3030 Deathwar Redux - A Space Odyssey is a game that speaks out to fans of sci-fi renegades such as Han Solo and Mal Reynolds. It places you in the shoes of the wise cracking John Falcon, who gets caught up in a plot to save the universe after he's sold a stolen space shuttle.
The story involves an evil faction wanting to rid the universe of all life, and a secret, altruistic society who are battling to save it. The plot isn't anything special, though thankfully the game doesn't take itself too seriously. The writing is witty and Falcon and the supporting characters have real personality; a commendable factor considering the lack of voice acting.
Where the game really shines is in its space travel. Deathwar gives players a large number of galaxies to explore and makes travelling to each one a remarkable event. From entering light speed for the first time, getting caught up in dangerous nebula, or literally flying too close to the sun, the game celebrates the wonders and indeed the dangers of space travel.
To do all this though, you'll need a shuttle, and Deathwar offers an amazing amount of variety to players to fly around space in. And depending on what missions you're undertaking, certain ships will be more or less suited to the job. For instance, if you enjoy mining or salvaging loot from destroyed space stations, then you'll want a ship with a large cargo hold. However, if you're going after wanted felons, you'll likely want a nimble shuttle with good combat abilities. There are also various upgrades available for your ship. Certain upgrades, such as the Alien Translator, will make new missions become available, whereas others might offer fuel saving options or speed boosts. And thankfully, each time you purchase a new ship, your upgrades will roll over.
Unfortunately Deathwar doesn't offer so much variety with its missions. Most of the game's missions are fetch quests or delivery jobs. These missions are fine and give players easy cash rewards, early in-game when it's needed most. However, even the main story has too many of these types of missions, and the pacing of the game takes a serious hit. Other missions such as bounties and time sensitive taxi runs break up the monotony, but it's a shame the game leans so heavily on dull missions. However, it's not like there's not a lot to do in the game. You can explore the universe to your heart's content, taking salvage from crashed ships, engaging in space fights and even take part in a dangerous racing game called Moneyball.
When you do get in space battles, combat is simple but exciting. The top-down view makes battles quick and deadly. It's very easy to find yourself outgunned and outmanoeuvred, and you need to be certain of the what weapons and upgrades you're bringing into battle. For instance, missiles can pack a serious punch but must be purchased individually, meaning if you haven't got enough money, you may be ill-prepared for fights.
When you're not flying around star systems, players can explore the various space stations that litter the universe. Visually, the exteriors of each space station is different enough so that finding a new one always feels exciting. Unfortunately the same can't be said of the interiors, which all seem to feature the same basic layout, no matter where you are. Its indicative of the game's repetitive tendencies and Deathwar doesn't so much suffer from a lack of things to do, rather a lack of variation.
When you board space stations, gameplay changes to a 2D perspective and you can chat to other travellers, purchase ships and upgrades, and accept new missions. Occasionally a mission requires you to board a planet and shoot some enemies, though there's fairly little effort required on players' parts for these jobs.
Visually the game has an industrial, pixel-style aesthetic that adheres to sci-fi epics such as Bladerunner and Serenity. The universe is dingy and derelict, lit up only by neon lights and the headlights of other shuttles. Yet despite the feel of decay, developers Crunchy Leaf Games, imbue the universe with a great colour palette that makes characters and locations stand out. It's a joy to travel around the universe seeing these locations and there is a tangible sense of atmosphere.
3030 Deathwar Redux - A Space Odyssey is a game that will appeal to many sci-fi fans. There is a lot to like and for its price tag, players will probably get what they want out of it. Unfortunately the game is let down by a series of repetitive missions and a lack of variety. 3030 Deathwar Redux - A Space Odyssey doesn't aim to be an open-world adventure, but the microcosmic adventure it offers never feels like enough.
3030 Deathwar Redux - A Space Odyssey (Reviewed on Steam)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
3030 Deathwar Redux - A Space Odyssey offers a stunning universe to explore but forgets to fill it with a fun variety of things to do.