Developed by Snowhound games and Published by 1C Entertainment Deep Sky Derelicts is a dystopian space-themed tactical turn-based RPG. You must take your team of 3 scavengers and search through derelict ships and space stations in search of scraps, information and better tools. With a promise to become citizens if you deliver the mothership to the sub-governor, you must set out on your scavenger hunt in increasingly difficult derelicts to find information about the mothership.
You start in the sub-governor’s office as a stateless scavenger and he offers you a deal you can’t refuse in the shape of full citizenship so you can leave the scavenger life behind. But, to do so you need to find out more about the mothership. The aristocrats have heard about some superior technology that exists on the mothership and are offering a very lucrative deal to anyone who can locate and bring it back. Your team has a reputation of being capable in combat and are skilled in scavenging derelicts. The sub-governor feeds you information on some basic derelicts that you need to search through to find its navigation information to help you get closer to the mothership. However, the derelicts get tougher with the more information you find and so you need to level up your skills and use the best equipment and items to get you through it.
The visuals are gritty hand-drawn sketches which suit the game’s roguelike style, and the eerie music accompanies the game well in making you feel like you are searching decrepit old ships for loot and information. DSD plays out in 2 different ways. You have your navigation section where you see a partially visible map of the derelict ship that you are in. This isn’t very graphically detailed but serves a purpose to build up the suspense of what treasures or enemies are hidden out of view. The map is laid out in a grid formation and each movement of a square costs energy, which you need to stay alive. Other actions, including scanning, scavenging and combat also use this energy. When you run low on energy you need to head back to the exit point to be ferried back to the base. There are items and upgrades to help you maintain your energy to be able to search derelicts a bit more before having to head back to base to recharge.
The navigation section also has a lot of the tactical challenges of the game. You scan the map to search the area around you to look out for enemies, loot, mission points, blockages and room conditions. These room conditions can have an impact on your health, energy or in combat so you must be wary about where you fight with the enemies within the derelicts.
The combat is the other main section of the game and this blends together turn-based combat with a card-based battle game. Your 3 scavengers must take on a large variety of enemies which are all drawn in the same gritty style and range from alien life forms, fellow scavengers. space pirates and androids. The cards each of your characters must use are based on their profession and equipment. A medic will contain more health and status boosting cares, while a fighting class will contain more attack based cards. An inventor will contain a lot of tech-based cards to enhance your team and a leader type job will contain mental based cards to influence the flow of battle. Every being on the battlefield has a turn each round, but the order is decided by who has the higher initiative. Once everyone has had their turn the next round begins, and you draw more cards at the cost of energy and repeat the process until either you or the enemy are defeated. You can spend more energy to draw more cards or to use a field move in a desperate attempt to gain an edge or turn the battle around.
Every enemy you defeat usually offers up a selection of loot in the form of equipment, sellable junk, energy canisters or status boosting items. For fans of looting games, there is plenty to be found here and you tend to fill up your inventory slots pretty quickly. But you need the loot for various reasons, such as refilling your energy bank, buying or upgrading your gear, healing or reviving your team, buying implants or crafting new equipment. This all costs money and so you need to grab and sell as much loot as you can to improve your team’s chances of surviving the tougher derelicts.
Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition may not be a graphical masterpiece but it more than makes up for it in tactical gameplay. I found myself quite addicted to the tactical challenges of the maps and in the combat. The difficulty starts of quite tough, but it gradually becomes easier as you buy the upgrades and craft your equipment. DSD is sufficiently long enough to make it good value and you can tackle the game using different job classes for longevity.