Title: Rebel Galaxy Outlaw
Developer: Double Damage
Publisher: Double Damage
Genre: Space Simulation
Audience: Rating Pending (Some strong language, space combat violence)
Release Date: 13/8/2019
Price: £23.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw is the second game in the Rebel Galaxy series from Double Damage. A prequel to 2015’s Rebel Galaxy, Outlaw adds a third dimension and cockpit focused gameplay. Does it live up to its unique predecessor? Read on for our Rapid Review to find out!
The original Rebel Galaxy differed from typical space sims because it portrayed lumbering capital ships instead of nimble fighters. These ships resembled Star Destroyers and Battlestars instead of X-Wings and TIE Fighters. To make this work, Double Damage placed you on a 2D plane, with the action resembling the naval combat in Assassin’s Creed. This worked well and made for an enjoyable experience. Progress felt substantial, and despite a lacklustre story, the game excelled at what it was attempting to do.
Outlaw, on the other hand, is more in line with classic space sims. This time the game is played from a cockpit instead of a zoomed out camera view. Your ships, while not always nimble, move and fight in three dimensions. While this game was made for controllers, it’s one you could easily use a stick and throttle for. The scale of the ships resembles the Millenium Falcon rather than a small fighter or large capital ship. And from a gameplay perspective, all of it largely works. Narratively, this game serves as a prequel, casting you as Juno, the aunt of the main character in the first Rebel Galaxy.
Playing with a controller feels great, and the way that Double Damage has incorporated the left trigger is excellent. By pulling and holding this trigger, your ship will automatically work to keep your target in view. This combines matching your speed with doing most of the stick work. It’s a welcome thing that gives the combat a much more accessible feel than something like Star Citizen or Elite: Dangerous.
And these truly are the modern comparison points. Elite, with its complex docking and planetary entry components. Star Citizen with its practised flight model. Compared to both of these games, Outlaw feels far more accessible and approachable. Sadly, it misses a lot of the depth of these titles. While many will be relieved not to have to dock their lumbering space truck manually, I love that about Elite. I want to do things like fly through the mail slot and find my landing pad, go through complicated menus to vent my heat and go silent to get past a blockade. I want to spend hours mastering a complicated travel system. Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw wants me to blow things up.
The structure of Outlaw is simple. Pick up missions, either procedurally generated ones or story missions, from a station. Fly to a waypoint. Kill, return to the station, rinse, and repeat. Docking and travelling are done by pointing your ship at a station or waypoint and holding a button-down. Thankfully, for this game, the combat is enjoyable enough to make this formula work. You can also do some space trucking and trading, but honestly, without the minutiae of travel and docking found in something like Elite, trading winds up feeling rather dull.
Sadly, a lack of ship variety also hurts Outlaw. With just 5 different ships (9 if you count some stronger duplicates with the same model), there doesn’t feel like there’s much to strive for. The story lacks a real pull and amassing credits stop being as excited when you’ve got the ship you want with the loadout you like. I hit this point after a dozen or so hours and stalled on my desire to keep pushing.
With those negatives aside, one less disappointing area lies in the game’s visual and audio design. The ship and stations designs that are present are cool, despite being limited. Pulling up to a huge spinning roulette wheel in space that acts as a casino station is neat, and unique locations like this pepper the game’s world. The ship designs are also colourful and interesting, running the gamut from literal space dump truck up to sleek military hardware. Outlaw also features an amazing ship editor that allows you to customize every part of your ship’s paint job visually. It’s a tool that resembles Photoshop in its complexity. As someone who is less artistically inclined, I do wish they had built in a paint scheme browser a la Forza though.
On the audio front, Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw offers a vast soundtrack of licensed and original music. With several unique radio stations complete with fictional in-game advertisements and DJs, the radio resembles what you’d find in a Grand Theft Auto game. It’s a great fit aesthetically, and it blends with the solid voice performances and sound effects that populate the rest of the game’s soundscape.
Ultimately, I wish I found more variety and depth from both a ship collecting and storytelling perspective in Outlaw. It offers such compelling combat, but without something to strive for, it was hard for me to stay invested. I do think this game is the perfect jumping-on point for players who see Elite: Dangerous as too intimidating. It offers an approachability unmatched by other games in the genre, and I am sure it would act as a perfect gateway for new space sim fans. I wish it had hooked me a little bit deeper.
Rapid Reviews Rating
Buy on the Epic Games Store: https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/rebel-galaxy-outlaw/home
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.