If you ever wanted to try out running your own spaceship, crew, and explore the galaxy, then Space Crew might be for you.
That’s what you would get by looking at the trailers. Space Crew is a game about fighting back against the alien race - known as the Phasmids - and quell their invasion in your space. At the start, the game gives you a starter ship, six crewmen, and a smattering of customisation.
The game certainly emphasises the ability to change almost all aspects of your ship and crew, and rightfully so. While Space Crew gives you a preset of characters, you can change their colour, hair, uniform, and more when trying to change their gear. These presets can be changed at any time if you feel like changing the look of your crew. Best of all, you can change their names too.
Every crew member has a role, be it a Gunner, Engineer, Comms Officer, Security Officer or Captain, but you can never train a crew member to be a part of all stations. Every crew member can have a secondary role (known as a skill), allowing them to be an Engineer and a Gunner for instance, but if you wanted to have a crew member change roles, they would have to drop the secondary skill before they can learn a new one.
Essentially a crew member can take control of any part of the ship during a single mission. However, these roles come with various abilities that you can unlock once you have reached a certain level. Gunners can “focus fire” or increase the output damage of their gun. Security Officers can boost your shields or make you go invisible in dire needs. Engineers, in their turn, can repair any damage quickly. All roles have a specific function and assigning a useful second role is paramount.
Your ship works in the same way as your crew members: you upgrade various systems on the ship such as shields, armour, weapons and more. If you have that artistic flair, then you have the option to create a custom logo and use that instead of the presets.
Taking your lump of metal and six courageous crew members out into the blackness of space is daunting at first, with your first mission getting you acquainted with the Phasmids. Dealing with the initial batch of Phasmids is easy in the first two or three missions, but you will come up against a brick wall in later missions. You won’t get far until you grind through the same missions until your crew and ship are up to spec to continue.
While completing a mission can be fun (albeit time-consuming), the variety of missions comes down to either clearing an area of Phasmids, rescuing someone, deploying a probe, delivering cargo or escorting someone. Some of these missions don’t appear until you’ve completed the first portion of the game, which in itself does not take long to accomplish.
After every mission, you receive credits and research points. You can use these credits to upgrade your crew members or your ship, but you can’t acquire new ships. Instead, you are lumbered with the same ship from bygones past. To make things blander, your research points are not actual research points, but instead an invisible experience bar with “unlocks” behind them.
During missions, you get the opportunity to scan probes, which often contain new gear for your crew and ship. Unfortunately, these probes won’t appear until you’ve reached a milestone in research points. What would’ve been nice is if the player was allowed to choose a research path towards different equipment and ship types, instead, it’s a predefined set of criterion chosen by the developers.
If your ship gets destroyed and all of your crew members are lost, you will be given a new ship and crew. Without any personalities and unique characteristics for each crew member, however, you don’t feel any emotional attachment to them. For a rogue-lite title, Space Crew has taken the “lite” aspect of the genre a little too literal.
Despite the lack of mission types, Space Crew is a fun little game during missions. There are many stations on your ship that your crew can man. However, you’re given a limited number of crew members to man them all. Compromising one station to bolster another station is a decision that can affect the outcome of a battle.
In turn, many of the crew members will need to juggle their roles within the ship to help repair the damage, increase shield output and boost power. Even putting everyone on guns to take out as many Phasmids as possible before they board your ship could be a mandatory action. Damage to your ship will affect your crew members significantly, as it can cause your engines and reactor to start leaking radiation. Fires can also break out, blocking paths and decreasing your crew’s health, but they can be put out using fire extinguishers.
Multiplayer - especially coop - would have been a great addition to the game as that would have made this a blast. Everyone would be rushing around the ship like crazy zapping aliens, putting out fires, repairing things and boosting your ship’s speed. As a single-player game, it becomes monotonous very quickly, so short gaming sessions are recommended.