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Recently my gaming attention has been taken up by Hyperspace Delivery Service by Zotnip Games. This is one of those games worth analysis – and not just in game design.
At it’s core, Hyperspace Delivery Service is about a crew and it’s commander (that’s you) delivering important cargo to a distant world. It’s done in a retro-DOS style that hearkens back to games that realized they could “fuse” genres together. Thus several game modes are linked together to form a space adventure game that’s sort of “Oregon Trail” in space – travel and survive. Well, travel, survive, deliver.
Your ship travels from world to world in linear fashion. Managing resources is paramount, from buying them to harvesting them in various ways. Some missions and events may result in space adventures, zooming through asteroid fields or battling pirates arcade-style. Other jobs and events may lead you to FPS adventures fighting robot pirates. Events and options may appear, leading to accidents, benefits, or Choose Your Own Adventure type choices.
These different elements are tied together so they influence each other. A mission may let you get resources you need to travel to another world. The choice of who to send on a mission may yield useful parts or have a special ability that lets them survive the challenge. You can push your crew, but prepared to take time for them to relax before they stress out. Every choice has results, some of which will impact you later in the game.
This is all done in an almost too-close-to-history DOS style, down to the text styles and sound effects. There’s a commitment to an aesthetic that carries through the entire venture – as well as a fantastically spacey soundtrack.
The game itself is therefore a tight fusion, where everything comes together, and not just stylistically. Everything you do matters, every action has consequences, and you’re constantly engaged moment by moment.
In many ways, it’s a spiritual brother to Star Traders: Frontiers. ST: F is a modern-style game where multiple games and rules and modes create a galaxy-spanning space adventure where you manage a huge and diverse crew. Hyperspace Delivery Service takes past styles and setups, but also fuses game elements together, to create its own space adventure and its own feel.
The simple retro elements of the game play well to this – because none is overly complex, their interactions are understandable and clear. This doesn’t mean the game is easy – it’s quite challenging. It’s just understandable (which might lure you into a false sense of security). There’s a lovely sense of precision to it.
On top of this, the game’s developer is incredibly responsive to fans in Early Access. As of this post I’ve seen the game go through multiple updates, the developer listening carefully to feedback while asking questions. Thus the game isn’t just fun to play, there’s an additional level of enjoyment as playing it lets you connect with your fellow fans and the creator.
If you work in any form of media, this is another game to pay attention to because you’ll learn a lot about combining elements and engaging fans.
Oh, and it’s fun!