Rebel Galaxy seems to have warped in out of nowhere and quickly made a strong impression. Open world sci-fi ship combat with a frontier style starts right from the main menu. Rebel Galaxy is a chance to explore the galaxy in a huge ship and float around blowing up other ships in your quest for loot.
Gameplay revolves around accepting quests from various characters or groups and flying around the galaxy completing them. More often than not the quests involve arriving at a destination and either blowing everything up, stealing things or bribing people to leave you alone. Characters and quests are largely forgettable even early in the game. Soon I was accepting quests without much thought and following markers without much knowledge of what I was doing or who I was doing it for.
Luckily combat and exploration are a joy. The naval combat style means that engagements don’t become the usual endless chase and confusion but rather a strategy of which weapons to activate and when to use shields. There’s nothing quite like meeting another ship side by side and letting the broadsides do their thing. Your broadsides will be your main interaction during combat. They can be fired with a simple press of a button or you can hold fire down and aim a concentrated blast to do considerably more damage. Secondary weapons can be fired by holding down or pressing another button depending on what you have equipped. And finally your turrets will acquire targets automatically unless you control them manually. It’s incredibly satisfying when engaging that you feel you have the force of a full ship at your control. Smaller enemies have the ability to roam in a 3D space as your turrets target them which gives combat a 3 dimensional feel despite the naval combat.
The rest of your time will be spent upgrading your ship with new or improved parts and eventually buying new ships. There are a considerable amount of upgrades for you to acquire for your shields, weapons, engines, hull strength and more. Progression is constant and the next upgrade is never far away but the final upgrade is going to take some time to earn.
The galaxy you are set free in to explore is impressively diverse which keeps things interesting. Everything you do in Rebel Galaxy involves going somewhere, having a fight and finding your way to a space station to upgrade systems. Thankfully I never got bored of any one of these tasks. Gameplay is the key to Rebel Galaxy and combat in particular is where it excels. Controlling ships during battles is never a problem, firing the right weapons when you want is easy and generally every control is perfectly designed. It is an absolute joy to manoeuvre and engage in Rebel Galaxy.
The cowboys and aliens atmosphere is well crafted from the style of the characters to the pounding rhythms of the dark country soundtrack that beats beneath. Even the main menu is a cinematic engagement between ships. There’s a distinctly Firefly feel to the whole thing and even the characters are often roguish crooks rather than evil villains. An exaggerated and colourful art style complement the themes extremely well. It serves the feel of Rebel Galaxy well and keeps the action feeling high paced and exciting.
It’s a shame to have largely meaningless characters and quests that often don’t need reading but exploration and combat offers huge fun. There is a trading system at work too but it’s a pain to use and not as profitable as making money in other ways. Control of the ship is amazing and the control scheme allows combat to flow. Rebel Galaxy is what it is and isn’t afraid of it. Good open-world combat and plenty of upgrades with a cool soundtrack. Rebel Galaxy is well worth a visit.