Hardspace: Shipbreaker from Blackbird Interactive is a game that’s set in the far future. Planet Earth has turned into a wasteland and massive corporations rule the solar system. Players will take on the role of a person that’s just signed their life away to the Lynx Corporation and becomes a “cutter”. Sounds like a fun time right?
To elaborate, the Lynx Corporation has given you an opportunity of a lifetime to escape planet Earth and you, the player character, take it. With crippling debt to your name, you will work for Lynx and break ships apart for salvageable material. Each piece of salvage you get from a ship that you’re tearing apart will earn you dollars. These dollars can then be used to pay off your insane amount of debt to Lynx. The caveat here being the fact that working for Lynx isn’t exactly all fun and games. The corporate shadiness of Lynx knows no bounds, and they quite literally charge you rent on a spacesuit and the equipment to do your job of breaking apart ships for them. How legal this is, is anyone’s guess but this is the premise of Hardspace: Shipbreaker. Get to work cutter! There are bills to pay.
Players will go through a tutorial series of missions which introduce you to the game mechanics. At first, you’ll learn how to float around in space and move in zero gravity. Then you’ll learn how to start dismantling ships and soon enough you’ll learn about the perils of explosive decompression, oxygen shortages, and nuclear reactors going haywire when yanked from the core of a ship. No pressure huh? It’s all in a day’s work for a cutter like you.
With the tutorials out the way, the core gameplay elements in Hardspace: Shipbreaker shine through. Breaking apart a ship using your laser cutter is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game. Not only does it look great, it feels great. There’s a massive sense of enjoyment to be had in cutting through spaceships and pulling them apart piece by piece.
Your ship scanner is always available via your spacesuit and it is absolutely indispensable to your job of salvaging a ship. Players will have to first scan a ship to see where they can cut through and what exactly they can salvage. Your ship scanner will highlight the different types of materials on a ship as well as indicate weak points for cutting and much more Outer panels of aluminium or titanium can be cut and pulled away using a grapple while heavier pieces of salvage will need to be yanked out using gravity tethers.
Being an early access title, Hardspace: Shipbreaker currently has a limited amount of ship designs in it with some variation in the designs being procedurally generated. Nevertheless, the ships are packed with enough content and lots of bonus materials such as audio logs and other items are present which keep things interesting. It’s not hard to imagine players easily spending hours and hours playing the game. There is a lot of fun to be had slicing open ships and yanking out salvage to deposit into the furnaces or salvage bays. Strategizing how to properly dismantle a large ship without somehow killing yourself in the process is rather fun.
The biggest issue Hardspace: Shipbreaker has though lies with the fact that the game imposes limits on you. After the tutorial missions, players will have to contend with a rather harsh 15-minute time limit per salvage mission. This is due to the limited amount of oxygen and fuel your spacesuit can carry. It severely kneecaps the game and makes it seem like you are rushing a chore instead of letting you freely enjoy yourself salvaging a ship.
Another issue with the game is the fact that the Lynx corporation’s greed truly knows no bounds. Everything from the spacesuit you’re wearing to the tools you’re using belongs to Lynx and each salvage mission needs to be profitable otherwise you’ll just rack up more debt from heading out into space. The ever-looming threat of owing more and more money to Lynx adds a sort of demoralising pressure to the game that is definitely unwanted and many gamers will find it off-putting because it may hit a little too close to home. A game needs to be fun and should not remind you of work. We’re hoping that Blackbird Interactive introduces a more freeing mode for gamers who want to just cut a ship up without the unnecessary added pressure from the crippling debt, oxygen limit and fuel limit.
As it stands right now though, Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a very fun game based on a great concept and has solid gameplay mechanics backing it albeit limited by its own narrative. It’s still in early access though and as development goes on we’re hoping to see even more ship variations and some changes made to the game’s restrictive aspects regarding fuel and oxygen. Make it happen Blackbird Interactive and you may just have a stellar success here.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker is in early access for PC on Steam and can be purchased here.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker is developed by Blackbird Interactive and published by Focus Home Interactive.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker will be available on the following platforms PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows.
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