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So I Played… RymdResa

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Some time ago I ended up testing this little game called RymdResa on a livestream. Afterwards I decided to look into it a little bit more and I am now here to present my thoughts on the experience.

RymdResa is an artistic indie roguelike space odyssey developed by Morgondag in which you play an astronaut in search of a new home after your home planet gets destroyed. However, you only have limited resources and many light years of space to explore.

Disclosure: The key was provided by the developer.

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Writing this review has taken me a while because it has taken some effort to figure out what RymdResa is all about. It’s a very artistic experience and the problem with artistic experiences is that they tend to be difficult to understand and judge. Before I go any further I do have to confess that I am not someone that appreciates art, particularly abstract art. I love a good story but being artsy for the sake of being artsy isn’t something I’m used to nor is it something I really respect. And I feel that RymdResa tries a bit too hard to be artistic and sacrifices too much to achieve that.

The gameplay of RymdResa consists, for the most part, of flying from point A to point B in search of something. The game does have a couple of quests but they aren’t all that varied. Sometimes you need to fetch a certain amount of items from certain locations and other times you need to explore the space around you to gather materials for various projects. During these journeys there isn’t that much stuff to do. Sure, there are a couple of dangers: belts of asteroids, suns that will capture you with their gravitational pull and later even alien ships that are not too friendly. But in all cases all you must really do is adjust your course slightly to avoid collision or getting too close. There are a couple of consumable items that can be used to destroy surrounding dangers or to protect yourself from hits but there aren’t any standard, direct ways to deal with enemies, so don’t expect to pick up any weaponry on the way. There’s one additional danger which is running out of resources on the way. Accelerating consumes resources and if you run out it’s game over. However, I never felt like I was running out of resources due to flying around, it was always due to too many collisions, which also deplete your resource pool.

You can also equip items on your ship and there are multiple different ships to pick from, each with their own set of items, but I found the items to be quite underwhelming. Most of the items you pick up along the journey only really affect your speed and acceleration and the other effects mostly deal with finding more items. Some items are directly better than others, so there’s some Diablo-style inventory management going on where you need to pick which Legendary item to equip to which slot. And yes, they are named Legendary, Rare and Common (plus a couple of others) in the game. The only items that seemed to have a special purpose were the shields and the sentries. Shields are fairly self-explanatory, if they are charged they will protect you from a certain amount of hits, when depleted your ship will take damage. The sentries are a bit different and in my opinion the naming of that particular item is fairly bad. What the sentry appears to do is point you towards the coordinates available for your current quest. Sometimes it points to your home base, other times it points towards items or locations you need to reach. I don’t quite understand what the sentry stats mean but I always picked the best one available to me.

The ships you have available also vary in stats. The first ship you have available is fairly mediocre, not able to withstand many hits but not too slow either. The main differences between the ships, at least for me, was their speed, durability and cost. In order to use the better ships you need to have enough “spacepoints” which you will gain by completing quests and generally exploring the space. These spacepoints are also used for research, which unlocks and grants you more consumables and other features, even odd stuff like shadows for your ships.

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I also take issue with some of the terms RymdResa describes itself with. On the Steam store page RymdResa is described as a “roguelike space odyssey” which I don’t really agree with. I could be extremely pedantic and claim that it’s not a roguelike at all, which it definitely isn’t, but I am not even really talking about that. Even if the game marketed itself as a “roguelite”, which is definitely a lot closer to reality, I don’t think even that really describes the experience. You see, by default RymdResa doesn’t really punish you for dying. If you die on the “Normal” difficulty you won’t lose any progress whatsoever. On “Extreme” difficulty you will lose spacepoints and all items you have gathered and only on “Hardcore” will you get a more roguelite experience, which boots you to the beginning of the chapter upon death and you lose all equipment and spacepoints. This in my opinion doesn’t really conform to the definition of a roguelite which typically has permadeath by default. There are also games out there that we don’t describe as roguelites (not to mention roguelikes) that force you to complete the game without dying on the hardest difficulty. While the game does have another roguelite component, the procedural map generation, I don’t think that’s quite enough to market RymdResa as a roguelite.

Now that we have some of the mechanics out of the way, let’s talk about the story. The narrative is told in the form of cinematics at the beginning and the end of each of the three chapters of the story mode and also in the form of diary entries of the pilot, which the game drops every now and then. Each of the diary entries reads a bit like a poem, detailing the daily routines and thoughts of the pilot on his lonesome journey through the void. The entries aren’t too badly written and they do convey the feeling of loneliness and even despair of the pilot on his difficult quest to find a new home, but I also have some issues with it. The game advertises itself as a procedurally generated experience and that also expands to the narrative to an extent. What I mean by that is that the diary entries are played in a random order, which doesn’t really help the narrative move in much of any direction. There’s also the problem of entries playing multiple times during the experience, I definitely ended up hearing some of the entries so many times that I got annoyed by it, not something you want to happen. Luckily there’s a mute button so at least you don’t absolutely need to listen to them if you don’t want to. I personally would have made sure the diary entries are played in a certain order or at least made sure they don’t get replayed.

Another element of the narrative experience are the random events. Every now and then you will stumble upon planets and spacecraft and you can explore them. It’s sort of like the randomized non-combat encounters in FTL: Faster Than Light where you are given a couple of options and you will either be rewarded or penalized. In RymdResa you simply don’t have as many options, you are only really given two regardless of the equipment you might have. The amount of events also seems to be fairly low and I ran into the same encounters multiple times during the 6 hours I spent on the game.

As for the story itself, the first and the second chapter were alright, though the second chapter’s main quest was a fairly annoying grind for materials. The third chapter took the story into a very strange direction and I still don’t quite understand why the events of the third chapter even had to happen. Maybe I skipped some essential diary entries but I really don’t think so. The ending wasn’t too bad I guess but the events leading to that ending in the third chapter were just odd and unexplainable.

I’m not going to spoil the story for you in case you want to experience it yourself but I do have to talk about the end bosses. So, right before the ending (which I will not spoil) you need to face three bosses which hold valuable items you require. Up until this point the game had not had any bosses whatsoever so it came to me as a complete surprise. And, as the game advertises itself as a non-violent experience, the bosses naturally are not fought but instead you must answer about 15 questions per each boss, each question having two possible answers. Answer the question wrong and you lose health, answer correctly and you can continue mostly unharmed. And I remind you, there are three of these bosses essentially right after one another, so that’s 45 questions you need to get mostly correct. I found this to be an extremely bad way to end the game as there was no real way to do it without at least some trial and error. I ended up having to redo that part multiple times and ended up even recording my answers on a piece of paper to figure out how to answer the questions. The whole exercise was made even more annoying by the fact that upon death you need to make your way back to the bosses in order to try again, which meant maybe 10 minutes of downtime just to try your luck again. I don’t really think an experience that describes itself as “relaxing” should have caused this many dents in the surface of my table.

The game does have a couple of redeeming factors though, particularly in the sound department. The soundtrack is not too shabby and definitely makes trekking through the space a lot more pleasant. It also seems that all of the different ships have a slightly different soundtrack which I can see being a reason to fly more than three of them. The game also has low system requirements and is thus playable on pretty much any somewhat modern x86 potato you have lying around. The experience was also mostly bug free, though the screen seemed to shift upwards or to the side after a longer session. I’m guessing the screen shake effect they use doesn’t fully reset the screen to where it was initially.

In conclusion, I didn’t find RymdResa to be a particularly enjoyable experience. To me it felt boring, tedious at times and a monotonous grind. I suppose you should be focusing on the artsy stuff and making your own interpretations of the underlying message it’s trying to convey, but I really don’t feel like doing any pretentious artistical analysis of the game to find a grander meaning in the experience. Sure, someone with more interest towards the art will probably find more enjoyment in the game than me, but I personally didn’t like it. The mechanics simply didn’t feel all that fun and particularly the final chapter was just an annoyance after annoyance. I possibly could have overlooked the mechanical flaws if the story had been excellent but I also found the story to be somewhat disappointing and the random events and diary entries didn’t really help establish a consistent and flowing narrative.

However, before you take my word for it, I’d like to note that I appear to be in the minority with my opinion and on Steam the game has a 86% approval rate, so maybe I just don’t get it. But I am going to stand behind my words when I say I didn’t find the experience fun and thus I cannot recommend the game. Maybe pick it up when it goes on sale if you feel like your life absolutely needs more art in it but otherwise I’d simply stay away.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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About the author -
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I'm a Linux gamer from Finland. I like reading, long walks on the beach, dying repeatedly in roguelikes and ripping and tearing in FPS games. I also sometimes write code and sometimes that includes hobbyist game development.
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The comments on this article are closed.
2 comments

hardpenguin 22 June 2016 at 6:35 pm UTC
On the other hand, Dungeons of Dredmor is a roguelike but by default it doesn't punish the death

I kinda agree with your review, I expected more from this game than I've got from it. I think that the game is a poetic story about lonely exploring the space. And you kinda have to feel it. If you don't, then you don't. Definitely not a game for everyone, but it was okay+.


Last edited by hardpenguin on 22 June 2016 at 6:37 pm UTC
tuxisagamer 22 June 2016 at 7:18 pm UTC
I really dug it. But it's not your typical space exploration game.
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