Most of us know how it feels to wake up in the morning, desperately clawing for a cup of coffee, shambling your way down to work, taking that first deep sigh as you sit down and activate the gigantic magnet that pulls gigantic lost crates of cargo onto – wait, that’s not relatable at all, let me try this again.
Introducing Cargo Commander, a game where you can stand in a scruffy little space ship and press your F key repeatedly to shout “fuck you” in slightly varying tones of voice! Shout “fuck you!” at daytime! Shout it at night-time! Shout it at a wall! Shout it in bed! The more you press the button, the more game points you get. Seriously.
Okay, I might be exaggerating a little bit, but there is a part of the tutorial that legitimately requires you to push the F button to say fuck you. It’s called the ‘Stress Relief’ button, and I have to say, that sounds mighty sinister. I half expected a syringe of cocaine to appear out of my monitor and stab me in the eye, but what I got was something just as addictive and only marginally as life-ruining.
Essentially, what we have here is a platform version of the endless dungeon games like Terraria and Dungeons of Dredmor. There’s no real story or big goal, your objective is simply to collect as much stuff as you can until you die, at which point I assume your corpse is left floating in space until another Cargo Commander comes along and sucks it up. Gameplay is separated into work days, where you can go and activate your super powerful magnet to attach cargo crates to your ship. Then the fun begins – you hop from your ship to the crate and try to scoop up as much stuff as possible until an inexplicable recurring wormhole sucks the crates (But not your ship, for some reason) into the void. As you get further and further, crates become more elaborate, self-contained platform levels that can stack on top of each other – it becomes a race against the clock to grab as much stuff as you can before the crates are sucked away.
The simple smash n’ grab mechanic is a lot of fun but the amount of time you have to explore each crate is annoyingly vague. It’s obvious that you get more time depending on how many crates you’ve fished up, but some sort of counter would make the fast-paced exploration more intent and introduce a level of strategy beyond “Enter crate. Don’t die”. It becomes even more frustrating when you have to kill a boss creature to get a Sector Pass to go explore some more space, and the time limit still applies. At best, you’ll end up jumping out of the crate to wade through space back to your equally dingy home before you die. At least there’s a timer for how long you can spend breathing that vast quantity that space air before your head pops.
These gripes aside, what makes up the core game is a lot of fun, despite being a little rough around the edges. Your nameless Cargo Commander has a drill/gun arm ala FF7’s Barrett that you get to equip with a variety of different tools to make your job easier (Or just to survive until the next day). The most fundamental of these is the drill, which allows you to carve through cargo panels to make shortcuts or emergency exits , depending on whether you’re neck or just waist deep in shit at the time. You can also punch things to death with your giant robo-fist or collect ammo for the basic nail gun and proximity mines. There’s a few more besides to be discovered, but combat is more of an afterthought in this game than a full blown feature, and it takes up valuable time that you could be spending by looting corpses or scooping up crates. It’s not bad, but it could be a lot better, and that’s a phrase that applies to the rest of the game. It might have the capacity to become addictive but that’s not what makes a game good – and Cargo Commander has so much potential quirky charm just waiting to boil over. There’s a lot of potential waiting to be found out there in space – but it feels like the developers just jumped into the first crate they reeled in rather than pushing their luck for even greater dividends at the end of the day.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.
Buy the game on steam here http://store.steampowered.com/app/220460/?snr=1_7_suggest__13