otherwise known as “blow up everything!” the game

Space, Pirates, and Zombies (I will be referring to it as SPAZ from now on) is exactly what it sounds like.

In essence, it’s a remake of the old game Asteroids (you know, the one where you’re a triangle shooting at popcorn shaped asteroids) on cocaine.  Cocaine made of concentrated laser beams, finely powdered explosions, and several ounces of sci-fi.

The game takes place in the distant future, where space travel was made possible by a mysterious new element referred to through out the game as “rez”.  Rez and crew members compose a vast majority of SPAZ’s resource mechanic.

Rez is used to construct your ships, simple enough.  Any ship can be piloted by just one crew member, but the more crew you assign to a ship (up to a cap), the more efficiently it functions.  The flip side is that you will lose more of your overall pool of crew members when that ship is destroyed (and your ships will get destroyed, this game pulls no punches).

As the player, you are the “Pirates” part of the title.  You start the game floating in the orbit of an utterly ruined Earth (a general reflection of what the rest of the galaxy is like) with a crudely cobbled together mother ship and one smaller ship.  At this point, your ships are basically being held together by the crew’s collective hope to not be sucked into the vacuum of space.  Your mother ship acts as your base of operations in whatever solar system you are currently in.  Meanwhile, you have direct control over the smaller ships (you eventually get 4 of them going out at once).

Your only real goal is get to the galactic core, where there is rumored to be a massive amount of rez (and probably a few black holes).  You do this by slowly working your way through progressively tougher and tougher systems (they have a numerical rating for how likely they are to murder you in half).  The general rule of thumb is, the closer you get to the core, the more likely the aforementioned murder will happen.

There’s a leveling system in the game that gives you general upgrades in the field you put points into, as well as unlocking the ability to use better items.  The leveling system is incredibly expansive; with upwards of 15 categories to upgrade.  These categories are generally split between combat systems, defense, and utility.

There are four categories that I would consider to be “utility”, crew, subsystems, reactors, and engines.  Crew, for the most part, just deals with capacity (until you level up enough to get boarding pods.  Those are fun).  And subsystems generally deal with close you have to be before you can grab resources that float around space.  Engines deal with how fast you can go, while reactors deal with how much power you can divert through out your ships.  Anything you want your ship to do (fire guns, use it’s engines to move) draws power, so you have to try to balance what you want your ship to do above all else.

The defenses are split between shields, hull, cloak, armor, and drones.  Shields are exactly what they sound like, they draw power from your reactor to prevent damage.  Armor, on the other hand, slows you down, but doesn’t take any power.  Your hull basically acts as your ship’s health points.  The better your cloaking, the harder you are to detect, if you have a stealth generator equipped (which takes the place of your shields).  Drones intercept incoming fire and will attack nearby ships.

Your combat systems are cannons, beams, launchers, mines, and bombs.  Each has a strength and weakness of it’s own.  Cannons shred through armor, but do little damage to shields and hulls.  Beams are strong against shields, but weak against hulls and armor.  Launchers (missiles and rockets and stuff like that) are good against hulls, but weak against the other two.  Mines and bombs differ a bit from this pattern.

You can find mines and bombs that are strong against any particular type of defense.  The flip side is that they are far more circumstantial than the other weapon types.  Mines are basically sedentary after you deploy them; so if the battle moves, you’re going to need to redeploy them.  Bombs are slow (but very dangerous), and take up a lot of space on your ships.  This doesn’t leave much room for other weapons with which to defend yourself.

This brings me to the next thing I really liked about the game.  The way you get acquire new ships.

Are you ready for this?

By blowing them up.

That’s right.  Every time you destroy a ship that you can’t already build, there’s a chance they will drop blueprints.  If you collect enough blueprints for the same ship (blow up the same type of ship a bunch) you will unlock the ability to build that ship.  If you see a terrifyingly destructive ship that you are just dying to try out, you’re going to have to pit yourself against it a number of times before you’re going to be able to use it.

Now, you might be thinking, “that’s nice, but what about the ‘zombies’ part of the title”.  Well, about two thirds of the way through the game, you enter the inner half of the galaxy.  By now, you’ve probably decked yourself out in nice ships and nicer weapons.  You strut your way into the inner half of the galaxy, confident you can take on anything the game can throw at you.

And then you come across a scene of grotesque purple space gunk attaching itself to the hulls of the local population’s ships, slowly encasing them into a cocoon of more purple something, and eventually spitting out a half organic (probably), half used-to-be ship, and entirely terrifying.  Zombies fly around solar systems attacking anything with a pulse, forcing their way into ships, and turning all your super nice, completely decked out murder-ships into their super nice, completely decked out murder-ships.

SPAZ is intensely fun and very pretty (if you’re into space stuff), but it very quickly starts to feel repetitive.  There are only a few different types of missions that you can find in any given solar system.  After some two dozen solar systems, there isn’t much you haven’t done. But, if you like blowing things up as much as I do, you’ll still probably love this game.  If you’re into sci-fi, space combat, or big explosions, this is certainly worth picking up.

Space, Pirates, and Zombies was created by Minmax games.  It can be purchased through steam for $9.99.  To learn more about SPAZ or Minmax games, check out their website.

About The Author

Things I love: Video games, comics, steampunk, space
Things I like: Cyberpunk, hard cider, not being in the sun, pokemon
Things I dislike: The sun

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