Deep Sky Derelicts is a roguelike turn-based RPG with a unique card-based battle mechanic. Set in a grim dystopian future, human civilisation has been divided into two different categories: the ‘stateless’ and the ‘privileged’. The outcasts are forced to live off scraps from derelict alien stations and ships whilst the privileged get to live on hospitable planets.
In Deep Sky Derelicts, you develop and control a squad of three mercenaries who must explore derelict ships in search of information about the fabled ‘Mothership’ in order to gain citizenship on a friendly planet. While searching the derelicts for loot and clues, you will come across friendly inhabitants and traders, but more often, enemies. So you must do battle, gain experience, loot dead bodies, resupply and upgrade once back at your base. Deep Sky Derelicts exited Early Access on September 26th, 2018 and is now available for PC, PS4, X-Box One, and the Nintendo Switch!
Choose Your Character!
Upon startup, you must first create your crew. You are given multiple classes to choose from such as the miner, inventor, tracker, bruiser, technician, medic, leader and scrapper, all of which have various points in the five stats: weaponry, tech, medical, scavenging and mental. In addition, you will have to select a personality for your characters: crafty, neurotic, skittish, aggressive and charismatic. With all of these options available, you can create a wide variety of squads that give the game excellent replay value, as you can create completely different crews with each playthrough.
After you have settled on your crew, you will have to choose between the two different difficulty modes. Normal Mode is where saving and reloading is allowed if your crew falls in battle. However, if you’re looking for more of a challenge you can try Hardcore Mode, where permadeath is enabled. If your crew dies, it’s game over! After you have settled on your crew and difficulty mode, Deep Sky Derelicts begins with an excellent in-depth tutorial and codex to make sure you get up to speed with the gameplay!
Card-Based Combat and Grid-Based Exploration
Now, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but Deep Sky Derelicts has a unique comic book style. This makes combat in particular delightful to look at, as the crisp detailed retro-futuristic aesthetic pleases the eyes. Now Deep Sky Derelicts is a turn-based RPG with a unique card-based combat system. At the beginning of combat, each character draws a starting hand of 3 cards. At the start of their turn, characters draw 1 card and get to play 1 card or perform one action.
If you pass your turn without playing, a card gives you the opportunity to play two cards on the following turn. The turn order is determined by the initiative (or speed) of the characters. Now, I really enjoyed the card-based combat system. It gives your characters a fantastic amount of variety and diversity. Your attacks are ever-changing as you find new weapons and modifications. This is so much more engaging than just spamming the same 3 or 4 attacks over and over again. Normally, card-based games can get super complicated and overwhelming, but Deep Sky Derelicts keeps things straightforward and fun!
In addition, your characters have a shield and health bar. Your shields will regenerate after each battle, but damage to your health is permanent will need to be treated. I must say I really like the shield system; it gives your characters a good survival method whilst also avoiding the problem of taking cheap damage in battle and constantly needing to heal every few minutes. This makes random encounters and exploration more appealing. If a character falls in combat, they will need to be revived back in medical. (Unless you are playing on Hardcore mode where perma-death is enabled) One thing I didn’t like in combat is the lack of a default attack option. If you don’t have a card that attacks the enemy, you’re stuck and will have to take unnecessary damage until you draw an attack card.
While combat is absolutely a positive, exploration is a little convoluted and confusing. The derelicts work on a square tile-based system where you must step into the unknown. (You can see an example of this practice in action in the video below) To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of this system. I found it confusing and was unsure where to go next in my travels. Along the way, you can pick up various side quests and contracts to earn more credits and loot for your crew. When exploring, you have ‘energy’, and this is basically your movement currency. Every step and action costs ‘energy’ which will need to be refilled back at base or purchased at stores. This system forces you to return home and not venture too far or explore an entire planet in one go. Whilst exploring the derelict spaceships, you might come across mini-settlements that you can try to overcome by fighting multiple waves of enemies for a large portion of loot at the end!
Space Stations And More!
During your adventures and looting, you earn ‘CC’ which is the currency for the game, which you use to purchase weapons, upgrades, medical assistance and more! When you have earned your valuable ‘CC’, you head back to home base where you can upgrade your characters, collect contracts, hire mercenaries and more!
In terms of nitpicks, I would say that the game can feel a little flat at times, lacking in sound effects and moments of oomph such as when you hand in a finished quest. Another example would be when you defeat an enemy. There are no dead bodies on the floor. This would be a nice detail if it could be added. Also, I won’t lie; the gameplay loop can get a bit monotonous after a while. I feel the game could have used slightly more variety, especially given how long the game is. The main campaign will take you a good 20 hours to complete!
New Prospects And Station Life.
Included in the Deep Sky Derelicts Definitive Edition are two DLCs. New Prospects is the first expansion which introduces a number of new features such as global conditions, new locations and planets to explore, innovative enemies, new equipment and extra missions! While Station Life, the second expansion to Deep Sky Derelicts, as its name suggests, focuses on overhauling the space station, (your scavenger home) bringing new possibilities to further upgrade and customise your crew.
It introduces a crafting workshop which allows the creation of any type of equipment, medical services that can enhance your crew’s skills and abilities, in addition to giving you the option to customise your crew members’ visual appearance. Finally, random encounters may occur such as having to randomly defend the base from intruding raiders or running into a shady dealer who may have a special item on sale. For a price…
Deep Sky Derelicts adds a fresh take on the Rogue-Like Turn-Based RPG with a unique combat system and beautiful comic book aesthetic. Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition is currently on sale for £10.83 on the Steam Store. Given the 20-hour main campaign along with the two additional DLCs, (New Prospects and Station Life) which add more planets, classes, and environments to explore and loot, you get extraordinary value for your money!
Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition is currently on sale at the Steam Store. If you are interested in purchasing the game you can do so here!
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