Review: Space Run

While the price might be a little steep for a game that doesn't revolutionise the formula, since it's appreciably higher than most other games in the genre, one can' deny that it is a well-designed and good-looking entry into the genre that adds its unique spin on things.  Definitely one to pick up on a sale, at least, however.
Review: Space Run
Date published: Jul 26, 2014
2 / 3 stars

Space Run is a mobile tower defense game in a science-fiction setting developed by Passtech Games and published by Focus Home Interactive.  It's another entry into a pretty saturated genre and it's fairly pricey, so is it worth the price?

Space Run inverts the genre in an interesting way

Space Run's central mechanic and it's prime difference between it and other games in the genre is that rather than having the enemies go along a set track and you placing stationary towers along them, or the other popular inversion of you being the one on the track and the enemies having the tower, both you and the enemies are going on a track.  The central conceit is that you are essentially a space trucker who is charged with transporting cargo from point A to point B, starting with a base ship and the cargo, and upgrading the ship with all variety of weapons, defensive system, and other special support system

The progression offers a fair breadth of variety,
but comes at the cost of repetitive grinding

As you complete runs you gain money you can use to buy new towers, which are unlocked on a general progression curve determined by "reputation". the reputation basically gained by doing new missions.  The towers are very varied and each one has three upgrades.  Combined with the fact that the amount of buildable ship area and the design of that ship varies with each of the missions you have, as well as the cargos which can have different effects with ones with more detrimental effects having greater reward for delivery, and the game has a great deal of variety.

The side effect of this progression system is because of the small amount of missions available (a handful each for 4 different delivery companies) you have to go back and reply missions to get the money you need to have things to the level you need them to be able to progress in the next unlocked mission.  It makes that content deficiency in the missions all the more pronounced when you're repeating the same ones over and over.

Space Run feels and controls well

Controls in Space Run are one of the aspects that it does really well and part of why the game works as well as it does.  The interface is pretty intuitive and doesn't require a lot of mucking about.  Applying special abilities is just a matter of right clicking the tower in question and selecting the ability from a radial menu.  Constructing towers is done by selecting the category and then the tower to build, and then clicking where to place it, but each of the towers is bound to a hotkey you can use for much quicker building.  It works very smoothly and is a lot of why I found the game manageable with the lack of pause.

The lack of time-compression or a pause is a curious omission

The one thing that really stands out as a problem with the controls is more in their design or the design of the game itself, depending on how you look at it, and that is the omission of any time-compression or slowdown/pause abilities.  They are a staple of the genre so their omission is noteworthy just on its own face, but it also changes the pace of the game significantly.  It means that often you can end up overwhelmed and unable to do everything you need to be able to do, to succeed in the mission.

Some people would say that this is more on the controls than the lack of the time compression, because if the controls were quicker this would be less of an issue, and there is some truth to that, while the game controls well there are some extraneous clicking - if you use mouse rather than hotkeys - but even if you're as quick on the draw as you can be, you're still going to be pushed by this.  An option for a tactical pause would also make the game more accessible to newcomers to the genre.

The game has a lot of character but
the ingame voiceovers for events are highly repetitive

Actually, I rather enjoyed the touches of character the game gives the main characters involved, as silly as they are. The game doesn't take itself too seriously and is a good bit more fun for it, but once you get ingame, the feedback voiceovers you get are very limited, there's maybe five altogether, and with how often they occur, they would be grating even if they were voiced by Sir Patrick Stewart or some other extremely talented voice. It gets pretty repetitive and turning voice off while in game will probably be advisable as a result.

While the price might be a little steep for a game that doesn't revolutionise the formula, since it's appreciably higher than most other games in the genre, one can'  deny that it is a well-designed and good-looking entry into the genre that adds its unique spin on things.  Definitely one to pick up on a sale, at least, however.