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Game Info:

Hyperspace Delivery Service
Developed By: Zotnip
Published By: Zotnip
Released: June 5, 2019
Available On: Windows (Steam)
Genre: Strategy Simulation
ESRB Rating: None specified
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $9.99

First, I'd like to thank Zotnip for the review key for this review.

In the olden days of gaming, graphics were simpler, the sound was less refined, and storage space for better assets was limited, so game developers had to compensate by making the most of the limited assets and make a good game out of them much more than is usually needed today. Hyperspace Delivery Service is intended as a throwback to these days, and while it's developer went with the olden day look and feel, they have modern day tools (the Unity Engine) at their disposal to deliver the same classic gameplay with hopefully the same value despite the early '90 adventure game aesthetic.

In Hyperspace Delivery Service, you are a delivery ship captain in a star system once administrated by a galactic trading conglomerate. But, since they went belly up trade among the stars has gotten more dangerous and now they can't ensure safe and orderly passage between planetary ports anymore. You still have to deliver goods and services even without them, and you have to do it within your stated contracted delivery date or, in the worst case, die in the attempt.

The gameplay is divided into a space travel section, combat sections, and a meta-game devoted towards making sure you will be able to get to the final port of call where your delivery must occur before your contract date is reached. The space travel section is remarkably similar to the classic educational game "The Oregon Trail", and has many of the same elements. You have a deadline you must meet before you lose the game, you have various places you stop at to rest and resupply before you resume your journey, and there are various random events that can occur along your route both good and bad for the outcome of your journey.

Hyperspace Delivery Service
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good concept and excellent retraux art and sounds
Weak Points: Horrible game balance and some wonky controls
Moral Warnings: Mild violence against robots and spaceships

The combat sections are split between space combat and ground combat. The space combat sections take place on a heads-up display on your ship bridge where you must shoot missiles and lasers at enemy ships until they are all destroyed while trying not to let them blow up yours. For those who played the NES "Star Trek: The Next Generation" game, this aspect of gameplay is very similar, as the combat takes place featuring a heads-up display on your bridge in much the same fashion. The ground combat takes place in an abbreviated Doom-like first-person shooter mode where you must shoot hostile robots in order to rescue crew members or otherwise complete ground-based objectives.

The meta-game is what ties it all together. Much like "The Oregon Trail", you are issued a set amount of credits to purchase supplies with, with limited chances to trade and acquire more to keep yourself supplied until you reach the end of the game. Random events may either provide bonus resources or cost you more than you usually spend in food and fuel, and on harder difficulties careful planning a lot save reloading between ports (where saves are automatically made) will be essential to ensure you reach your destination. You also have to keep your ship and its crew in good health, with penalties for neglecting and/or overworking both, though increasing ship speed or crew workload can make the game easier at times, so it's a delicate balancing act that requires your periodic attention, particularly at space stations in-between planets you visit.

The graphics are deliberately done in the same style as early nineties Sierra Online adventure games, Space Quest in particular, though more the older releases as opposed to the VGA remake versions. This is both good and bad, as the game looks authentically retro, but the graphics are occasionally super jaggy and overly bright at times like EGA graphics often were in the time when MS-DOS was common. Those issues aside, this game has a charming, quirky Star Trek style to it, with your ship and the bridge especially being much like their inspirations.

Sounds are mostly confined to MIDI style noises for your ship and sound effects, again for the retro feel, and there is an option to shut off the blips and beeps if they annoy you. The game itself is quite stable, and the only thing that might annoy people is how the mouse is captured by the game window, forcing an ALT + TAB to free it up for switching to another window, especially in windowed mode. Some bugs have been found since the writing of this review, but the developer has been very vigilant in fixing them and releasing patched updates.

Hyperspace Delivery Service
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 93%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Controls, however, are mostly good with some annoying issues. Most menus are easily navigated and feature plenty of helpful hints. However, the game will assume heavy usage of the keyboard even though most things will usually be done via the mouse, and this can get confusing as the looking controls in combat sections are inverted with the keyboard while the reverse with the mouse, making switching between the two tedious. Combat sections also suffer from some aiming issues and some non-intuitive control scheme ideas, with aiming non-homing weapons like lasers somewhat irritating as a result.

The worst problem, however, is the game balance. Even on Easy, the game can be punishing; the main problem being bad random events are far more common than good ones, and good events often have paltry rewards. Bad events often do a lot of damage that will eat through resources, and side missions and random events that make up the difference are few and far between. Worse, it's expensive in money and time to keep your crew healthy, and resting periods recover a mere fraction of crew health per rest break, and multiple breaks can eat up valuable game days.

On the moral side, this game is actually pretty well off in that regard.

Violence is always confined to robots and the spaceships, there is no blood or gore. The language is pretty clean as well; the game would be perfectly suitable for most young children on those grounds alone, and the dialogue is devoid of offensive material. Sexual content is absent, and the game has no occult or supernatural themes whatsoever.

On the ethical side of things, despite the breakdown in law and order in the backstory, you are generally bound towards not disturbing the peace and are contractually bound to engage in aboveboard trade. There are times when you can elect not to detain possible fugitives to be turned over to whatever semblance of law enforcement you encounter or refuse to assist ships that may be in danger. However, this can often be very risky and quite often a trap, so it would not be unethical to refrain, as you may find capturing the fugitive simply leads to inviting worse consequences or assisting the stranded ship just invites a pirate ambush.

Aside from the game balance and control issues, which need further polish, Hyperspace Delivery Service is otherwise a quite fun throwback to the edutainment games of the early '90s and with a sci-fi twist, and with some refinement of the rougher edges, would make a worthy modern day Oregon Trail successor in space.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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