Space Rogue is an indie game with focus on sci-fi space exploration and space combat in the style which is clearly heavily influenced by FTL (Faster Than Light) the game. There are major differences and big improvement from the original concept laid out by FTL which we will touch on later in this article, in general I feel that Space Rogue has made some important innovations to the gameplay of the sub-genre.

Essentially you commandeer a rather striking spacecraft and glide from one planet to the next to complete events and missions. Activities range from mining to combat to trading with merchants sticking very closely to the mechanics of many other space exploration genres.

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Putting it into context

The indie game was played on via Steam on a PC environment. It is important to note that this indie game is still in early access during the time of writing so it is not completed. Those familiar with the concept of early access will understand that this will function more as a glimpse into the final product which hopefully will be delivered soon. It is rare to see such a promising indie game on steam spotlight as many developers abuse the early access system to promote their broken and bugged indie games. At this point, Space Rogue is quite buggy in my opinion, the majority of the time my game completely glitched out, leaving me without a corrupted save thus having to restart the game. I hope that this issue will be addressed as soon as possible because Space Rogue has a lot of potential to take FTL’s throne.

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First Impression

I was instantly reminded of FTL when I started my first game, this was already widely known by most players of the game and I find this as a welcomed re-adaptation of it. Controls are very well thought out and works extremely well, they are also very easy to figure without the need for instructions. I did go through the tutorial before that so it did help quite a lot.

Rounded edges and super smooth visuals became very appealing after a few hours of playing, it was obvious that Space Rogue took the graphics approach up a notch from FTL.

The art style in the game is something worth noticing as it is a big improvement from FTL. I feel that the appeal to these games also comes from the art style they utilize thus allowing them to set the game apart from its counterparts. Though not necessarily a big improvement (depending on who you ask) I found that the new pill like graphics style with superb rounded edges makes the universe feel too safe.

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Endless replay, addicting as ****

Space Rogue focuses on the ability to endlessly replaying the game, but each time extremely unique and different due to it’s randomised universe. Each new game or new custom game will yield a completely different end goal mission, this time you might need to track down a humanist general hell bent on wiping out all other aliens, next time you might need to stop a mad robot invasion. I find this the best part of the game and the part that sets it well apart from FTL. Those that played FTL will remember that you are forced to endlessly run and stay ahead of the enemies, giving you no time to explore or get truly immersed into the game before having to run further. Well in Space Rogue its all about exploring, the map is huge and can be even bigger if you choose to make a custom game. You do not have to run straight to the objective but are free to explore as you wish, the main objective seem to only be a guideline to your experience and I find this very entertaining.

Admitting I havn’t been able to finish a single game yet, I was either slaughtered or the game bugged out on me but I find that running straight to the objective seem to be a bad idea. In fact you are encouraged to explore planets on your way to earn currency and upgrade your ship, arsenal, crew and many other aspects to be able to fight off the enemies.

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Danger at every corner

Soon after I first started, I noticed an issue immediately, the universe clearly hated me. Though the universe is randomly generated to each new game, many random encounters will pitch you into battle whether you like it or not. This was also accompanied by events that would damage your ship or puncture a hole through it. It seems like the universe in Space Rogue is constantly trying to take a bite out of my spacecraft and danger was lurking around almost every single corner.

This could either be a good thing or a bad thing, personally after playing a while I found that I got used to this fact and just accepted that pirates, aliens, federations and over stimulated peace keepers really didn’t want me to finish the game. Death was a normal event in the game and due to the game’s permanent death, this made completing the main mission very difficult.

If you spent some time scrolling through the game’s review on Steam, you will find that many other players really do not like the difficulty presented in the game. Though you can enter custom game settings, the problem is actually with the balance between negative events and positive events.

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Dispensable crew members

Unlike FTL, your crew members in Space Rogue seems extremely fragile and dispensable. The reason for this is again due to the game’s randomly generated events being too focused on killing off your crew on simple recon missions.

For example, my ship arrives at a planet with an active SOS beacon, I find that the Chaxian have sent a boarding party and they need somebody to help negotiate with them. I was kind enough to offer a hand, picking a random crew member (the duty landed on an engineer while I had plenty of Warriors for the job) and sending him/her down. And of course they get killed.

Another example was when I encountered a ruin which contained a shiny portal, one of my crew member pushed me out before it could consume me but consuming them in the process. This is only 2 of many events that will be triggered through sheer randomness and will cause you to lose countless crew members. I find this extremely frustrating and the likelihood of crew member death should only be reserved for worst case scenarios rather then every single corner of the game. This came to the point where I  didn’t want to level up my crew members fearing that it would just turn out to be an expensive investment leading to their death on the next planet.

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Excellent space combat

So far the review have been focusing on the negative aspects of the game, but let’s go through something which is very well done by the developers. The space combat in Space Rogue is very similar to FTL, but I feel is slightly better. You move crew members around performing various jobs in battle, most likely repair, taking out fire or patching up hull breaches, from a birds eye perspective. Space Rogue offers an adequate variety of weapon type that allows for tactical approach to combat and defense. At one point I found myself with 2 fires, 1 hull breach and many broken systems but utilising the crew’s control I managed to flip the hand I was dealt with and escaped my demise.

My personal favorite is inflicting hull breaches on my enemies, especially focusing on either the shield system or the weapons room. The reason for this is they take a lot longer to repair and if planned well, will force the enemy to focus on a none priority system pod before repairing an essential system like the weapons system.

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Kicking ass with great background music

The audio in Space Rogue is well done, creating a very appropriate atmosphere for the gaming experience to thrive. Special effects are all there, exploding shells, fires and laser beams all add to a very authentic space adventure feel.

Background music is another section where the game thrived, adding to the mood of the game.

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Rounding it up

In general, Space Rogue is a very good game with a lot of potential and is significantly better well polished when compared to other indie games in the steam spotlight program. Essentially it is an upgraded approach to the original FTL game from a different group of developer, many will think this as ripping off but I think Space Rogue has enough unique content to make it stand out as its own title.

The game is a little bit difficult for first timers and at the moment dishes out too harsh of a punishment at every corner. Since I reviewed this game the developer has released a patch offering many fixes to the difficulty concerns and pushes the game further into the right direction. Which is also a good sign as it would appear the developers take note from community response, an important characteristic for indie games.

As for me, I will be keeping a close watch on this game as it progresses and investing more hours to try to beat my first play through.

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