The unknown dangers and promises of ancient alien technology. The struggle of living life as a scavenger, trying to brave those unknowns in order to survive. Players of Deep Sky Derelicts get to experience these trials and more as they adventure across space as a small band of scavengers tasked with discovering important data on each “derelict”, abandoned alien spaceships filled with a host of hostile robots and aliens. Level up scavengers, customize weapons and items, discover a mix of junk and treasure, and fight to your heart’s content in this sci-fi card strategy game.
Deep Sky Derelicts offers two game modes: campaign and arena. Campaign is the equivalent of a “story mode”; you play as a trio of stateless scavengers that are offered the comfortable life of citizenship by the government. In exchange, you must find and bring back data onboard the various derelicts pertaining to the location of the mythical “Mothership.” In arena mode, you merely battle groups of enemies one after the other, which is appealing to players that wish to test their fighting skill. Both modes offer two levels of difficulty: normal, in which players can save the game and load a previous save after they die, and hard, where players will experience permadeath, i.e. they cannot load a save after the entire team dies.
Before starting either mode, players get a random selection of three scavengers and can infinitely reroll for different scavengers until they receive a team that satisfies them. There are various types of scavengers, such as Leaders, Bruisers, Medics, and Trackers, each with different stats, gear, and card options. The indecisive need fear not; in campaign mode, there is an option to hire new scavengers if you ever find the need for a change. Along with the scavenger type, players can customize the in-game look of each scavenger and select a personality for them, which will boost one of their stats. The many team variations are perhaps the most appealing part of Deep Sky Derelicts; it encourages players to repeatedly play a game mode with different scavenger combinations, similar to how players of card-collecting games such as Magic or Yu-Gi-Oh continuously look for ways to update their decks with new additions.
As mentioned before, Deep Sky Derelicts is a member of the strategy card-game genre. Battles are turn-based, and the moves that are available to the player are determined by the set of cards that each scavenger holds. The cards differ on ability and power based on the scavenger’s specialty, level, and gear. For players that are unfamiliar with this genre (such as the reviewer), making sense of the battles is tricky. This game does not contain a tutorial, but each card and ability does have detailed text explanations as to what they do. Players can also access a “codex” in-game, which exists as a glossary for more exotic terms that appear on the cards. However, it is a lot of information to absorb for the casual player and takes some time to get use to. Luckily, in both modes, enemies are appropriately easier to defeat in the beginning to help ease players into the game.
Campaign mode has a fairly simple storyline while arena mode has none, since it is for the sake of non-stop battle fun. The plot of campaign mode has no noteworthy details other than what was previously described, but players will likely find it to be intriguing enough. The “missions” that players can undertake in campaign offer cute, mini sub-plots where the player must locate someone or find some item, which encourages players to more thoroughly explore the environment of each derelict and acts as a reprieve from constant battle strategizing.
Despite the ability for players to choose their scavenger’s personality, their in-game portrayal is slightly bland and not particularly memorable, with their battle responses mostly consisting of “take that!” or “you will die for trying to oppose us!” no matter which scavengers you choose. However, there are some gems among the cast of side characters and enemies which are sure to make players smile as they interact with them.
The old comic book art style of Deep Sky Derelicts is an extremely distinguishing component of the game. Very few things are animated; each move in battles is shown as if it was a comic book panel and speech and occasionally some actions are described through text bubbles. The colors are generally muted and gloomy, which convey the dystopia sci-fi theme well.
Although this reviewer is not a particular fan of card games, for its unusual art style and variety of game options that can keep players coming back for more, Deep Sky Derelicts deserves an 8.3/10 (which has the potential to increase if developers ever decide to make a multiplayer option).
Check Out the Deep Sky Derelicts Launch Trailer:
Deep Sky Derelicts is developed by Snowhound Games and published by 1C Entertainment and is now available for PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam for $19.99.