up the more dangers start to appear in each gear. The company you work for thought it was cheaper to leave such things to the workers. If you’re not careful where you cut, you can trigger domino effects where the air pressure causes containers to explode, rendering your precious shell completely useless. It is important to constantly think about where you are starting and have a plan to make as much money as possible. Fortunately, you have a special visor to help you, and good training to prepare you for new dangers in the campaign.

More money also means bonuses, points to upgrade your equipment, so there are plenty of reasons to move on. If you get blasted, melted, stabbed, or killed, that’s okay. Society has already killed you once to collect all the genetic material they need as bodily fluids to create clones of you. Each clone body costs you a lot of money. If you die a lot, the debt increases, which is of course sad. But it is not uncommon to explode, burn, run out of oxygen or be electrocuted to death. Accidents happen in this universe and every death is a lesson.

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There are two types of purchases you make in the game (not microtransactions). The first is that you use a special currency that you get by reaching certain money levels. You can use it to upgrade your equipment. The other type of purchase is at the kiosk where you can repair your suit, get more oxygen and refill ammo.

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While I think it can be repetitive at times and lacks a multiplayer mode, there is a lot to gain here. I think the game arrived just in time for me. It is a light game which is quite relaxing to play. Learning how to beat other players’ best records takes time and shows depth. As you earn more tools, the opportunities to think outside the box and really smash starships in your own way increase. It helps that it looks nice with a custom design, which I think makes all the difference. The lighting is also fantastic. The sounds and voice actors do a good job of narrating and explaining. You don’t meet the characters in person, but they talk to the player via e-mail and radio. I also love the music, which reminds me of the great Bastion game, the American South and the Wild West. Darren Korb, the man behind Bastion’s music, has described his music as “frontier acoustic trip-hop”. Hardspace: Shipbreaker removes the trip-hop aspect and offers a lot of great songs. Using dark Country-Blues/Folk in space games is nothing new, but it fits the theme perfectly.

What makes Shipbreaker shine is the combination of gameplay and music. It is difficult to describe the feeling of seeing a large spaceship literally floating into pieces that are easy to sort. It’s dripping with atmosphere despite the fact that you’re floating in space above Earth. It’s a world the developers manage to breathe life into.

While I like the music, game mechanics, and setting, there are a few minor issues worth pointing out. I think that despite the increased complexity of the starships, the game could have used a little more variety in setup and missions. Of course, I understand that the game is meant to simulate very repetitive slave labor. It’s also understandable that the developers can’t do much, and it’s best to have a polished base concept to develop later. There are some errors and lack of precision in the cut in some situations. You could accidentally trigger an explosion because the tool doesn’t quite cut where it should. Along with the campaign with its varying difficulty levels, there is also an open game mode and a competitive mode, both of which add some longevity.

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When you choose your ship (mission), you will always receive information about it. By finding out some things, you can better plan ahead or where to start.

If you can look past the lack of variety and some minor technical issues, it’s one of the best experiences of the year. If you don’t get bored at first, you can get 20-30 hours out of it. I was totally engrossed in my hours with the game and it was hard to put it down. But if you don’t get hooked on the gameplay, you won’t like this. I like that we have more and more experiences that try to allow us to see other perspectives in these worlds. The gameplay concept of Shipbreaker would have been a great thing to build an experience around the early moments of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Allowing us to work for this universe’s “Scrapper Guild” and demolish the large warships after the Clone Wars. If you think Shipbreaker has something for you, you can’t go wrong playing it.

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Your office can be personalized with posters. The main objective of the gameplay is to read emails and upgrade your equipment.

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