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Rebel Galaxy PC Review

I don’t think space is supposed to be this colorful, and if it is, I don’t think those colours are supposed to be that close together. I don’t really mind, as it looks cool. I don’t think I am supposed to fly that close to a sun either, but I will do it anyway. It’s a pretty great thing to do. That huge bright orange burning supernova that seems to exist solely to attack my retinas is worth a mention too. There are massive asteroids, little specks of spacedust, and lovingly lit trails coming from my ship’s thrusters. I think I might have Ozzy Osbourne tucked away in my cargo hold. I adore all these things. We may be told space is vast, empty and endless, but over the past few hours I’ve seen a lot of great stuff packed into one little corner of it.

These are my ongoing thoughts when playing Rebel Galaxy. It’s a game that tosses many of the longstanding space-sim rules out the airlock, and presents a long list of fun tasks solely to entertain. Remember the time the Battlestar Galactica went into FTL in atmosphere? No? Well, I thought it was pretty great, and every time I switch on my warp engines in Rebel Galaxy I feel like I’m close to single-handedly performing that maneuver.


Seconds after booting up the game for the first time, Rebel Galaxy dumps you into its vividly coloured space in control of your first ship – with awesome slide guitar music as your background accompaniment. The game introduces itself as it means to go on, as this is something that players will become very familiar with should they continue on their spacefaring adventure. How people react to this moment offers solid indication if they will enjoy the rest of what Rebel Galaxy offers. Personally,  I thought it was pretty awesome. Slide guitars in space are cool. If you are with me in my assertion that both of these things are great, then Rebel Galaxy should suit your tastes, and you don’t need many more words to tell you why. Another touchstone to gauge your interest would be how much you enjoyed the criminally short lived Firefly. If that’s high on the list of shows you’re incessantly angry got canceled, then Rebel Galaxy is waiting with open arms.

I will admit that I was initially drew to Rebel Galaxy due to its presentation and stylistic similarities to the above named Joss Whedon space western. If there was ever a game built from the ground up to appeal to my sensibilities, this would be it. But let’s talk gameplay for a while. At its core Rebel Galaxy is a long running quest to upgrade your newfound ship to something much bigger, better, (and badder?), by taking missions to earn money (and things!). Usually besting missions leads to monetary rewards, but every now and then a new part will be directly tossed your way to hammer onto the ship’s hull.

Upgrades are key in Rebel Galaxy, as you can improve your ship in a huge number of ways. Upgrading is split into three areas – weapons, defense, and components. In weapons you can equip cannons, launchers, ballistics, and various turrets. Defense lets you upgrade the hull, shields and deflector. Components lets you swap in and out engines, warp drives and jump drives, including the cargo hold and tractor beam. From the same screen you can buy brand new ships, the best of the bunch costing almost 4,000,000 credits – when I first saw this I had only 1,500 to my name! I certainly could not afford that, and to be honest could not afford to buy anything from the long list of items either. Work needed to be done to get paid.


If I can be reductive for a second, Rebel Galaxy is very much Assassin’s Creed Black Flag in space. The navel style combat is near an exact replica from that game – with the most impactful weapons fired from the broadside of your ship. The sea shanties have turned into a slide guitar, and the wooden boat has taken to the stars made from metal I’ve never heard off – probably boron.  Like AC, both player and ship have humble origins, but come adventure’s end they’ll be able to diligently tackle the hardest missions with ease – and receive a bounty of credits as a reward. You start out at the bottom, and have your own rags to riches Alan Sugar style story without having to resort to selling crap computers. It is not the most complicated gameplay loop ever, but I quickly found it to be an addictive one.

As I mentioned before, the option to attach different items to ships makes them  highly adaptable crafts. A ship equipped for long range battle can take potshots at far away enemies to wear them down before they even have a chance to get a shot back, or you can go the complete opposite direction and outfit for close-up encounters. There is no wrong way to play – at least not one that I have found. Every single upgrade seems like it can make a tactical difference to how encounters play out. Even simply upgrading your engine results in improved maneuverability at close range, letting you speedily skip out of danger in double quick time. The weapons are what ultimately makes the more drastic changes, and the amount of options available grow significantly when you can afford bigger ships. Not only does that mean more firepower to wreak havoc with, but due to differing weapon placements whole new strategies can come into play too.

If the naval combat gets too much to bear, carrying around some illegal space MacGuffins from one area to the next is an option. You just have to hope you don’t get busted by space cops. If you do, you can always choose to fight or run. If you would rather keep on the side of the law, you can get obsessed with mining space rocks and even playing around in trade markets. I did not do much of that personally, as the draw of slide guitars and space lasers was too strong.


You can certainly see the limited budget and scope of the game in some areas. The audio work on show is well done, but there is not a whole lot of it. When you go into battle you will hear various retorts from enemies as you pummel them. However, the range of phrases is not huge, and once you start encountering enemies from the same race you will quickly hear repeats. It is obvious why things have turned out this way, as Double Damage do not have the budget or staff to match up to behemoths like Bioware to record hour upon hour of endless dialogue exchanges. Outside battle there is much more dialogue to hear as you accept missions from NPCs, with all humans you meet having something to say. Sometimes the onscreen text says more than the spoken word does – another limitation, but not a damaging one.

The story is decent, but it will not win any awards. I was at least invested enough not to skip through exchanges. At the core of the story is aunt Juno, whose story advances as you work through the main missions. She was the kind soul that set in motion the events that led to you getting your first ship. We should be thankful for Aunt Juno – even if her offering has no deflector, no tractor beam, hull lining like paper, and popguns for weapons.

The other downer for me is that missions do get repetitive. You reach a point in the story where it becomes evident that you are working on quite similar tasks over and over again with only slight changes. This is aggravating, and I would have loved more variety. Alas this is a small team with a small budget, and the time and money was used in other areas. Rebel Galaxy pleases me enough in these ‘other areas’ to look past its lesser moments. After all, this is a game where you control massive spaceships blasting lasers from large turrets whilst blasting rock music from equally large speakers. That is something that I find inherently appealing, and I think there are others out there that feel the same way.


Never before has the written word been so inappropriate to describe why I enjoyed a game. A few short minutes of sitting, listening to the ship’s engines roar, and the soundtrack wail could replace 1000-or-so words of this review. With words failing me, let’s resort to comparisons.

I’ve never really put a finger on why exactly I have played Diablo 3 so much since it was released. I am constantly working to an end goal that seems always out of reach, and doing many of the same things over and over again to get there. The simple reason I keep at it is that it’s fun to play, and that’s why I keep going on and on. Rebel Galaxy is a very different game sitting in a different genre, but the reason why I enjoy it is pretty much the same. It’s just fun. The game’s mission structure may grow somewhat repetitive long before you approach the end of your journey, but that did not matter to me, as I always enjoyed what I was doing. The overall aesthetic of the game was more than enough to keep me going during the times gameplay may have faltered.

Compared to Elite Dangerous, Rebel Galaxy is on the other end of the spectrum. It presents space blasting fun right from the get go. If Elite Dangerous is indeed the sim, this is very much the boisterous brightly lit highly accessible arcade game. Although that is not to say it lacks depth, it has depth for days. If I was going to compare, Rebel Galaxy is this genre’s Burnout going up against the “Elite” behemoth that is Gran Turismo.

8 out of 10