Lost in Space… Somewhat
I’m going to open this review with the confession that after playing Deep Sky Derelicts for many hours, I’m still not completely sure what it’s about (other than what’s in the title.) There is a lot of dialogue that moves fast, then no dialogue for a while, many characters, and characters that look very much alike.
The game is a science-fiction, role-playing adventure. From what I can tell, you are a trio of scavengers who have to explore neighboring space stations to collect scrap metal to sell, find things for other people on the space station, and complete some random quests. While on the stations, you’ll be attacked by some rather creative looking monsters! But you’re also looking for “data” for the Sub-Governor (who I guess is like a governor but slightly less important although I’m not a hundred percent sure of that) for reasons. Every action, from recharging your armour, scanning your surroundings to walking, takes a certain amount of your “energy” units. When you run out of energy you will be stranded. You can recharge your energy by spending the money that you earn, from selling scrap metal and quests, at the pawn shop at the space station.
I think that’s basically it. Part of me feels like there is this big, deep story that I’ve missed out on, that maybe we are the last few of the human race, lost in space and having to struggle to maintain our existence. Or maybe everyone is just a massive rebel. All I can say is that Deep Sky Derelicts is very fun and very addictive!
The Lucky Three
When you start your campaign in Deep Sky Derelicts, you must choose your three characters, their trait, and what their special skill must be. There are many different faces to choose from and many different traits including “charismatic”, “craft”, “aggressive” and “skittish.” The soldier categories include “Medics” who can heal other crew members, “Leaders” who are in charge of the mission and “Bruisers” which are big beefcakes who are great at combat.
I’ll admit that at first, this angered me a little bit. I hate it when, straight away, games tell you to pick a trait before you know which trait is supposed to be useful! Okay, so it’s pretty obvious which trait goes better with which character type, but before I’ve played the game, I don’t know how often I’m going to need each type. If the game is combat heavy, then surely, I’d be better off with three aggressive bruisers than any skittish mechanics!
I know, I know: “replay value” and all that, I just want my first playthrough to be as great of an experience as all my others. My others should be recreating great memories, or experimenting with other paths, not just a second go!
What really bothered me was that you can’t just choose the faces your crew get but have to randomise them. You can even switch each member individually, so if I like one but not the other two I have to get rid of the one I like. Your team will also get a randomly generated name. Mine was called “The Slick Fellas” (which offended me a little since two out of three of my crew were women- #SpaceLadies!)
For my campaign, I took a crafty medic, a charismatic leader and an aggressive bruiser, which seemed to be a fine combination.
Space is Big… Ish
After talking to the Sub-Governor, you can go to the tavern and get some quests. You might as well get all the quests available, since there isn’t a limit to how many you can get, and you can work on several on the same mission. While on the “Deep Sky Station,” you can also go to the pawn shop to sell your finds, buy things are recharge your ship, go to “deep space medical” to heal after combat, the “Research Workshop” where you can upgrade your equipment or check in with the governor after your adventures.
I’ll admit that shortly after starting my quests, I began to wish there was some sort of tutorial. I spend my first hour of gameplay wondering what I was supposed to do. I went to the necessary station, then just started wandering around. Then realised that all I was supposed to do was wander around until I found what I was looking for! Later, you can get an upgrade that lets you know what’s on nearby squares, but at this point, I was very frustrated. I had to wander up and down the squares, going back and forth from the station to recharge before I found the blasted guy to tell him I’d killed the person he was looking for!
The economy in this world is pretty wrecked too. Upgrades cost pretty much the same as healing someone who has been butchered in a fight, so you have very little left over after your team has recovered. And any money you get from your scavenges will go on your goddamn energy!
The combat in the game is pretty good! It’s turn-based, which I always prefer to fighting games. True, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that you’d wait your turn to attack someone, but it offers a lot more tactics than just hitting buttons as fast as you can. (Tell me I don’t get fighting games, but I’ve never found one I could beat by button-mashing.)
During each battle, your crew is dealt cards that can be used to attack, heal or disadvantage the monsters. The fights aren’t that complicated. Basically, just pick the card with the biggest number on it and throw it at the enemy. The enemy will lose that amount of hit points. If you’re stuck, you can spend energy to rebuild your team’s shields and give them new cards, although you can only do this once per battle. Battles can also go south pretty quickly since you don’t know how powerful your enemies will be until you enter the battle, but I suppose that’s accurate given the mystery of space.
My one piece of advice would be to let your team die rather than retreat. If you retreat you basically have to stand there and get creamed before limping back to the base. When you die, you’ll just reset back at your last save.
In case helping the Sub-Governor doesn’t appeal to you, then just play Arena mode, which is basically just the combat. It’s difficult as heck, but it’s pretty addictive and I probably had more fun with this than bothering with the campaign.
Space is Dark – But Pretty
One thing I’ll say about 1C Company is that they really seem to know what the people want. (Or at least what I want.) Deep Sky Derelicts’ best feature is it’s dark, comic book art style, that looks creepy and is very entertaining! Even though most of the characters look the same, the faces all have this grizzled, cynical look about them. The comic book style plays really well into the combat and keeps the game interesting (with the old-fashioned fighting clouds and written noises coming into it.) All the monsters you fight are really creative too; from mutated eyeballs to some kind of rouge cleaning robots!
There is also this very fitting, sci-fi soundtrack which is very cheesy yet still pulls you into the combat.
I’ve played a lot of 1C games lately and this is probably my second favourite. They just really seem to know their audience!
I would recommend Deep Sky Derelicts. You won’t get countless hours of fun from it, but you’ll get some at least, with a couple of laughs and a sense of achievement. (Especially since there is an achievement for everything, including your whole team dying.) If nothing else, it’s got to be safer than going to space and becoming a mercenary for reals, along with being a whole lot cheaper!
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC; Publisher: 1C Company ; Developer: Snowhound Games ; Players: 1 ; Released: September 26, 2018 ; MSRP: $19.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.