Way back in October of 2015, I reviewed Rebel Galaxy. This spacefaring game dropped you into a randomly-arranged universe with a bucket of space bolts for a ship and not much else as you tried to find your relative Juno Markev. I found it a boatload of fun and smiled ear-to-ear upon hearing about its prequel. And so here I am, doing our Rebel Galaxy Outlaw review and seeing if it can hold up to a slight genre shift and whether or not Double Damage Games has kept their magic touch.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw Review — It's Been So LongIt's been nearly four years since I've been in the universe of Rebel Galaxy and the changes since the first game were absolutely staggering. The previous game had you searching for your aunt Juno Markev in a randomly-arranged galaxy. Combat took place on a 2D plane and you could eventually command gigantic battleships with batteries of laser cannons. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw hearkens back to a simpler time and shifts the gameplay to space combat, plopping you into the seat of a fighter as Juno Markev herself in her younger days.
The opening movie wordlessly establishes the setting nicely. Juno Markev walks into a seedy bar looking for a man. She finds him and ends up in an altercation, shooting him in the head (non-fatally, mind) and fleeing to her ship. She engages in an intense dogfight which ends in a crash landing on the planet below. It is here that the game begins proper.
Juno's motivation for the attack on the mysterious man was simple enough: he killed her husband. Unfortunately, she's failed in her first strike and has been left destitute. Borrowing the space equivalent of a garbage truck for a friend, you head out into the system to make a few bucks and set yourself up for an epic quest for revenge. Along the way, you'll meet all sorts of strange allies and enemies, fight everything from deadly space pirates to religious zealots, and fire off more ordnance than an artillery company on a training exercise.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw Review — Accessible Space CombatUnlike its predecessor, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a full 3D space combat game. These sorts of titles are not for the faint of heart. That's likely one of the reasons there's an "Auto pursuit" system that will track a target you've locked onto. Keep holding down the button and the system will keep your target in view and maintain your speed.
For someone not well-versed in this genre, it's a nice innovation and a move towards accessibility. For someone like me who loves space combat games, it's a crutch that I feel waters down the overall experience. It doesn't help that many of the available guns are turrets that auto-track within a small range; I found that it was possible to hold down the auto-track button and the guns button and kill a target with much more ease than I should have.
Guns with automatic tracking in a small field of fire aren't bad on their own. An auto-tracking system isn't bad on its own. Combine the two, and you have something that makes combat far too easy most of the time. Thankfully, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw also provides players with the option to simply unbind the button entirely. If you're in this for a hardcore space combat sim experience, you won't get that out of the box. You can, however, tweak the settings to suit your desired level of challenge without too many problems. Mostly.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw Review — Customizable Controls (and Baffling Oversights)Rebel Galaxy Outlaw offers up a staggering amount of customization in terms of its controls. I tried my hand at playing with a joystick, a mouse and keyboard, and an Xbox 360 controller and found using any mix of these worked well. I ultimately spent the majority of my review using a joystick and a keyboard, occasionally switching the mouse to make navigating menus easier. The game switches to other control devices on the fly without too much in the way of problems. I did encounter an issue where it couldn't quite decide whether to use the keyboard binding or the joystick binding for a particular function in the menus, but I'm sure that's something that can be fixed easily enough.
That said, there are some notable oversights in the crazy amount of key bindings available to players. As an example, there is a key binding that serves two functions: increasing your thrust by a step and doing context actions. These actions can include making one of a handful of "A or B" decisions at critical story points, activating autopilot to fast travel to a far-off destination, tractoring in loose cargo, and activating a jump gate.
Unfortunately, these actions can intersect at just the wrong time. I've destroyed a pirate at a jump gate only to find that I couldn't jump away. I was too close to a stash of contraband cargo, so I had to float out of the way. I certainly wouldn't want to pick it up as there also happened to be a police officer right there. It's a minor inconvenience, but it's one that could (and should) have been avoided by providing separate key bindings for these actions.
The lack of an adjustable joystick sensitivity was also rather dismaying. If you're going to be using a joystick to play, you're going to need some sort of middleware to get the sensitivity just right.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw Review — Stay On TargetThe user interface, too, had some problems. There are a handful of things in the cockpit that you need to pay attention to. Your radar, your ship's status, your power reserve, your jump gate fuel, and your main screen. The main screen can serve one of several functions, including:
- Status of a locked target
- Video communications
- A log of recent events like credits received, damage sustained, etc.
- Weapon status and ammo count
Managing all of this critical information on one screen is terribly inconvenient. I'm flying a top-of-the-line starfighter that has over half-a-million credits invested into it, but there isn't an option to wire up a couple more monitors? I'm pretty sure I could find a guy somewhere in the Dodge sector to do it.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw Review — Pimp My StarfighterOne of the cooler aspects of Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is the ship painter. I'm not a super-talented artist, but I always relish the opportunity to customize anything I can in a game (even though it will probably take me a little longer than I'd like). You can bet your butt that I spent some time customizing my ship.
Anyone who had done any 3D modeling or work with Photoshop/GIMP will find the ship painter a familiar sight. There are two ways to go about it: paint on the ship itself or paint on the actual ship's flattened-out texture. Working with flat textures is a sort of black magic that I am incapable of understanding. Instead, I elected to paint on my hull directly.
I tried and tried to get straight lines for some stripes, but I just didn't have the precision to get it done. Thankfully, a stencil tool allows you to import literally any image and slap it onto the side of your ship however you like. Scale it, rotate it, whatever! I made a large rectangle in GIMP, imported it, and used it as a guide for my stripes and other fine details. I also imported the TechRaptor logo because hey, what's cooler than having a scary raptor on the side of your starfighter?
After I had made a satisfactory paint job, I saved it and... that was it. No long compile time or complicated save process. It was ready to go, right there, and stayed on my ship for the remainder of the game with zero errors or problems. I found it truly impressive, and I genuinely hope that more games use Rebel Galaxy Outlaw as an example of how to facilitate customization for players. (Imagine this level of customization in a Warhammer 40,000 game!)
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Bountiful Vista is a station that you can purchase for 50,000 Credits. It starts as an empty space inside an asteroid, but you can grow it into a bustling port through a series of side quests.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw Review — A Smaller SelectionThere are 21 playable ships in the first Rebel Galaxy game. Come Rebel Galaxy Outlaw review time and I find myself somewhat disappointed at the much smaller selection of ships — for the player, anyway.
Throughout the campaign, you encounter all sorts of cool craft. Bulky ships that look like a B2 Bomber in space. Lengthy, fish-like fighters bustling with turrets and missile launchers. Tiny pods built more for speed than survivability. When it comes to you, there's only your starter ship, five purchasable ships, and five variant designs unlocked after completing a chain of side quests.
I understand that the shift to the space combat genre somewhat reduces the possibilities for worthwhile ship designs. It may also be possible that I missed some optional ships behind a quest chain somewhere. I still would have liked to see at least one or two more options for variety's sake.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw Review— Slot Machines and JukeboxesOne of my favorite parts of my Rebel Galaxy Outlaw review was undoubtedly the music. Much like its predecessor, there is a wonderful soundtrack that really nails the space Western theme. Players can choose from one of seven radio stations for some background tunes perfect for blasting space pirates. Streamers need not worry, either — a streamer-friendly option will restrict the game to music where Double Damage Games have secured the rights for players to use it on Twitch and YouTube.
Music isn't the only diversion, though. There are a bunch of new minigames, many of them allowing you to make extra cash or earn ship components. Dice Poker, Eight-ball, and slots are available at many stations for you to play on your downtime. There's even an arcade cabinet that has a clone of the classic Asteroids game.
Little touches like this are hardly necessary — the core combat and quests are fun enough on their own. But it's nonetheless a nice value add that brings a bit of variety to an already great game.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw Review — Long Hard DaysThe graphics of Rebel Galaxy Outlaw are absolutely wonderful. Double Damage Games have managed an amazing level of detail for an indie studio comprised of five fulltime employees. Ships look crisp and clean. The humanoid creatures have a wonderful style without looking too derpy or straying into uncanny valley territory. The sounds effects really give you that "space fighter" feel, and the soundtrack perfectly encapsulates the theme of this universe.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw pulled off a hell of a trick — shifting from one genre to another one, even if it is a genre that is awfully adjacent to the first game. It doesn't always work out well, just look at Dead Space 3. In Outlaw's case, enough care and attention from a developer can make sure that it's done right. Double Damage Games pulled it off beautifully.
I spent 21½ hours for my Rebel Galaxy Outlaw review. With the exception of one particularly challenging mission that ate up hours of my time, I enjoyed every minute of it. I can wholeheartedly recommend this to fans of the space combat genre. And if you're not a fan, the built-in aim assist system will help keep your guns pointed in the right direction.
Techraptor reviewed Rebel Galaxy Outlaw on PC via the Epic Games Store with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also coming to Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.
Editor's Note: This review originally indicated that the cockpit didn't have secondary ammo indicators. We've corrected this in the text to both remain accurate and reflect our reviewer's time with the game. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
<em>Rebel Galaxy Outlaw</em> changes genres from its predecessor and manages to make a fun, compelling experience with a lot of customization options and an accessible way for nearly anyone to play.
- Tight Space Fighter Combat
- Tons Of Variety In Gameplay
- Spaceship Painter Adds Custom Flair
- Soundtrack Screams 'Space Western'
- Some Keybinding Options Aren't Included
- Auto-Tracking Makes Gameplay Too Easy
- Cockpit HUD Lacks Critical Information