Preview – Hardspace: Shipbreaker is the space sim of your dystopian dream

Hardspace: Shipbreaker berthSource: Blackbird Interactive

Hardspace: Shipbreaker, which is currently in Early Access, isn't exactly subtle. When we talk about what kind of game it is, it is first a simulation of space work and secondly a huge critic of capitalism. In any case, it is more the latter than the former.

The game begins with the signing of a number of contracts, including one signed by Lynx Corp. gives the right to clone if you die on the job. Then you are reminded that you chose your new career as a shipbreaker, taking apart ships in the vacuum of space to save each piece for recycling, to pay off a massive billions of dollars in debt. After each shift, you will get an overview of all the money you have made and immediately before the next, your daily costs will be charged. The amount you owe is in the bottom right corner of the menu, and despite countless shifts, it never seems to drop.

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Yet you still press the "Start Shift" button. Even though the job is purposely fruitless and exploitative, there is much to look forward to at every shift. For example, you can float in space. Once you have mastered the work, you will find yourself settling into a groove. Burn the metal here, enter the airlock here, work on the walls before going to the reactor. Every shift is a puzzle; how do you get to the valuable parts of the ship without killing yourself? How do you process as much of the ship as possible for maximum profit? How far can you go on each shift without replenishing your oxygen or repairing your suit?

Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a juggling act. Not only do you juggle multiple decisions at once, but you also weigh your emotions. In a clearly capitalist dystopia, is it worth doing the work?

Space work sim

Hardspace: Shipbreaker

Pleasure in a capitalist dystopia

Hardspace: Shipbreaker is an industrial space sim that allows you to get into the grind of a working day without gravity. Break ships apart and earn a living from day to day.

Hardspace: the strength of Shipbreaker? Building the mood.

Hardspace Shipbreaker Intro

Hardspace Shipbreaker IntroSource: Windows Central

Hardspace: Shipbreaker is from Blackbird Interactive, the studio behind Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak and Minecraft Earth. Homeworld, if you haven't played it yet, is a real time strategy game. I remember playing Deserts of Kharak a few years ago, and while the gameplay didn't surprise me, I was struck by how well Blackbird was able to achieve a sense of space. While most of the Homeworld franchise puts the player in space, Deserts of Kharak is a prequel and takes place at the end of his life on Earth. The desert environments felt endless and the work became more and more difficult and fruitless. It was a solid combination of gameplay and setting to create a specific atmosphere that complimented the story.

Hardspace is also a game that sets the mood. The bay where you do most of your work is in the vacuum of space and you never see anyone else. There is a voice in your ear called Weaver, a former shipwrecker who guides you through the game, but for the most part you are isolated. The only other form of human contact you get is through audiologs and data found in the ships you take apart. Here you get hints about what happened to the last crews, and according to the themes of the game, it usually means that a person is being scammed by the company or can't meet their quota. Sometimes you pick up a piece of poetry or a description of the daily grind.

Unfortunately, only a few audio logs are currently being voiced by real people, while others are being read with an electronic voice. However, it is proof of writing in those logs that the robot voice doesn't take away too much from their intended effects.

Daily fees for Hardspace Shipbreaker

Daily fees for Hardspace ShipbreakerSource: Windows Central

As you play, you will be accompanied by a soft bluegrass soundtrack, which may seem out of place in the futuristic setting at first, but will quickly become an ordinary element in your life. It reminds the player of a specific part of the Earth – the America filled with poverty-stricken and oppressed people. It evokes images of miners or farmers, hoping that you make the connections between what you do in space and how familiar the whole scenario seems, even though it is sci-fi.

You can mute the game if you want. I've heard people describe Hardspace as a & # 39; podcast game & # 39; something you can play while listening to podcasts or watching TV. It is meditative in its monotony – in the same way as many labor, factory or industrial jobs.

However, unlike real industry, there is no real risk to the player. If you die, you will be cloned and can repeat the cycle again. You know exactly who you are in Hardspace: you are a humble worker with little power over your situation, except to do the job well. You owe the company nearly a billion credits, and while you can earn 500,000 credits in a shift, most of it goes to your daily costs and rent, so you don't make much. There is an end in sight, but it will take a very long time to get there.

What does the gameplay look like?

Each shift starts with choosing the vessel you want to work on, looking over the work order, then floating towards weightlessness. The controls, as you can guess, aren't easy. You can move in three dimensions and you often have to reorient to go in the right direction.

Starting a service is like looking at an outside puzzle.

You get a few tools to get the job done. Most importantly, your grapple, which allows you to grab objects and move them to the appropriate areas for reuse or demolition. This makes up most of the gameplay, but you also get a scanner to help you see what to break down, a cutter to help, you know, cut along with thrusters, a helmet, suit and habitation facility where you stock up can stock up and rest at the end of the shift.

The most important aspect of the game is the use of the grapple, scanner and cutter to not only disassemble the ships, but also find the most valuable pieces. You will receive a work order for each ship, which states which parts you must prioritize. For example, most ships have a reactor and an energy cell that you can reuse at an early stage. Then you can break down the rest of the barrel for metal, nanocarbon and other parts.

You should also do all this safely. You must first depressurize the ship before tearing it apart. Forgetting a step in this process can lead to an explosion that can kill you. You should also be careful about moving the reactor and the energy cell, as both can also cause massive damage if not handled properly. Usually this is a matter of creating a safe route to drag the parts, and therein lies one of the puzzles of every level. If you don't remove the right pieces or don't follow the steps, you could lose your life or, worse, profit.

Hardspace Shipbreaker explosion

Hardspace Shipbreaker explosionSource: Blackbird Interactive

To figure out how to take the ship apart is one of the challenges of the game. You can use the scanner to find all the junction points and melt them with your cutter, but you don't get to see everything. Sometimes you have to find a way behind a wall to find the right point or look for the ship for the power cell, which will not appear on your scanner unless you upgrade it. You also have to make sure to split everything into its smallest form; otherwise you risk destroying a valuable piece of the ship.

Everything is standard at first, but as you complete more work assignments, you gain access to higher ship types, which are more difficult ships. They have problems such as dead airlocks or more difficult to access engines and fuel lines. Since you only have a day or two to complete what's on the work order (you can continue to abort ships after the time limit has passed but you will only get more money, not the option to upgrade) use time wisely. Rushing through a ship and cutting haphazardly can bring you back.

Starting a shift is like looking at a puzzle from the outside and moving it in your hands to find the only opening that leads you forward. It is challenging but also rewarding once you have found the right way to remove a reactor. You get all the money but also the realization of a well thought-out strategy.

What is to come

Hardspace Shipbreaker Ship

Hardspace Shipbreaker ShipSource: Blackbird Interactive

Since the game is in Early Access, there are many bugs. This is standard and the developers work in the Steam forums to catalog all issues. While playing the game for review I had issues with Steam crashing and breaking but after a recent update those issues were fixed.

Hardspace has a single-player campaign, which is currently about 15 hours long. Developers expect to provide more than 40 hours of content when it's ready. In addition to the story, there is also Free Play, which allows you to simply play with a ship without worrying about your health, supplies or a time limit. There is also a Challenge mode not yet available, and a leaderboard, which just went online in the most recent update.

There is already much and much more to look forward to here. Blackbird developers have also announced that they plan to allow users to generate content, more ships and tools, events and more.

Bottom line

Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a space simulator that is sure to satisfy those looking for a meditative, monotonous (in the best way) experience. It balances the challenges offered so you learn new techniques and face unique obstacles along the way, but once you get the hang of things, it's never too difficult. In addition to the gameplay, there is a world full of characters you will never see and faceless companies controlling your every move, but that seems to be the norm in games these days.

The capitalist subtext may be too heavy-handed in some parts, and you're constantly reminded it's there, but that's part of the point. You can disassemble ships however you want, but it makes more sense if there is a purpose and a story to support it. Moreover, in a capitalist dystopia, you never escape the system. You have to keep working until the job is done, and it's never been done.

Space work sim

Hardspace: Shipbreaker

Pleasure in a capitalist dystopia

Hardspace: Shipbreaker is an industrial space sim that allows you to get into the grind of a working day without gravity. Break ships apart and earn a living from day to day.

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