Let’s take just a moment to appreciate the horrendous dad joke which is my review title. Hopefully, you are finding the not so hidden puns in my reviews as amusing as I do, and if you don’t then this review is probably not something you want in your reading orbit (oh yeah baby, first paragraph). The challenge with Space Pioneer (Free) by Vivid Games is going to be not taking up too much space (pewpew) with bad puns. Don’t think for one second I’m cracking awful jokes because there is something wrong with the game. Nothing could be further from the truth, it is quite honestly brilliant. A top down shooter where you travel through space colonizing hostile galaxies. You are given main objectives as well as bonus goals to achieve in your missions. As you move from world to world you find yourself doing everything from collecting crystals or data files, to shooting enemies and destroying your adversary’s buildings.
It’s got a kind of Star Wars meets Star Trek feel; you play a bounty hunter, with a robot companion who beams down onto the planet, finishes their mission, and then beams off the world again. When you finish your first list of assignments on a planet, another related quest often pops up. For instance, you may need to find fuel and a ship battery, and after you succeed you are told to find and repair the ship. Under the main missions is another list, this is your bonus tasks to help you get extra coins and crystals. The money is used to buy skill and equipment upgrades while the crystals are needed to build and upgrade your space station. Even though it is a freemium game with in-app purchases, the coins and crystals seem to be easily attainable and you get pretty good loot after each mission. There are free loot crates to collect on timers and occasionally free gems and coins to collect as well. Your in-app purchases can be for better equipment (why bother when you can upgrade for free?) or gems to help instantly build things (why bother when with patience they build over time?).
Involuntary ads are turned off with any purchase, so there is a little bit of incentive there. You can also choose to watch videos to double rewards and get free gems; if you watch a few videos I am sure your gems will start adding (hehe) up. You can also choose to watch videos to receive double coins, bonus chests and revive your avatar if you die. Personally, I am a patient person and having to wait for buildings to finish, save up resources, or restart a level because I died doesn’t bother me. I will probably make a small purchase though, just so I can fly through ad free space. Vivid Games assures players that alongside an endless universe with countless galaxies to conquer, Space Pioneer has infinite missions with new objectives and enemies every time you play. There are mini boss fights as you chase Xeldar, the ultra-boss across the universe. The planets have a variety of terrains and the enemies you encounter on each planet differ depending on the environment.
The touch controls are some of the easiest I have used, and the first I have come across to not cause any issues with the iPhone X’s swipe functionality. Your left thumb moves a circle which acts like a joystick, while your right thumb holds down buttons to shoot, heal, build a turret, or throw a grenade. You may need to be a rocket scientist in order to get to outer space, but you sure don’t need to be one to control your little bounty hunter. The graphics are pretty sweet and have a Metroid vibe, taking me back to the days of my Nintendo DS. The boss fights are not too hard, I find the Dark Souls (two references in back to back reviews, could it be my all time favorite game just got remastered?) approach works well. Circle continuously in an anti-clock wise direction to avoid all the moving orbs and attacks. With this tactic I find it easy to take little to no damage while firing almost continuously on the boss.
You can’t just run through the stages with guns blazing non-stop, as your weapon will overheat, and the cool down period could see you without firepower in a crucial moment. You also can not just build an army of turrets and stand back, as there is a countdown in seconds until you can build a new one. Health is not a quick refill like many games, it counts in seconds with a gradual healing effect, it’s best not to leave it till the last second. Space Pioneer already offers great replayability with different missions each time you load up a stage. Nevertheless, Vivid Games made it even more fun to open their app every day by including fun events to give you more loot and rewards. At the moment I am enjoying fighting the hordes; it’s three waves of creatures with a particularly hard one towards the end. There is a reward for each wave, so beat all three and you get three rewards.
Why should you download this one? There is absolutely nothing to lose by having a look. It’s fast moving, never boring, and the top down view works well on a smaller screen. An impressively polished game, with easy to use controls and unproblematic graphics. If you are looking for a touch control game which will not confuse the iPhone X, this is the one. The game is easy to understand and plays like a dream on your mobile. Be warned though, it will suck the time out of your day. Perhaps not the best game to break out on your lunch hour, but by all means the game to call on when it’s your day off and there is nothing good on TV. Space Pioneer feels like it should be a PC or console game, however, the touch controls serve as such an integral part of what makes it a good game, keyboards or controllers could very well ruin something magnificent.