Tour The Cosmos, But Watch Out For Nebulae…
HIGH A vast, interesting galaxy to explore.
LOW Crisscrossing that same galaxy over and over again to build up resources.
WTF Why is Kent the robot’s head on sideways?
Salvager. Bounty Hunter. Captain for hire. John Falcon has done it all, but now he may be in over his head. His shiny, new-ish boat has been confiscated by the cops, there’s a corpse in the cargo bay, and lots of folks suddenly want him dead. The crummy space taxi he’s saddled with has no weapons, and can’t even leave the local star system until he buys some upgrades.
Like its protagonist, 3030 Deathwar Redux – A Space Odyssey is rough around the edges, but its undeniable charm and varied gameplay options keep entertaining even when the story falters and the missions begin to blend together.
Redux sends Falcon on a journey across the galaxy in an attempt to make sense of why he’s so important to so many shadowy groups while also trying to make enough cash to purchase bigger and better ships. Along the way he takes on a variety of odd jobs ranging from delivery guy to pirate eradicator — anything to keep his boat fueled up. He needs to make sure his ship is in top condition and armed to the teeth, as he frequently meets a wide variety of humans and aliens waiting to blast him into component molecules.
Gameplay is broken up into three distinct segments. Players spend most of their time piloting Falcon’s ship from a top-down view. Using the mouse to turn the ship and fire weapons while activating afterburners, ECM, communications, and faster than light travel (known here as Splitting) with the keyboard may be the most effective method of piloting, but the numerous commands required for navigation and combat coupled with somewhat less-than-ideal key placement (when not using mouse-only mode or a gamepad) leads to cramped wrists.
Fortunately, during salvage operations, 3030 Deathwar Redux handles in a more standard manner. In this side-scrolling mode, WASD moves Falcon around the rotted-out husks of derelict craft while the mouse activates a weapon and operates a scanner which helps track down loot, including crew members who can be brought back for cash payouts.
While on board space stations and on planetary surfaces, Deathwar changes to an adventure game where the keyboard moves Falcon around and the mouse is used to manipulate job searches, commodity trading, ship purchase/upgrade menus, and select options from dialogue trees.
Jobs don’t vary much from station to station or system to system, so figuring out which ones maximize profits is a must. For example, ferrying people from station to station is a low-risk, low reward paycheck that doesn’t take a lot of time. Larger jobs, like hauling cargo containers to distant systems aren’t dangerous, but they are time consuming. A “haggling” option is a nice pickup which can net extra credits. Overall this is fine, but the biggest issue with the job system is that the game can’t be saved while jobs (even story-based ones) are pending.
Ultimately, progression is slow, the best weapons and upgrades only unlock at certain points in the narrative, and many are prohibitively expensive. Of course, it’s more than possible to finish the main questline without obtaining the best ships and gear, but late-game battles become almost luck-based for the ill-equipped.
To maximize enjoyment of 3030 Deathwar Redux, it’s best to load up on jobs heading in the same general direction as Falcon’s story-based missions to prevent unnecessary travel back and forth. While visiting stations and talking to the varied clientele is enjoyable the first few times, only the important characters have interesting things to say (and there is some genuinely amusing dialogue, though it’s peppered with too much pointless profanity) but the randomized dialogue from non-essential NPCs begins to get repetitive quickly.
3030 Deathwar Redux’s story isn’t particularly memorable — it tells a simple story involving a humorous prophecy with a great payoff at the end, although there is one shocking event midway through. Plot elements can be missed completely while sprinting from location to location, but fortunately, the game continues as if they were witnessed anyway, and the narrative gets by on the charm of its lead and the over-the-top comic evil of the villains. Falcon’s companions are primarily one-note ancillary characters designed to move the story along or provide occasional zingers, but Kent, the robotic co-pilot is fleshed out (so to speak) better than the rest, reminiscent of a cross between HK-47 and Crow T. Robot.
While the action can be lackluster and story events can come out of left field, there’s just something about 3030 Deathwar Redux – A Space Odyssey that triggers that “just one more mission” feeling while exuding an effortless charm which often makes up for its flaws.
[Review Update, December 2018]
On November 5, Bird in Sky and Crunchy Leaf Games added the massive “Latinum Shipyards” update to 3030 Deathwar: A Space Odyssey, and while it doesn’t make it a new game, it offers a surprising number of quality-of-life improvements, plenty of new toys to blow stuff up with, and, impressively, some improved difficulty and accessibility features.
First, buying a ship from the trade screen is a more interesting experience this time around. Players have the ability to test drive their boats to experience the turn radius, and can now virtually kick the tires.
A host of new ships have been added, so even at the earliest stages of the game there are plenty more choices, from sleek shuttles designed to whisk a few passengers from place to place quickly, to larger freighters for those looking to score early and often on cargo runs and salvage ops.
I personally liked having access to more powerful gunships early on, which had the happy side effect of letting me play with the new weapons and test out the new combat options. There are now beam weapons, flak cannons, and bombs designed to ruin an opponent’s day, which is important because the new difficulty settings made my days much more difficult as well.
Right from the main menu, it’s possible to alter the number of random encounters from ‘never’ to ‘every time I get out into the black’. The new AI can be punishing, as well. They came after me with much larger ships and tricky new moves like using limited warps to dodge and weave while trying to get me in their sights. Combat can still feel a bit haphazard though — it’s still tough to get a bead on enemies, but the new options mean every fight can be a challenge, if desired.
I like that new players will have an easier time making money right from the start as missions seem to pay better, and space trash is larger and more plentiful, so clearing it is an easy source of steady income. The camera is slightly zoomed, which lets players take in more detail, which is great because this universe is lovely. The addition of even more achievements and extra outfits gives completionists more reason to scour the galaxy while looking for trouble.
I wanted to give special mention to the ability to resize in-game text from the main menu. It’s a small improvement, but a very important one for us here, and it’s a credit to the devs that they made this an option for those in the community who need it.
With these new updates, 3030 Deathwar: A Space Odyssey has become a must-play game. What it may lack in story is more than made up for in action and options.
— Jeff Ortloff
Disclosures: This game is developed by Bird in Sky and published by Crunchy Leaf Games. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via the publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 14 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: There is no official ESRB rating for this game. However, the game contains Violence, occasional Strong Language as well as Use of Alcohol. Players destroy spaceships with laser weapons and missiles, causing bodies to be ejected from wreckage. Players fire guns at humanoid creatures, causing dismemberment and blood loss. The language is sometimes severe; the words “sh*t” and “f*ck” appear in dialogue. Dead human bodies are recovered and sold as salvage. Non-humanoid alien creatures are shot with rockets, leaving behind bloody bodies. The game contains some suggestive material such as partially exposed buttocks. Players can request alcoholic beverages as dialogue choices.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Game dialogue is always text-based, with only rare voiced space station messages (not directly tied to plot or gameplay) missing subtitles. Audio cues have visual components such as weapon/explosion animations. The game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. A mouse-only mode has been included as an alternative to mouse and keyboard.