Space is an expansive playground, rich with discovery and mystery. What secrets will you discover? Or what horrors await in the abyss? The only way to find out is to take the first step. Take a deep breath and gear up, because it’s time to enter Hazardous Space.
When I first fired up Hazardous Space, I was invited into its universe with the rich 2D graphics. Like a Saturday morning cartoon, the characters display different personalities and appearances, such as your crew member who looks an awful lot like some dinosaur from one of the Jurassic Park movies. Its name happens to be
Hazardous Space reminds me of the acclaimed space-horror game, Dead Space. This isn’t a knock on the game, but it’s interesting to see different creators make their own interpretation of something that was widely popularized in the gaming generation of the early 2000s..
The story of Hazardous Space stars Max Carnage, a former marine that leads a ragtag crew of mercenaries on a typical delivery job. Things go terribly wrong, as when you drop off your package, it turns out all of the crew are infected with some disease, leaving them to be a zombie-like state. Yes, we have a space-zombie epidemic it seems.
The game play of Hazardous Space is traditional turn-based combat. You take turns fighting against different infected crew mates, each displaying different abilities, such as one that summons other crew mates to attack you. After each fight, you’re able to loot the room with whatever you can find, from a melee weapon that’s an axe to a med kit that will come in handy with all the fights you take on. Additional ranged weapons are available if you want to switch up combat tactics against the multiple zeds you encounter.
Another thing that factors into the game play is health and energy. Max has a finite amount of health that needs to be replenished each time he takes hits from the space zeds, but players are also tasked with balancing out his use of energy. Energy is used each time Max traverses from room to room as well as during the combat sequence against enemies.
In addition to the turn based combat, Max is able to craft more powerful weapons. The loot gained from fallen enemies is combined at a resource station and gives you an upper hand in combat against the space zeds. This was a nice addition to the game as I initially expected no depth to the main game play of Hazardous Space..
When I started my play through of the game, I did have to look around to figure out how to look into my inventory. There are different items Max can use to heal himself, equip different weapons, as well as add additional bonuses to his gear. One example was a shield power up I found that would protect me for 2 attacks, then would disappear. Though this was disappointing, I was happy to learn I could loot other items to compensate for expended resources.
One thing that Hazardous Space doesn’t mess around with is permadeath. Max has to reach a certain point in the game that will allow him to save from that point on, but if you die, you start back over with the same gear, but all that progress you made quest wise is gone. I had to eat through health packs to keep Max in the fight. There was an added option of a death gas introduced into the environment that was prompted before the game started. Progress through the game seems like a rolling boulder, inching closer to your expected demise. For anyone that isn’t a fan of this feature, you can choose to turn this off in a new game play through.For added suspense, I locked in my decision to go with the poisonous gas to add in the urgency of combat and exploration.
Hazardous Space is still in early access, but it doesn’t hold the game from its fun value. One thing that the developer is toying around with is multiple endings, as well as the randomly generated room system. Each play through will be different, engaging players to come back for a different experience each time. The other thing that allows innovation to flourish with the game is the side scrolling perspective, as well as the choice to make it turn based. I would expect this game to be a full action game, but taking risks is what makes this game thrive on the already tense environment Coffee Cat Games has managed to accomplish.
With all the good things mentioned about Hazardous Space, there are drawbacks that make you want to take the first escape pod back to the home screen. Hazardous Space excels at causing players to think on their feet, but also doesn’t always guide them to do what’s next. I think that could be a strong point to the game if they are encouraging exploration, rather than just random blips on a map you have to investigate. The other thing that holds back Hazardous Space is the repetition in combat. You attack, they attack, rinse and repeat. The one thing that is unique about the combat system is you can target specific areas and it will tell Max which one is more effective to hit. The endless grind is necessary in the early part of the game to better equip Max, but it holds more weight as you fight tougher enemies. Other players have reported in the reviews of low quality loot in their game plays, but the randomly generated rooms and loot are a surprise each time.
Drawbacks aside, Hazardous Space is another worthy entry in the rogue-lite and space horror genre. The randomly generated rooms, crafting system, and popping visuals engage players wanting to unravel the mystery of the space crews’ fateful last voyage. As Max dives deeper into the chaos of the otherworldly dead, it becomes apparent that Hazardous Space grows beyond just another adventure space game.
As of this writing, Hazardous Space is on sale for 8.49 USD. Originally, it’s 9.99 USD. I’d highly recommend this game if you want something different to try and being challenged with the daunting element of permadeath. I look forward to seeing how this game evolves and when it’s finally released from early access. Here’s to Coffee Cat Games and an ambitious future for Hazardous Space.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this Preview. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.