Rebel Galaxy Review: Wild West… IN SPACE
What’s this? A space game where I can shoot stuff up while redneck rock is blaring in the background? Sign me up!
Rebel Galaxy is an open-world real-time-action space game with trading, combat, factions, and a prominent Wild-West-in-Space atmosphere. Think if someone had Elite: Dangerous and Firefly fused together and you’d get Rebel Galaxy.
Only this game is less about space simulation or exploring the grim aspects of society in a galaxy with as many rules and law enforcement as the Wild-West, and more like mindless arcady fun to blow off steam while you choose whether to go bounty hunting for outlaws, become an outlaw yourself, mine asteroids, do honest trading, or look for your missing family member in the main quest.
First things first: the game has a 2D navigation system. It threw me off guard too, I mean a 2D navigation system in a modern 3D Space Combat game? Why?! After some time I realized that the reason might be the combat, which actually plays more like Naval combat at sea rather than a dogfight in space. There are two types of spaceships: Capital ships and Gunships. Capital ships are the big fellers you’ll mostly concentrate on during battles and the only playable ship type. They’re like the main course of a meal, and they have the same horizontal-only movement as the player.
Gunships are the pesky little one-person spacecrafts that fly around, backing the enemy Capital ships. They’re weak individually, but they’re strong in swarms. (Gunships almost always come in swarms). They might as well be flies attracted to the main meal because unlike you, or the other Capital ships in the game, Gunships fly around freely horizontally and vertically.
This brings us to the combat, Naval Combat is the best way to describe Capital ship VS. Capital ship fights, because you’re literally firing broadsides laser cannons as you try to maneuver to aim your broadsides at the enemy while they do the same. Then it’s all unleashed laser cannon hell upon both sides’ hulls. It’ll be hard to aim broadsides while fighting Gunships because they can be above or under you during combat. For that reason, even your starting ship is equipped with at least one turret that is not limited like the broadsides.
These turrets can aim anywhere (Including your own hull, at the right angle. So careful when firing them manually. The AI knows to not target your own ship). All turrets can be set to fire automatically, targeting and firing whenever an enemy is nearby.
You can either set the AI as you please or fire your turrets manually. But I found that handling my broadsides manually (since they don’t have AI) while my turrets aim and fire at Gunships far better than I could hope for manually, is far more effective. In Rebel Galaxy, you can earn credits doing various activities because everyone needs money for food and better, bigger ships, right?
There’s actually a whole lot you can do to earn money. Trading honestly (or smuggling contraband), bounty hunting, random side questing, asteroid mining, good ol’ space piracy, hacking abandoned satellites to gain the whereabouts of secret loot, finding new areas like asteroid belts or nebulae and getting an “exploring bounty”, answering distress beacons and hope the trader you helped out of a pickle rewards you (they usually do), or just fighting ships to no end and hope they drop good loot- you get the point. You choose what kind of spacefarer you want to be; A sneaky miner who’s pirating on the side? A notorious pirate with a heart of gold, responding to each distress call? Or a bloodthirsty bounty hunter who’s in it for sport? Your call.
But your choices may have consequences because if you choose the pirate route, you will piss factions off and they will eventually send fighters to take you down. It might take a while though because if you’re in good relations with that faction, it will take way more than one incident to make them dislike you, but it’s still risky if you’re planning on making friends in this harsh galaxy. Surprisingly, the game also has factions. Though they’re not too in depth; they do have different ships, space stations, and economies. But they mostly behave the same. It’s a real shame because I’d have loved to interact with all of these different races or ideologies each faction was supposed to represent, but it just boils down from “They think you’re a jerk” to “They think you’re a swell dude.”.
You can interact with individual people from each faction by getting close enough with your ship to theirs to “hail” them on the radio. Even then you don’t get that many options, only something in the lines of: “Wanna trade?”, “Need help?” (to which every time I ask, they refuse), and “this is a robbery, give me all your soy paste or suck void!” I just feel like it’s a missed opportunity to make the game much more interesting. Heck, they already have aliens with their own genuine-sounding fictional language and dynamic trading economies with random events which cause dramatic price changes. So why stop there?
Graphics and Sound
Rebel Galaxy has really good graphics and shaders, as well as a cool mixture of two visual elements in its artstyle. On one hand; you got a colorful and stunning space in the foreground and background, filled with colorful nebulae, stars, and effects like explosions, thruster plasma trails, and strong lense-flairs (that are a little intrusive to your eyes but beautiful nonetheless). On the other hand: most of the spaceships and space stations look like they’ve been built from salvaged rusty scrap metal or long-forgotten derelicts as if to show that despite the beauty and colorfulness of the galaxy, life is still harsh for those who live in it, and they make due with what they have. Or they just murder and loot people. Kind of like a Frontier lifestyle, don’t you think?
Speaking of the Wild-West side of things, the soundtrack takes a significant role in the game. It doesn’t have too many tracks, but it does set the mood of the game with different tracks for every situation: Whether it’s loud country rock during battle, or some smooth bluesy guitar riffs while you’re calmly flying through space, or when you’re docked and it feels like the space station you’re in is playing some dark country song over the speakers. The music sets the right mood, but it might get repetitive after a while due to a lack of variety. There’s only so many times I can tolerate the same Blues Saraceno song playing over and over again in one session. Fortunately, the game does allow you to add your own custom music fairly easily through the launcher!
This means that you can add some more variety to the tracks with the same style, or change it completely! No one’s going to judge you if you’d prefer to destroy honest traders to the tunes of some Vivaldi pieces. Go nuts. (You weirdo…) Or if you’re a big fan of Cowboy Beebop like me, add a jazz and blues playlist to the mixture to get the same vibe from the show. Rebel Galaxy includes some solid sound design, like the weapon systems which sound unique and powerful for each weapon type, or when you go into warp-drive and you get this satisfying “swoosh!”, or when your hull gets damaged and you know it did just from the metallic crunch.
But there’s also some really shoddy Voice-Over work. For instance: the announcer AI in your ship reports every single thing you do right after you do it, or when it reports damage which is semi-useful. But it’s mostly there to either remind you things that you didn’t have time to forget, or just state the obvious. The announcer also drowns out the music every time it speaks, so you can bet that whatever music you have playing, it will get cut every 3 seconds in combat while the calm robotic voice of the announcer declares that your shields are down and your inevitable doom is near. Thanks, Sherlock… I wish I could turn the announcer off, but I can’t.
Not to mention the voice lines that you hear when you’re starting a fight with someone, or when they’re just about to explode. Again, not much variety, and it gets repetitive since each faction has like three lines per situation and you’ll hear all of them many times after just two hours of gameplay. Though not all voice work is bad: most of the traders are ok, and the non-human races (like robotic characters and aliens) add just an extra touch of immersion to the game.
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 7/10
Rebel Galaxy is a really fun game. It has charm, it has a sense of humor, it has fantastic visuals that I couldn't nitpick if I tried, an interesting story too if you wish to follow it (but nothing stops you from raiding innocents instead), and it has a certain style that makes it stand out in a market filled with dull (yet realistic) Space Simulator Games. Sure, it has problems like the occasional bug that jumbles up the icons on the minimap and HUD sometimes, or janky, imperfect animations. But it doesn't actually affect gameplay all that much.
The controls are great, even with my initial discomfort with the whole 2D navigation thing, it actually feels like you're flying a colossal behemoth of a spaceship, and the game has so much more depth and content than I had anticipated. The randomly generated open world doesn't even stop at one galaxy map, there are many sectors each with different sets of stations, locations, and events. I recommend this to anyone interested in throwing $20 into a game that's just fun to dick around with for a while, even if you want to mute the music and catch-up on a podcast. You should definitely grab Rebal Galaxy on sale. Unless you don't like spaceships. Or space. Or fun.
Benny Gurov6 Posts
Pencil/Pen/Painter, Pixel Artist, Amateur Writer, Banjo player, and Game Reviewer (of course).