[Review] Rebel Galaxy Outlaw – Nintendo Switch

Written by Richard Strachan
  • Developer: Double Damage Games
  • Publisher: Double Damage Games
  • Release date: 22/9/2020
  • Price: £26.99/$29.99
  • Review code provided by Double Damage Games

Introducing: Rebel Galaxy Outlaw Switch Review

Everyone knows the coolest character in Star Wars is Han Solo, Right? Let’s not talk about THAT scene in The Force Awakens! Despite how much of a bad-ass Mr Solo is, there’s never been a game centred on his intergalactic smuggling exploits. For anyone that’s ever ben keen to spend their days lounging in smoky bars arranging shady deals to take cargo across a galaxy far, far away – Rebel Galaxy Outlaw has you covered! It might not include the legendary Falcon, nor the wise cracking waistcoat clad legend, but the game still manages to offer up a fun slice of space piracy (should you choose the dark side of course)!

Rebel Scum

Obviously Rebel Galaxy Outlaw isn’t set in the Star Wars universe, but thankfully the game manages to build its own interesting universe full of character and spectacle. You play as Juno Markev, a former space pirate (not the Metroid variety) who has settled down into married life. After an unfortunate series of events she ends up out for revenge and back in the game.

The story takes you on a quest across the galaxy looking for those who have wronged you. Along the way you’ll take part in a hell of a lot of dogfights and engage in trading, games of pool, dice games and even play a pretty good Asteroids tribute.

The story frames the gameplay well, but isn’t hugely compelling. It functions more as an unintrusive means of framing the intergalactic piracy, dogfighting and smuggling shenanigans that form the core of the experience.

Revenge of the miffed

At the start of the game Juno sets out for revenge and immediately comes across her mark. After a botched attempt at revenge her ship is destroyed and you’re reduced to borrowing a bottom of the range ship that looks a bit like a space-faring bin lorry. Thankfully it handles a lot better than that and comes equipped with some pretty nice weaponry to set you up for a life of piracy or space justice depending on your persuasion.

The bulk of the gameplay takes place in space, as you set out on a range of missions to progress the story or explore a range of side-missions on behalf of the various colonies or in aid of the various guilds, mining groups or even a band of pirates. Missions with one faction can earn you standing with said group and in turn start to draw heat from opposing factions. This leads to you needing to set out your stall early, or alternatively managing relationships deftly like some kind of intergalactic diplomat.

Missions generally involve transporting goods, taking out ships assigned as bounties or flying into areas to research and map out an area. Most missions tend to descend into chaos at some point, which is when the game’s excellent ship handling and combat systems come into play.

Playing on the normal difficulty, you start the game with a decent automatic cannon and some homing missiles, which is more than enough to get you started on the road to being a bad ass. The game includes an excellent 3D radar system which makes it effortless to track the position of ships in relation to you, but you can also enter a targeting mode which freezes the gameplay and allows you to see a top down grid of the local area, before assessing the various targets around you and locking on to one. The game includes a brilliant tracking system whereby when locked on you can allow the game to start trailing a target, allowing you to focus on the fine tuning and combat. Combat involves managing your ammo, obtaining lock on to use missiles, setting off countermeasures to avoid enemy missiles and managing your shields by rerouting powers from your other systems as necessary. There’s a lot of depth, but the targeting system makes everything effortless.

The combat is thrilling and tense, with battle ending in a hugely satisfying explosion and more often than not leading to you swooping through the fireball and out the other side like something from your favourite Star Wars space battles.

These are not the droids you’re looking for

The combat system forms a huge part of the game, but between battles you can land on planets and stations to partake in some trading, play some games and gather some intel from the various rogues and barmen you come across. Most colonies have a bar where you play a fully functional (and nicely tuned) game of pool, play some dice games or even functioning slot and arcade machines. Credits can be staked on competitive games and you can even win unique parts for your ship from some of the characters you come across.

Bartenders can be sweet talked into giving you some intel on points of interest or bribed into giving up the location of high value ships for those with more piratical plans. Bounties can be taken and missions can also be picked up on the stations. There’s a huge amount to do out with the main story and I could easily see completionists spending upwards of 100 hours seeing out the story and all the side content.

All these missions and ways of earning credits wouldn’t be worth the effort if they didn’t feed back into the gameplay loop. Thankfully there’s a deep upgrade system which allows you to unlock better weapons, shields, power systems and armor for you ship. You can also buy new ships (at a hefty cost) which allow you to specialise more as a fighter or trader. Fighters offer more slots for weapons at the expense of reduced hold space, whilst traders are weaker but allow you to haul more cargo.

The game has a fully functioning economy with fluctuating prices on goods which can be traded across the planets. Those that take the times to do some trading can earn a fair bit of cash which can be reinvested back into your ship. The game also allows you to dabble in illicit goods. Planets with less stable Governments (or those listed as full scale Capitalists) will buy some of the more unsavoury goods you can find, such as transplant organs, counterfeit goods or illegal weapons.

The game includes patrolling police vessels which will uphold the law if they come across any illegal activity, but they also stop and search you from time to time, leading to some tense moments where you need to jetisson all your illegal cargo before searching space for it once they bail out. Budding smugglers can upgrade their ship with a stash to make it a bit easier to transport dodgy goods.

There’s a huge amount of depth to the trading and bartering and combined with a slick and fun combat system theres a lot of fun to be had.

Space Cowboy

The most striking thing about Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, believe it or not, is it’s soundtrack. The game includes over 24 hours of licensed music, which is used to great effect. Your ship includes a radio, which can be tuned to one of several radio stations, not unlike a Grand Theft Auto game. These include all the usual adverts and all the rest, which really help to build the universe. The music seems to be from smaller artists, as I hadn’t heard any of it before, but it includes a range of excellent music with a heavy focus on blues and desert rock. It all really fits the theme of the game well and manages to make you feel like a real space cowboy (or girl)!

The game also includes a classical station, which can lead to some beautiful moments as you fly through the beautiful expanse with the symphonies of Mozart or Beethoven adding an air of majesty.

The music really adds to the game and I felt the use of lesser known artists (at least in terms of the non-classical channels) helped give an otherworldly feel, as you’ve suddenly come across the alternate universe full of brilliant music.

Graphically, the game is stunning, with the interior of your ship lighting from the glow of nearby planets and enemies exploding in a glorious fireball that you sweep through after a tense dogfight. Character models in the planetside sections look great and the game runs very smoothly in handheld and docked. The game manages to look equally beautiful in either mode, which is a rare thing these days with some of the better looking Switch games.

Final Thoughts

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is an impressive game. That it comes from a fairly small indie studio is all the more impressive. The game has the polish and scope of a big budget blockbuster, save for a slight lack of variety and bombast in the types of missions. That aside, there is a huge amount to do and combat and trading will keep you engaged for a long time.

The game doesn’t include any multiplayer or online elements, but this does mean that you’re left with a distilled and pure single player experience which is full of depth and shows a great attention to detail.

If you’re looking for something in the same vein as Elite, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw should scratch that itch. This is the Han Solo sim you’ve been looking for, but the game allows a great degree of flexibility in how you play.

Pros

  • Space looks beautiful
  • Amazing soundtrack
  • Tense and satisfying combat

Cons

  • Missions can be a little repetitive

Verdict

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw offers an entire universe in the palm of your hands, with explosive space combat and intergalactic trading serving dozens of hours of fun gameplay.

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