My first thought when booting up Rebel Galaxy Outlaw was “Whoa”. It opens with a gorgeous 2D animated cutscene, introducing you to the characters and the universe you’re going to be exploring. The animation was punchy and the music was great. I was hooked immediately. The art style was clean yet distinctive, and the backgrounds were especially gorgeous. Double Damage Games certainly managed one thing, and that was getting me excited to finally be a space cowboy.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a space flight and combat simulation. The main beats of the game follow through from the original Rebel Galaxy, to which Outlaw is a prequel. The game strives to make you feel like you’re a cosmic trucker, travelling from location to location on deliveries and bounties. Though you are able to visit planets, you only see them through screens and menus. In this way the game allows you to focus on the flight through space as well as the encounters you can have out there.
Flying feels great. As a big fan of that 80’s era sci-fi, I love all the bits and bobs in the cockpit. Having said that, I spent most of the time playing in third person since it’s much easier to steer your ship and aim at the same time. This is mainly due to the lock on function, which allows you to automatically angle towards an enemy ship and lock on (so long as it isn’t too far away). As someone who gets dizzy playing underwater levels in 3D platformers, this was a blessing.
Whilst locking on may sound like it makes it too easy to attack ships, this isn’t the case. The lock on will point you in the right direction, but aiming your weapons is still entirely up to you. The lock on just keeps the enemy onscreen. So I ended up using third person for combat and switched back to first person mode for cruising. This is because I adored looking out into space through the slightly smudged windshield of my ship.
“It’s always cool to explore a world populated by more than just humans, and Rebel Galaxy Outlaw delivers.”
Also, reviewing this game without mentioning the music would be doing it a disservice. Any Fallout: New Vegas fans would be happy to hear that the radio in Rebel Galaxy Outlaw embodies the same energy, smooth talking host and all.
There are seven distinct radio stations to tune into while flying across the galaxy, each with different genres, hosts, and adverts. It’s amazing how much work was put into this aspect alone. I played this game for hours without once hearing a song repeat. Tell Mr. New Vegas to step up his game because this in-game radio is giving him a run for his money.
Whilst we’re on the subject of the game’s audio: the voice acting really hits the spot, even though it could be a little dry at times. It feels like everyone is a real person just trying to get by, just like anyone you could meet on the street (the space street) and I think this is wonderful. It keeps the characters grounded, despite the lack of gravity. The lip sync and animations are a little stiff, but the number of unique animations in cutscenes keeps it pretty fresh, and the character designs are wonderful.
The leading lady, Juno, is in her 40’s and looks like it. She’s developing wrinkles and has bags under her eyes that scream exhausted. Despite all this, and despite the massive debt she accrued after her last ship was a write-off, Juno manages to be an absolute badass. I love her leather jacket and the ever present scar on her face, and that mature voice is like a breath of fresh air. She’s world weary, she’s tired, but she’ll kick your ass.
There are some neat aliens too. Orzu, the fellow who gives you your first ship, has great tentacles that wiggle around as he talks. It’s always cool to explore a world populated by more than just humans, and Rebel Galaxy Outlaw delivers.
As someone who is terrible at staying focused, I am sad to say this game is full of ways to waste your time. You can paint your ship. The whole thing. You can just go to town on it with Photoshop, which is insane. I must have spent 2 hours on this alone, and I am not an artist. I tried very hard to make the ship look like my purple Ford Fiesta. I did a bad job.
I also got to play 8-ball terribly, which is, of course, the only way I know how to play 8-ball. This is where Juno really began to shine for me. We both made the same exasperated noises every time we screwed up a shot. My immense desire to help folks also managed to get me killed a bunch of times. It took me awhile to learn that there’s no shame in ignoring a distress signal until you’re strong enough to take it on. Running away or pleading for your life are always options. Kind of embarrassing options, but options all the same.
I played through the story missions and only the story missions from then on, hoping that would prevent me from getting blown up so often. Flying place to place in my garbage heap of a ship, painted a terrible purple. I somehow ended up caught in a sibling rivalry that neither Juno nor I wanted anything to do with. But after finally obtaining the cargo I needed, the next stop was several jumps away. I did not have a jump drive, and they are not cheap.
This is where I had to start doing side missions to get more cash. Unfortunately they all boil down to one of three things: kill some guys, go to some place, or deliver some things. It gets monotonous doing these missions over and over, especially because they are picked up from a faceless machine at an outpost. I did eventually join the mercenary’s guild for hope of a more interactive experience, or at the very least some of the southern hospitality I’ve heard so much about. Alas, after paying my membership fee, I was directed to another mission vending machine. So much for customer service.
It makes all the side missions feel the same, they all merge into one another. Half the time I feel like I’m flying around and getting paid to reach a spot on the map and nothing else. While Rebel Galaxy Outlaw plays very well, I feel that it could have done with something to make the missions feel like part of the universe and differing from each other.
I feel like overall the game has lots of potential, though it can feel a little bit lonely because missions feel disconnected and mindless. I wish there were more folks to talk to, I want time to learn about the galaxy I’m living in, and to feel like I’m really helping people. The gameplay is punchy, and they did an amazing job making movement in 360 degrees feel clean. The lock on feature does wonders to make it feel like you’re zipping about and shooting varmints in their behinds, instead of just spinning in circles forever and trying not to puke.
The Bottom Line
The music is my favourite thing about Rebel Galaxy Outlaw. It really makes you feel like the rootinest tootinest cowboy in the outer reaches of space and honestly, it’s the main thing I would recommend the game for. Though I adored all the little time-wasters in the game and flying through space, it just wouldn’t be what it is without that carefully crafted country rock music in the background, and that really makes this game worth it. Have you ever wanted to be a space cowboy? Now is your chance.