Coverage Club is our weekly series of smaller impressions in the style of full reviews. Games can range from brand new titles hitting Early Access to older hidden gems that never got their due. No matter your preference, you’re sure to find something off the beaten path here.
Covered by Robert N. Adams
Galactic Crew is a game with echoes of FTL. This inaugural title by Benjamin Rommel Games is currently in Early Access and I was intrigued by the idea of managing a starship crew and customizing my ship to a degree. It promised customizable ships, a randomly-generated galaxy, and a healthy challenge. I was keen on seeing if it delivered.
I started things off with running through the tutorial for Galactic Crew which gives a basic overview of the game’s systems. Players travel through a procedurally-generated galaxy map. Jumping to a new star system will consume one crystal per engine on the ship. Each crew member will also require a portion of food for every jump. The starting ship comes with a botany room that removes the food requirement entirely, and the engine can be easily upgraded to remove the fuel cost.
At the outset, players can choose from three distinct career paths. Traders gain threat by earning money, pirates gain threat by attacking civilian ships, and explorers don’t generate threat at all. Once your threat starts to get high enough, you’ll be pursued by a powerful nemesis ship that’s out to get you. That’s not to say it will be your only challenge – plenty of pirates are around in the galaxy to try and ruin your day.
My first three attempts at playing ended in one disaster or another. The fourth go is where things really took off for me. I decided to go for a pirate ship and focus on combat. Thanks to that, I was able to destroy a few merchant, mining, and trading vessels along with a handful of pirates who saw fit to attack me. I bypassed a lot of quests, but I soon found the prospects of exploring smuggler bases and taking out pirate hideouts as a venture equal (if not better) in profit as compared to blowing up ships one at a time.
Part of the appeal of Galactic Crew is that you can replay it with new additions and challenges. Completing achievements unlocks new things for future games. For example, jump gates replace a few planets with the titular transport devices. They allow you to head off to another galaxy entirely, vastly expanding the potential play area. Blowing up enough ships will allow you to start with a more powerful one at the beginning of a game if you so choose.
Combat in Galactic Crew felt very much like FTL, although it’s an entirely different graphical style. You could target individual ship subsystems to disable them and your crew could repair them as damage came in. It adds another layer of complexity with the ability to train officers who can specialize in one of four areas with the tradeoff of them requiring higher-quality quarters in exchange.
I did have some issues with the game. The first attempt at playing completely locked the game up and necessitated that I end the task through Windows. I also had a crash when attacking my first pirate base, though the game’s autosave system let me continue right where I left off. Generation of a new galaxy or a dungeon for ground combat occasionally chugged my computer, too.
Galactic Crew has a lot of rough edges, but I think it makes for a promising Early Access title with a good deal of potential. If you enjoy roguelites in the style of FTL, I think you’ll find something to enjoy in this game despite its downsides.
Galactic Crew was covered on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.
Covered by Samuel Guglielmo
I am a real sucker for the Dead Space series. While I love all three entries, and even the two spin-offs, quite a bit, I haven’t really found any sci-fi horror that scratches the itch. One day while browsing the Nintendo Switch’s store I saw Hollow and thought I finally hit gold. It looked like a high-quality sci-fi horror game that would finally satisfy. I could not be more wrong.
The game puts you in the role of a pilot arriving at a mysterious space station. Why is he there? Well, there’s some opening monologue about how his memories are iffy and he keeps thinking about this space station. That’s about the most given. After that, I was treated to some really generic plot notes, like weird religious space cults and mysterious survivors.
You’ll learn this by slowly hobbling through an extremely dark environment. I don’t know what’s wrong with my character, but I can only assume both of his legs are broken. He can only really limp along at one of the slowest walking speeds I’ve seen in a game. Use the sprint button, and things don’t get any faster.
It doesn’t help that the game is pitch black. I had to turn the game’s brightness as high as I could just to see it. Sure there’s a flashlight, but it barely showed anything. I know this is the point of horror, limiting your view so you’ll be more surprised when things jump out and make scary noises. However, I couldn’t even manage the basics of getting around the environment.
After about 15 minutes of wandering around in the dark, I finally figured out where I was supposed to go. Sure there’s a map, but when you try to use it then it only displays right at your feet and makes it nearly impossible to actually see anything. The map is almost shocking in how useless it is, at least until I figured out how useless everything in Hollow is. Then it just fit right in.
Finally, I hit my first monsters. I guess these moments are supposed to be a thrilling chase scene. In reality, I slowly limped away from some super generic naked women with extra limbs. Eventually, I lost myself in the twisting pitch black corridors. Things got even harder when the game’s framerate plummeted, as the game was unable to handle more than a couple enemies at once. Sure enough, I died. Even worse, Hollow deleted all my progress up until that point, forcing me to start over from the beginning.
My second attempt only took me a little further. While I got past the chase scene, I then became stuck and unable to advance. It felt like the designers knew where I had to go but had no interest in letting me in on the secret. Eventually, I became sick of Hollow. I hated every second that I was spending on it, and I finally just shut the game off.
My search for horror sci-fi continues. While I got a few targets on the horizon, I can safely say that Hollow is well behind me. Its first hour left me confused, annoyed, and just disappointed. I can’t suggest this mess to anyone, not even the genre’s most die-hard fans.
What do you think of this week’s Coverage Club selections? Do you know of an overlooked game that deserves another chance? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow our Steam Curator to keep up to date with all our reviews.