Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is the prequel to the 2015 space sim Rebel Galaxy. Compared to the original title, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a more traditional space sim that gives a gritty, blue collar spin to the long running genre. The game follows former outlaw Juno Markev as she returns to space on a quest to avenge the death of her husband.
The game’s plot is a pretty standard affair. It’s simple, straight forward, and to the point. With such a large galaxy to explore, the main story isn’t necessarily central to the gameplay; however, it still serves as interesting content for those looking for a little more motivation or direction in a normally nebulous genre. The writing is well done. Information is usually offered up in a clear and understandable manner. Banter between characters is enjoyable and sprinkled with a good bit of wit. The only minor issue with the writing is the limited number of lines for minor NPCs. Since they are used often, they can be a little repetitive or slightly out of context.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw breaks away with the original title’s naval barrage system in favour of one a little more familiar to the space sim genre. The game handles more like an arcade fighter jet title than a hard-core Newtonian space sim. While Rebel Galaxy Outlaw has many of the bells and whistles of more hard-core titles, a lot of mechanics have simplified options to get new players into the genre. The approach to mechanics reminds me a lot of the 2003 space sim Freelancer. For the more hardcore, more challenging options are available at the start that disables the aim and flight assists.
Combat feels great. Ships are built around an energy system. Weapons, engines, and shields all expend energy when in use, so success hinges on flying skill and energy management. Very skilled players can also adjust how much energy is directed to weapons, engines, and shields. For example, players can divert energy from weapons to engines when they need to catch up to a fleeing enemy or move it to shields when making an escape from a dangerous fight.
The aim and flight assist systems hit the right spot in terms of difficulty. Holding the left trigger will initiate flight assist and automatically fly the ship towards the selected target. Aim assist will provide a slightly more generous hit box and an icon suggesting where players should aim to hit a moving target. There is enough assistance that players can just barely survive average difficulty encounters using the game’s assistance. Skilled players on the other hand will be able to tackle more difficult encounters because they are able to make tighter turns than the flight assist or execute more advanced flight maneuvers.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw has all the bells and whistles in terms of side activities. While the campaign is good fun, it is incredibly easy to get lost in all the side missions, mining, gambling, and trading the game has to offer. The side missions are randomly generated missions that can be taken on at space stations. The missions offer a little bit of everything Rebel Galaxy Outlaw has to offer, like scouting dangerous new locations and hauling cargo across the galaxy while fighting off pirates.
The economy is well done. Pilots looking to operate legitimately have plenty of options for salvaging, mining, or purchasing goods to trade. Those looking to live on the dark side will have a tougher time, but the rewards match the risks. Many stations are willing to pay a premium for illegal goods, as long as players can avoid the police. The game offers a good amount of information for the players to help them keep track of prices and good deals without having to rely on pen and paper or an external spreadsheet.
There is a decent amount of ships and equipment to buy to keep players busy for hours. Each ship tier is a significant upgrade over the previous tier. There is a balanced mix of heavy merchant ships with lots of turrets and agile fighters with fast engines and plenty of guns. Ships don’t lose any value, so players are able to switch between freighters and fighters with ease. For those interested in decorating, the game offers an external program that handles a lot like popular image editing tools.
The controls are well executed. It is definitely a title that should be played with a mouse and keyboard if there are no other options. A controller feels more fluid and natural. The only catch is Double Damage Games tried to cram a lot of different functions into a very limited number of keys. As a result, switching between locked targets feels clunky. Luckily, the game does come with HOTAS support and extensive binding options so players can find something that works for them.
The biggest issue with Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is the lack of tutorials. Considering the game is designed to get new players into the genre, the closest thing to a proper tutorial are random tips that will remind players of basic functions. A proper mission to teach players how to fly, fight, use the menus, and navigate around the galaxy would significantly ease the transition into the game.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw looks solid. The world is surprisingly bright considering the game’s gritty blue-collar style. The game has a slight cartoony look that suits Rebel Galaxy Outlaw well. The cut scenes are a real treat, offering Western-style animations that contrast nicely to the main game.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw’s audio experience is very good. The sound effects are enjoyable. Dog fights quickly turn into a cacophony of lasers, explosions, and engine noises. The voice acting is good and is generally a step up from the previous title. The only issue that lingers is the lack of variety in small NPC lines. A handful of lines and actors appear repeatedly, and one of them in particular sounds like the same actor who plays Richter. The soundtrack is impressively large and varied in the tradition of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series. While it lacks a DJ providing the full radio experience, there’s some talented lesser known artists providing tracks spanning from country tunes to jazzy pieces.
While not really an issue, the game’s default volume is incredibly loud, especially when playing the game in the cockpit. I found myself dropping the volume to around half in the settings to match other games and to be able to hear people in Discord.
Double Damage Games has created the perfect gateway drug into the world of space sims. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw combines accessible mechanics with extremely polished gameplay and then wraps it all up in with an excellent presentation. While a proper tutorial is definitely on the post-launch to do list, every gamer vaguely interested in dogfighting or space sims should give Rebel Galaxy Outlaw a try.
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