PAX Impressions: Rebel Galaxy

TMC has just a few more piece left to run from the recently-concluded PAX South. Tomorrow: an interview with Elite: Dangerous producer Eddie Symons.

A phrase used by chief developer and Double Damage Games CEO Travis Baldree struck a chord with us, as it did others: "Han Solo Simulator". What they intend to create with Rebel Galaxy, their first space action game, is exactly that. Roam across a randomly generated universe, take missions, make money; encounter enemies, friends, and everything in between.
Players have access to multiple ship types, all upgradeable. Those ships (viewed from a flexible third-person camera) travel across randomly generated space full of life, with many opportunities to make your own way in the galaxy. Moral choices abound- some remniscent of the Mass Effect "good guy or bad guy" binary, but others deeper and more intriguing. I took a bounty-hunting mission from a surly-looking fellow at a space-cantina. My target, once tracked down, offered me a slightly higher sum to claim that I'd killed him and let him go free. I accepted his bribe, killed him anyways, and reaped the profits. More Boba Fett than Han Solo, maybe, but darkly enjoyable.
We played the game with an XBox controller, which was suitable enough, but it seems likely that mouse & keyboard will be an equally viable control configuration, if not more so. Combat tends to run towards turning battles, with the key to victory being the proper timing of well-aimed broadsides. It is immensely satisfying to watch an enemy curve in on attack and catch him with a blast of energy at the peak of a turn.
The game features a single-player campaign, with factions to encounter and befriend (or earn the enmity of). Story missions follow a fairly traditional progression, but there is a huge amount of randomly generated or lightly scripted content as players advance through the game.
The art style is reminiscent of Torchlight - unsurprising, given that it's built on the Torchlight 2 engine. The colors are bright and lush. This isn't the dingy and tired aesthetic of Star Wars or the sleek and practical vibe of Trek. It's much closer to Tachyon: The Fringe, and that is no bad thing. Big, colorful Minmatar-looking slabs of metal slamming laser broadsides into each other - what more could you ask for?
Rebel Galaxy is expected to launch in 2015.
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