I don’t know where to start with Blackbird Interactive’s latest game; Hardspace: Shipbreaker. It’s so unlike any other game I’ve played that it’s difficult to draw comparisons to help me contextualise it for you. Here’s the blurb on Steam “Equipped with cutting-edge salvaging tech, carve & slice spaceships to recover valuable materials. Upgrade your gear to take on more lucrative contracts and pay your billion credits debt to LYNX Corp!”. So far, so Sci-Fi but there’s a little more to it than that. A future sci-fi world where humanity has colonised the solar system and Earth is a backwater. To escape you sign up as a shipbreaker, or “Cutter”, and land yourself in a massive debt hole you’ve got to salvage your way out of. You can be cloned so even death isn’t an option to escape… instead they simply charge you for the costs involved in bringing the new you back to life. Sometimes a game comes along that carves itself a niche that you didn’t know you wanted filled. Hardspace: Shipbreaker is such a game. Put simply, it’s brilliant.
At the start of your 15 minute shift, you pick a ship to get to work on and load into the bay. By navigating through the zero gravity environment, using the tools at your disposal, you slice the valuable bits off the ship and recover them by sending them to the right slot depending on what it is. There’s three colour coded options – Furnace, Processor & Barge – with each item telling you on the HUD where it’s to go.. The first thing you’ll notice is that moving around in zero-g is not as easy as you’d think. The controls are well thought out, they work really well but the whole thing takes some getting used to. It’s especially weird having to brake to stop because if you just let go of the input, like you normally would, you just continue on… there’s no gravity to stop you. Everything is physics based, your character, each piece of the ship, all of it has mass, all of it can be moved. The more mass, the more difficult it is to move so you need to get creative with slicing it up and using the tools at your disposal. There’s lots to consider and a fairly good chance that, if you aren’t careful, you’ll die in a big explosion or get konked on the head so hard your spacesuit will depressurise.
With the game being in Early Access on Steam there’s a lot more content to come, Blackbird Interactive have a road map for updates for the next year leading up to its official release. What’s important, for now, is that the foundation is there. The game runs well, the tools are interesting, the traversal is fun (once you get used to it) and the bite-size nature of the shift system really helps propel things along. The ships will get more complex, more dangerous and, let’s be honest, more fun as time goes along which will be exciting when those updates arrive in the coming months. That’s why I’m launching Salvage Saturday! Each week I’ll show you a single shift worth’s of salvage work – that’s 15 minutes – so you can see how I and the game progress. Let me know in the YouTube comments what you like about the video and the game, make suggestions for future videos and help me make better content for you! Subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss out or keep your eyes peeled to our socials for when it goes live. The first video is linked below.