Hardspace Shipbreaker: dismantling spaceships and also capitalism


Video Games


HARDSPACE: SHIPBREAKER came out today and has been wracking up great reviews. It's basically a ship-disassembly game. You play an engineer working and living in a shipyard orbiting Earth. Your job is to break apart derelict spacecraft and making sure their various parts get recycled properly. This starts off being easy and then gets harder, as you start receiving ships that are still partially-pressurised, or have explosive oxygen cylinders on board or electrical hazards.

You're working for a company, but because the company has paid for your space habitat, all your food, water, power, clothes and air, you start the game in debt to them, to the tune of 1.2 billion credits (!). As you dismantle ships you use up oxygen and fuel, but you have to buy more supplies of them from the company. So you have to keep your income above your expenses. The starting ships do a good job of this, with you clearing 1.5-2 million on each one, but obviously that's still going to take forever to pay off the debt. You can take on bigger ships which yield way more money, but you need to buy more specialised equipment to take them apart. There's this constant tension between how much you pay out to make your life easier and more efficient, and just trying to make as much profit as possible to bring down your debt and go home. There's also a side-line in that as you work you gain experience, and at a certain point you become a fully certified shipbreaker with the possibility of going solo.

There is a storyline, which kicks in when other workers manage to contact you and let you know they're thinking of forming a union. The company does not take this too kindly and the game puts you in the place of having to decide about joining forces with your fellow workers or knuckling down and trying to get your debt cleared ASAP.

I'm a couple of hours into the game so far and it's a very polished, enjoyable experience so far with lots of fun features to the game (a very nice 3D physics model in particular).

The developers, Blackbird Interactive, are the people behind the HOMEWORLD series of space-RTS games. They're also working on HOMEWORLD 3, due out later this year. HARDSPACE started as a gamejam project which transformed into a full-scale game. Amusingly, they used the title because it was the original working title of their RTS DESERTS OF KHARAK before they regained the HOMEWORLD IP, so it was pre-trademarked and they didn't have to pay again to register a new name.

The game is available now on PC via Steam. Console versions are on their way for later this year.

Liberty's Edge

I was just looking at this on steam last night before bed, it looks fantastically satisfying.

If I had a proper gaming PC that could handle the game I'd have bought it straight away I think.

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