Fire up those rocket boosters, strap down the cargo, Space Run is leaving port today for the great unknown! Space Run describes itself as a “real-time spaceship construction strategy game” and is published by Focus Home Interactive. Borrowing aspects from a mixture of genres, Space Run is a re-imagining of the traditional tower defense game.
You play as Captain Buck Mann, a pilot with a legendary reputation for being the fastest Space Runner around. A rogue gentleman with a slight attitude, Mann feels like Han Solo in many ways. Imagine Han Solo before he met up with Luke Skywalker, the missions in Space Run feel like the stuff Han would be doing pre-Star Wars. Android co-pilot Addam-12, who is kind of like the computer from Defense Grid, accompanies you on your journey through space. Thematically, there were numerous ideas in the story that felt reminiscent of other sci-fi adventures I’ve experienced in the past. That actually didn’t diminish the game for me though, in a lot of ways it made understanding the characters a lot easier.
From the beginning of the game, nearly everything in Space Run is voice acted. This adds a lot of polish to the overall experience. Players start out the early missions by doing work for the CEO of a large space corporation, a female character with pulled back hair and a rather serious demeanor. After completing some missions you’ll unlock new business associates that are willing to hire you to run their cargo. You’ll end up meeting a lot of crazy characters throughout the game.
The speed of gameplay in Space Run is moderate for the most part, although there are times when the combat turns quite fast-paced. When you begin a mission, you’ll configure your ship by placing cargo on the hex-grid of your ship. The cargo changes based on who you’re transporting for and what their specific goal is. You’re pretty much just flying a giant space barge.
Once you’re airborne, you’ll need to begin building out your ship. There are many dangers along the way, so it’s crucial to build defenses quickly. Your turrets have shooting angles that limit their ability to hit targets on all 4 sides of the ship. As the dangers in Space Run come from all angles though, some turrets have the ability to be re-positioned. Experienced players will find themselves constantly re-positioning their turrets to do maximum damage. Figuring out the best ship configuration while blasting through space and fighting off pirates can require a good deal of quick strategic thinking.
Delivering the goods intact and on time is always the mission. But, as an additional goal, you’ll also be racing the against clock to deliver quicker times. If you can configure your ship with enough engines, you’ll be able to beat the two faster delivery goals. Making the top delivery time for each mission awards you with additional funds and reputation, both are used to acquire new technology for your ship. Unlocking new turrets might allow you to go back to a previous mission and try to reach a faster delivery time. It’s not possible to complete every mission at the fastest time from the beginning, you’ll oftentimes have to settle for just staying alive.
During some of the missions, you’ll find yourself engaging in boss battles. The first battle against a crazy space pirate came as a complete surprise to me. I found myself totally unprepared for his firepower. I rethought my first ship’s configuration and played a lot smarter during our second encounter, it made me a better Space Runner overall. Since you’re still racing the clock, the boss battles really put on the pressure.
The sound and graphics are well done and give the game a nice aesthetic. I did have some trouble with how some of the turrets have red lights on them that look very similar to the damage meter for the turret. I often found myself clicking on turrets with full health thinking they were in dire need of repair. Additionally, I was sad to find that Nvidia Shadowplay did not work with Space Run. I’m not sure if this is a problem with my PC, Shadowplay, or the game itself.
Overall, Space Run is an experience that I’m really glad I was able to have. I enjoyed this alternative take on the traditional tower defense format a lot. The periods of hectic combat combined with strategic base building makes for a fun tactical challenge that should appeal to many gamers. Racing against the clock while optimizing your ship’s configuration can difficult, but delivering your cargo ahead of schedule is so rewarding. If you’re a person that likes to strategize while being asked to perform at your best, Space Run is definitely a game for you. Space Run is available on Steam and is currently on sale until June 20th for 25% off the retail price.