Space Punks has style to spare in its weapon and character designs, but this Early Access action RPG from Flying Wild Hog fails to make an impact.
It’s clear from the onset that Space Punks takes great inspiration from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Although they don’t have a talking plant-like creature just yet, the first four characters of this new online action RPG cover all the bases of Star-Lord’s band of misfits. Space Punks is a live service game with a Borderlands-style aesthetic. The addition of multiplayer and ongoing content drops could bring a lot to Space Punks in the long run, but this initial Early Access offering from developer Flying Wild Hog leaves much to be desired.
Space Punks tries to be all about style. It has a variety of loud and unique weapons, characters that spout catchphrases whenever possible, and enemies that die amid comic-book-style “THWAPP”s and “WHACK”s. A lot of that style doubles as a cover for the monotony of combat, a loop that includes smashing apart groups of five to six robots every few seconds and finishing off rote mission objectives. Considering how repeatable Space Punks’ missions tend to be, it’s likely that players will be adjusting volume settings to reduce character dialog sooner rather than later.
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Outside of boss fights, combat never feels overwhelming, even when playing alone. A good melee swing can get anyone out of trouble, and shields recharge fast enough to make retreating a worthwhile strategy. Despite this, it’s not recommended to actually try to play Space Punks alone, because of some punishing decisions surrounding respawns. Dying once without a teammate to help out means restarting the entire mission and doing all of the busywork objectives over again. After scouring an entire map and fighting endless enemies for twenty minutes to find specific batteries or charge a satellite, a cheap death to a big bad and a game over screen makes it easy to put the controller down and play something else.
Even with some help from teammates, the missions here are adequate at best, which is a shame considering the design’s finer touches. Some of the weapons, like a charged laser that looks straight out of the recent Ghostbusters video game, are rather fun to use. Things also get better once characters unlock their abilities, but that takes significantly more time than expected. When they’re all active, teaming up with different characters changes them up via a Synergy mechanic. This makes choosing characters more than an aesthetic decision and should make things more interesting when the roster expands beyond the initial selection.
Just as Space Punks only offers minor surprises with its gameplay, the live service aspect is also pretty straightforward. There’s a premium shop that will eventually sell cosmetic items like pets, flashy spawning animations, and character skins, with a multitude of currencies to grind for as well. There’s also a premium battle pass for even more bonus items, and those who buy in during Early Access get the first season free of charge.
The real question about Space Punks is whether it’s worth the investment in this early state. With similar games like Magic: Legends fizzling out while still in beta, it’s a big question whether any new entry in this genre can find a sustainable player base. From the forgettable combat to the live service hooks, it’s not hard to find reasons to wait for Space Punks to expand before diving in. There are some charming aspects to the world and its inhabitants, but it can’t overcome how run of the mill the act of playing this game is. There is potential here, but it feels like Space Punks opened the airlock way too early.
Space Punks will launch into Early Access exclusively on the Epic Games Store on July 14. Screen Rant was provided a PC code for the purposes of this preview.
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