Adding a space twist to the most mundane jobs on the planet can make anything feel highly exciting. Space Run puts you in the space boots of Buck Mann, the ultimate space trucker, who is accompanied by his space android Adaam-12 (okay, I’ll stop with the space puns). Space Run plays out how I would imagine delivering goods would be handled in two of my favorite sci-fi fictions: Star Wars andFuturama. Space Run is an enjoyable blend of tower-defense, strategy, and a witty narrative.
While the job may vary during each mission, the goal is the same: safely transport the cargo to the specified spaceport. Of course being in the infinite void of space, you’ll encounter all sorts of resistance along the way. The earlier missions will get you accustomed to the games mechanics, pitting you against small asteroids that are destroyed with relative ease. Before pulling away from the dock, you must arrange the cargo on your ship consisting of varying designs of hexagonal panels. At first, I placed standard shipping crates in the rear without any thought, but once I started transporting explosive nuclear material, I planned things out more accordingly. Later missions feature crystals that will drain the power of nearby panels, requiring you to think before placing anything. When the first large asteroid crashes into your ship and all of your engines explode leaving you a sitting duck for more asteroids or space pirates, your appreciate the subtlety of preparing beforehand.
There is only a single camera view for the game, but you are able to zoom in and out with the keyboard. The standard overhead view gets the job done, but I much rather have direct control over the zoom using a mouse wheel, instead of holding a key for either a zoomed in view or a zoomed out. Unless you are being overwhelmed and miss the indicator, you will always know where enemies will be coming from and what path they will take. Asteroids have the tendency to move in a straight line across your ship, but space pirates are more agile, moving around your ship with relative ease. To prepare your precious cargo space ship for defense, you’ll be able to spend the game’s currency, hexnuts, on shields, engines and cannons. Hexnuts are earned slowly over time, but destroying other ships and asteroids will provide a quick influx if you are quick enough to hover over the “dropped” loot in similar fashion to gathering sunlight in Plants vs. Zombies.
With the threat of attack from the entire 360 degrees, you’ll have to stay on your toes in the later missions when the difficulty begins to ramp up. The starting missions are simplistic, allowing you to complete them with an overwhelming force of cannons. More difficult missions will force you to modify your strategy, by alternating the type of ships that will attack you, as well as attacking you from all sides. Cannons for the most part have a limited area they are able to cover at any given moment. You are free to rotate their position, allowing you turn a front facing cannon to protect your port-side, as long you have an open hexagonal panel next to it for the cannon to occupy. If you ever find yourself in the immediate need of free space, you can recycle anything that you previously placed. In the same fashion, you are able to repair constructed modules as long as the cooldown timer is up.
Space Run isn’t all about destroying everything that dares to wonder in your vicinity. As you complete missions you are given stars that will unlock new missions. As you would expect a delivery service to have, there are three different delivery types. Completing a mission in the standard time will earn you the default three stars, while ensuring the goods arrive sooner will give you additional stars. In order to accomplish this, you must build additional thrusters at the cost of precious space on your ship, which could be occupied by additional firepower. Thrusters can also be temporarily disabled, slowing your ship to a halt. You may not think it, but it does come in handy when trying to gain hexnuts for destroying disabled space pirate ships. The occasional boss battles are quite harrowing, requiring you to constantly switch directions that your weapons are facing and rebuild as fast as possible.
Hexnuts are also used at the end of each mission to purchase new modules as well as upgrade existing ones. I found myself replaying some earlier missions, if I found myself stuck in order to earn additional hexnuts for upgrades.
Space Run has proved that the tower-defense genre can be molded into one of the more enjoyable narratives of the year, as well as keeping the gameplay fresh from start to finish. The dialogue between missions are chock full of sci-fi references and are fully voiced.Note: Space Run was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.