Video game space is worryingly dangerous. Instead of being packed so full of nothing that even our densely-crowded asteroid belt averages one small rock every several million cubic kilometers, gaming space is crowded with planets, enemy ships, weird growths, laser and missile fire, and so much debris that piloting a spaceship is like playing bumper cars in a junkyard. The science may be, and I’m being kind here, wonky, but the action tends towards awesome. Reassembly packs its 2D overhead view outer space with all the non-space items it can fit, sets you up with a small fighter ship in a friendly area, and lets you go exploring towards the heart of the map. Lovely as the initial ship is, however, it’s nowhere near good enough to take on the factions that control the regions between you and your goal, so it’s going to have to be torn apart and recreated as something significantly more lethal.
Reassembly is a game about space ships, pieced together any which way you like from whatever parts you have available, and it’s currently sitting on Kickstarter and rapidly nearing its goal. There’s a demo available to show off the ship editor, but Anisoptera Games tossed the alpha my way for a more in-depth look and I’ve been cheerfully tearing through enemy ships when they aren’t tearing their way through me. There’s a lot of good shooting and interesting ideas kicking around inside Reassembly, and while they aren’t kidding about the alpha being early it’s also very easy to ignore its bugs and problems just to see what else you can find.
At the start you’re in a pre-built ship with a tiny gun but good maneuverability. You spawn in a safe zone with friendly ships zipping about their business, harvesting matter from plant-covered asteroids and fighting the occasional enemy wandering into home territory. It’s not a bad little ship, fast and agile, but it’s only got a single gun and a couple of missiles to its name. No shield, no auto-turrets, no batteries, and no cargo space beyond the very minimum required to get started. These necessary items need to be earned, and they can be bought by a combination of two types of currency- physical resources and social credit. Both currencies can be earned either by harvesting asteroids or combat, so it doesn’t take long before you’re spending out on new toys and upgrading the ship’s points so there’s space to use them. Just bolting items in place isn’t going to get you very far, though.
A good ship is designed, not tossed together. You’ll need thrusters not just in the rear but also the sides to provide turning ability, and more of them mean a faster ship. Lots of rear thrust is great for going fast, but if it’s not balanced with a few in the front then braking is going to be very tricky, and a single thruster on either side means you’re trying to steer a space walrus. Guns come in a variety of types, from auto-fire short-range cannons to tracking turrets that fire at the cursor to lasers firing in whatever direction you bolt them on the ship. Secondary and even tertiary weapons can be added as well, such as missiles and drones. You can mix and match primary weapons, such as turrets and lasers, but you’ll need energy to fire them all and that’s going to take batteries. Each part has a health rating, but it’s less of a problem when you’ve carefully balanced where the shields go. And lovely as all these parts are, a ship is more than weapons and tools. It needs a sense of style as well, so hull parts come in a variety of basic geometric shapes that fit together in a huge variety of ways to make whatever ship you can think of. Level up your ship points enough and you can construct the dreadnaught of your dreams, albeit in a pleasantly geometric form.
All the enemies in Reassembly are made by the same method you are, although different factions have access to different pieces so they have their own style. Like your ship, they can be worn down to almost nothing so long as the central command module survives, but even the biggest flagship is finished if you can burrow through its defenses and take out that central piece. It won’t be easy as enemies swarm around, but you can always switch to command mode and grab a few friendlies from home territory for backup. It won’t be easy when lasers are firing, various factions fighting each other and you at the same time, and sometimes even enemy plants shooting out projectile pods, but with proper ship design and a little backup the center of the galactic map might just be attainable. With a little bit of effort and a lot of design work, you might even ride there in style.