Space Wreck is a post-apocalyptic retro RPG in space with an extreme focus on role-playing developed and published by Pahris Entertainment. The game was released out of Early Access for PC via Steam on October 10, 2023
Product Brand: Pahris Entertainment
Product Currency: USD
Product Price: $16.99
Product In-Stock: InStock
Nostalgia and CRPGs go hand in hand. In the last ten years, folks who’ve been yearning for 90’s style Computer Role Playing Games have been blessed with such gems as Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland, Pathfinder, Atom RPG, Colony Ship, Age of Decadence, Underrail, Disco Elysium, and more. All of these games are built on the foundations set by genre classics like Baldur’s Gate, Fallout, and Planescape: Torment, and for good reason. It doesn’t seem like the influx of retro RPGs will stop anytime soon and that’s completely fine by me. Pahris Entertainment’s Space Wreck is the newest kid on the retro CRPG block and is fresh off the boat from Steam Early Access. It aims to capture the magic that made its spiritual predecessor Fallout a fan favorite while delivering a unique role-playing experience in its own way. I’ve spent the last few weeks in Space Wreck making bad decisions, failing quests, exploiting its systems, breaking the game, making more bad decisions, and figuring out how to dispose of my poo-poo in its decrepit zero-G environments. People of the internet, I present to you, Space Wreck- a post-earth Role Playing Game.
Lost in Space
Merely seconds into the intro, Space Wreck dev’s love for Fallout becomes evident. It takes place in a 22nd-century post-apocalyptic setting where corporations and asteroid miners are fighting a war. The unlikely hero of the story is a newly appointed captain who had the misfortune of piloting a spaceship targetted by asteroid pirates. Your string of bad luck doesn’t end there. The fuel chip of your ship gets damaged. In classic Vault 13 fashion, your character draws the short straw and is sent into a nearby space wreck to scavenge for both fuel and a new fuel ship. Thus begins your journey into Space Wreck. Now, where have I seen all of this before?
Space Wreck is a short game, intentionally so. While a single playthrough can last anywhere between 5-10 hours, you’ll barely be scratching the surface of what the game has to offer. The game is designed to be played multiple times and rewards returning players with branching paths, alternate quest outcomes, and multiple endings. Depending on your playstyle, chances are that two playthroughs will be totally different, or at the very least, you’ll end up discovering a shitload of things you’ve missed out on before. Space Wreck is a game that puts the utmost priority on role-playing and experimentation. I’ll even go as far as to say that Space Wreck and Baldur’s Gate 3 are the two most reactive and dynamic games I’ve played this year (and I’ve played a LOT of games this year).
Now, this comes at a cost. Space Wreck puts immersion and player agency at the forefront. As such, I didn’t find the overall story particularly engaging or the characters you meet very interesting. It’s a very subjective thing and you might end up having a totally radical opinion. The writing is also not at the same level as genre classics and you’ll end up noticing plenty of pedestrian dialogue, grammatical errors, typos, and odd sentences that stick out like a generic localization job every now and then. The good news is that the side quests are more fun and are not all just the “collect 20 bear asses” kind. Most of the jokes are pretty funny as well (without going into Fallout 2 level of self-awareness). I can certainly look past the localization issues in a game made by less than 5 non-native English speakers.
When One Door Closes…
The role-playing is where Space Wreck truly shines. It has all the trappings of a classic CRPG such as informative character creation, tactical turn-based combat, skill checks, dice rolls, grid-based movement, and plenty of ways to approach situations. In fact, the first thing you’ll see upon starting a new game is a text saying that combat is 100% optional. From my experience, that stands true. You can approach each problem in Space Wreck in at least 5 ways. Want to be a smooth talker who can talk their way out of even the most hostile situation? How about a hacker who can control all the wandering robots? Why not stealthily sneak past everything using your innate ability to go unnoticed by others? If these don’t work, you can always take a bigass energy gun and ko commando on the remains of society.
The skills you take dictate your playstyle in Space Wreck. And it’s not like the illusion of choice you see a lot in games these days. Complementing the various playstyles is the surprising amount of interactivity you only see in ImSims. Players can use the environment to their advantage in and out of combat. Want to get inside a locked door and you can’t find the key? Why not pick the lock? Lack the necessary skill? You can probably find a conveniently placed “man-sized” vent nearby, provided that your character has a small frame of course. If talking doesn’t work, you can try shooting people in the face during conversations, kicking them into the void of space, or setting traps in their paths, or you can just remotely control a rusty robot and make it do your dirty work.
The sheer ways in which Space Wreck lets you approach situations is something other RPG devs should take notes on. During the first main quest to find fuel, it turns out that the fuel storage is guarded by several deadly robots and another scavenger crew already has the dibs. I was able to convince their leader to join forces and lockpicked the door to the cargo hold. But, instead of helping them fight the bots, I managed to sneak away while the two groups offed themselves. When the dust settled, I casually walked over, grabbed the fuel, and went on my merry way. That’s just one way to complete this quest. You can sneak by without ever meeting the scavengers and grab the fuel, or, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can basically steal their spaceship. These are just the tip of the asteroid (h3h3) when it comes to player agency in Space Wreck. The devs have claimed that a typical quest will have from 3 to 8 unique ways to complete it. While I haven’t verified these numbers for each quest in the game, I can confirm that there is in fact, more than one way to approach any given problem.
Now, while I loved messing around with the various systems and figuring out ways to break the game, I did find the combat to be quite generic. It’s certainly functional but can seem pretty primitive unless you go out of your way to get creative. There are also quite a number of bugs present in the game. I haven’t run into any game-breaking bugs like a lot of the people on Discord and Steam Forums, but did end up getting a handful of minor ones like the game not saving, NPCs getting stuck in terrain, items not working like they should, etc. Nothing a few patches can’t fix. I also would like to see some QoL additions like being able to see some meta info during skill checks, exact enemy HP, toggle item highlights, more keyboard commands, inventory sorting options, and the like.
Similar to its design philosophy, Space Wreck sports peculiar DOS-inspired visuals. A limited color palette, purposeful pixelation, and a unique retro aesthetic give the game a distinctive look, even compared to other retro-inspired CRPGs. It’s certainly not for everyone but I love it. One drawback to this visual style is that some interactable items become hard to spot at times and it’s easy to miss out on crucial items due to how cramped everything feels. The audio design is rather limited too but it’s more varied than a Spiderweb Software RPG. There is even some voice acting present here and there.
Space Wreck runs at a locked 144 fps on my main rig with an RTX 3070 and locked 60 fps on both my work laptop (with intel UHD graphics) and the Steam Deck. Speaking of Steam Deck, the game scales surprisingly well on it thanks to the availability of various zoom levels and UI scaling options.
Space Wreck is a retro RPG made by people who clearly know what they’re doing. If you can look past the budgetary constraints, Space Wreck will prove to be an incredibly immersive experience that rewards role-playing and experimentation. It’s a faithful love letter to the original Fallout and simultaneously manages to stand on its own two legs. A must-buy at full price if you love CRPGs. The amount of sheer replayability present is the cream of the crop.
Space WreckSpace Wreck
- Plenty of role-playing options
- Multiple ways to approach a given situation
- Highly replayable
- Localization is not the best
- Lacking QoL features
- Some bugs still present