You know, kids these days have got it easy; at least when it comes to finding a form of entertainment to pass the time. Advances in technology have not only brought arcades into our homes, but also cinemas and to some extent, the whole wide world within the streams of social media. It’s easy to watch the latest movies or vlogs and even download games for instant play. It was never like that when I was a kid though. We had to wait for Christmas to watch the latest movie, which was usually five years old by that time, or play a board game to get any sense of a role-play adventure. It’s one of the reasons why kids of yesteryear were always outside playing, but on those depressing rainy days, it was hard. However, one of my favourite past times during those times, was to pick up a good comic book, much like Eagle and Dan Dare, or 2000 AD and Judge Dredd. Its grown up and gritty style and hard-hitting artworks provided many hours of entertainment and it’s a style that has been superbly recreated within Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition as it draws a release onto the Nintendo Switch.
Developed by Snowhound Games and published through 1C Entertainment, Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition send you on a mission to delve into the derelict hulls of alien spacecraft, in a randomly-generated, dungeon-crawling, turn-based mechanic of combat and deep space exploration; all within the visual appeal of an eighties-style comic book presentation. Set within a dystopian future, mankind has spread itself across the vast expanses of space, splitting its societal values into two distinct classes: the scavengers and the citizens. Whilst one lives among the luxuries of planetside life, the other resides amongst the wreckage of alien spacecraft as they loot and craft themselves an existence. This is where you come in, as you lead a band of scavengers on a mission to discover the location of a fabled alien mothership that lies within the Deep Sky Sector; its successful outcome granting you a one-way ticket to citizenship and a life of comfort.
The game starts with you picking a three-man squad with which to embark with. Each of these characters hold a host of customisable options, from class types and stat differences, to the names and look of each squad member, as well as your overall squad name. From here you are presented with a view of your space craft within its hangar, as well as two establishments that represent the local dealer and the local bar. From the bar you can obtain a series of side quests and hire mercenaries, whilst the local dealer can supply you with much needed goods. Once you have stockpiled and taken further missions in order to accrue much-needed funds, you then plot a course for one of the derelict space hulks that float aimlessly within your sector of space.
Once on-board the derelict vessel of your choosing, the game screen presents a very basic overview of the hull, with an outline of its structure and a series of white squares that denotes the rooms your team can enter. From here you plot a path for your team to traverse, or emit a pulse that scans and reveals surrounding squares and what may reside within them. Different symbols show a variety of representations from locations that can be searched to key characters and enemies. With this advance knowledge of what locations hold, you can then better plan your team’s pathways and actions you wish to take. However, one important element of the gameplay comes in the form of energy. You begin with 1000 units and each action, whether it be movement, scanning, searching or partaking in combat, reduces your energy levels. Once they reach zero, then your team becomes ineffective and ultimately, death occurs.
In order to combat this, you must ensure that you return to your ship before the energy gauge reaches zero. From here, you can then return to your home base, replenish your energy stocks and continue from where you left off within the exploration of the derelict craft. As you explore each room within each hulk, you can trigger all manner of events and interact with all manner of NPCs; some friendly, whilst other are distinctly foe. Your key objectives throughout though, remain the completion of any side-quests to ensure you accrue enough funds to keep your party fully stocked and finding the vital keys of information that lead you ever closer to the location of the fabled mothership. Once you have fulfilled this criteria, you can then move on to the next derelict craft, restock on vital equipment and take on new missions.
Exploration of each vessel always leads to some form of encounter, and it’s here where the game takes on another element within its mechanics of combat. When faced with an enemy, your party lines up on one side of the room and your enemy stands opposite. Across the bottom of the screen, a series of cards then come into play; some of them denoting the order of turn, whilst the others present you with a series of options in a tactical play off against your enemy. When it comes to character turns, you can then decide from a variety of cards on offer, which usage to implement. These can range from basic attack modes to other attack variations, to more defensive measures that replenish shields or health, or provide team mates with buffs and healing properties. In a turn-based mechanic, each character faces off until all party members have been reduced to zero health; whether it be your squad of scavengers or the enemy encountered.
Exploration and combat wins also presents you with new cards to add to your arsenal, as well as items that can range from stronger shield generators to weapon attachments in order to enhance your offensive and defensive capabilities. If there’s one area where the game falters slightly, it’s in these elements of sorting out inventories and equipping party members with the right items. Within a myriad of screens and options, the information given to you can be a bit overwhelming at times and confusing at best. However, you can call upon the option to automatically select items that best suit your character, class and weapon. Admittedly though, there’s also plenty here for you to get your teeth into if you want to distribute goods yourself. It does add a huge layer of depth to the gameplay, but can be one that some players may find a bit too complicated for its own good.
In fact, when it comes to the overall level of gameplay that this game has to offer, there is plenty to get yourself lost into. It isn’t a particularly difficult game, but it does run at a a pace that does take time and in my own personal opinion, is a game that is all the better for it. You can literally lose hours as you explore each ship, complete its missions, solve its puzzles and navigate its menus. In this respect, there’s a lot here to keep you going over the long-term. Although the layout of each derelict is randomly-generated, the events that happen within them aren’t, meaning that you do see a lot of what it has to offer within a couple of hours, but it’s the simple lure of adventuring and exploring, upgrading and looting that simply keeps you going. This is all further bolstered by some impressive presentations. All of its events and narratives are shown in a detailed comic-book style; even the combat moves and outcomes. Its audio qualities also provide a fitting backdrop to the locations and stories that push the game along.
Overall, Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition is a must game for anyone who enjoys turn-based and card driven adventures with combat and exploration. Its randomly generated maps and unknowingness in what you may find, produce an endless level of gameplay and its deep and involving menus of upgrades, items and outfitting can provide an interesting investment; although for some, it may be little overwhelming. Its presentation is superbly crafted and all of its elements combine to produce a game that you can literally sink yourself into for hours on end. However, its ability to save at any point, meaning you can drop-in and drop-out at ease, also makes it an ideal casual game that will certainly last over the long term. Couple this with the game also coming bundled with its previous DLC expansions, New Prospects and Station Life that brings a host of content, as well as an extra play mode in Arena, which is simply a wave-based survival exercise, then you simply end up with a game that is as huge as any of the derelict hulks that you are tasked with exploring.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition provides a slow-paced, but thoroughly interesting, dungeon crawler with random levels and card-based combat.