Deep Space Rush Review

For my inaugural review I was given the procedurally generated Deep Space Rush, developed by BUG-Studio and published by Ratalaika Games. The premise of the game is saving a space station from a viral contamination and involves guiding a pixelated spaceman through endless zones, collecting coins, avoiding monsters, and collecting weapons. The music was an enjoyable and synthesised chip-tune that strummed out an old-school charm.

Deep Space Rush is a rogue-lite, in that when you die, you can spend the collected coins in the shop for your next run. Items for purchase include health upgrades, gun upgrades, and coin upgrades. My first death came about in a manner that I initially thought was a fluke. I had the default weapon equipped, a single shot rifle, and learned early that each attacker took several shots to put down.

A red bouncy-guy came out from the left side of the screen so I started blasting him. I was able to kill him about midway through the screen. The bouncy-guy fell and his carcass immediately exploded, taking out a huge chunk of the floor. The resulting gap was too large for my avatar to leap across, and more so, each time a zone is completed, a wall drops down from the ceiling behind you, closing off the return route.

I practiced jumping for a while, timing the double-jump on the unexploded portion of the floor in an attempt to maybe perform a perfect leap across the gap, but quickly realized that no matter what I was going to have to jump into the gap and suicide.

While trying to puzzle out jumping the gap, I was thinking that it made zero sense for the developer to allow situations in the game which prevent forward progress, which occur through no fault of the player. Without knowing bouncy-guys explode when they die, it just seemed unfair to me. Then I had an epiphany: I definitely knew now, and maybe that was the point.

With that lesson learned, I bravely jumped into the void and was rewarded with 72 coins, enough to buy one health upgrade and a gun with a plus sign next to it. Considering that I only collected three coins in that first run, I considered it to be a pretty generous death bonus. It was a little confusing that none of the purchases besides the obvious health upgrade made sense, especially after buying a gun upgrade only to start the next round with the same single shot starter gun.

The upgrade finally made sense when I found the gun I upgraded on the ground and was able to pick it up and use it. It was much better than the gun I started with, though I was again disappointed when the next gun I ran over immediately replaced it. The new gun worked differently. It had a lightening-type effect. Other guns had abilities like bullets that ricocheted, granted invulnerability, and fired laser beams. Before long I died again, and as before, was amply rewarded with many times the number of coins that I was able to collect before dying. I also earned my first achievement, which was dying to a monster.

On subsequent playthroughs, I eventually learned the mechanics of the game. Through trial-and-error, I discovered which situations each gun what best suited for, what threats each monster presented, and best of all, that death wasn’t a punishment. In fact, dying could probably be exploited to get enough coins for complete upgrades of everything in the store.

Deep Space Rush isn’t an involved game. Beyond learning what each gun or different color coin upgrade did, there really isn’t anything more to learn. There aren’t any story elements at all or any varying biomes or enemy types beyond the same few basic ones. The only reason I found to play beyond a casual level was to collect the achievements. Being a Ratalaika published game, the achievements were frequent and primarily consisted of killing a certain number of monsters or clearing a certain number of zones. Within half an hour or so, I had collected all 16 of the achievements and had no motivation to continue.

When I finished Deep Space Rush, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. Some of the elements were okay, like the small-ish sense of progression and the casual nature of it, but those factors were negated by a game that felt sort of churned out and unpolished. For example, some of the achievements have misspellings, which could be attributed to the fact that the developers are Russian. Not a huge factor, I just had to realize that I was buying a ‘heart’ and not a ‘hear’. Also, the guns could have been labelled, at least in the shop, so that when they showed up in the game you could better decide whether to pick one up or avoid it.

Conclusion

Deep Space Rush is a short game with some enjoyable, if not deep gameplay and is fine for its budget title release. The developers didn’t attempt to make a masterpiece and so they don’t ask for a lot of your money. Also, the publishers have a reputation for easy gamerscore and completions, and if that’s a motivator then the game doesn’t disappoint. Expect to enjoy the game for an hour or so before the lack of progression stifles the desire to keep playing.

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • The procedurally-generated pixel graphics are nice to look at
  • After a small learning curve, you’ve already mastered all there is to know without having to employ anything but the most basic of strategies
  • For achievement hunters, it’s a guaranteed 1000g for a small cost
Bad
  • Although each has a unique attack enemy variety is lacking
  • The weapons are interesting in the variety of effect each has, but it’s hard to tell what each does before picking it up and using it
  • Lacks the polish expected of a game that has passed Xbox’s game certification
5.8
Average
Gameplay - 6
Graphics - 6
Audio - 7
Longevity - 4
Written by
I was gaming way before it was cool or accepted, when games were sold in ziplock bags and gaming clues required a letter and a SASE to the actual developer. I’m not saying that like it’s a credential or an odd badge of honor, but as a statement that video games can be fun and engaging independent of graphics, the number of player choices allowed, or game mechanics. I felt the same sense of joy and exhilaration with text-based games of yore as I do playing the most advanced games of today.

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