Wednesday, July 15, 2015

PC Review #120: Starship Rubicon

Title: Starship Rubicon
Developer: Cheerful Ghost Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Price: $9.99
Earth is gone. The remnants of humanity are drifting in cryopods or were lucky enough to be piloting spaceships off-world. In Starship Rubicon, you alone must defeat the alien Nemesis that wiped your home world off the galactic map. A titanic task for sure, but agile dogfighting and in-depth-customization even the odds
At its core, Starship Rubicon is a space shoot-em-up with rogue-lite elements, as you take on the Nemesis armadas, rescue cryopods, and gather NPC allies. A shmup lives or dies by its gameplay and Starship Rubicon just shines in that aspect. A varied array of ships are available to unlock, each with their own unique starting stats, weapon, special ability, and chassis shape. The latter is important in how it ties in with the game's customization. Similar to Resident Evil 4's inventory system, you fit together modules, some of which are in odd shapes or must link with other pieces.
Those modules allow you to mold each ship to your playstyle. Swap out your laser for a shotgun, tri-blast, flamethrower, gravity gun. Imbue your ship with the ability to teleport, cloak, unleash a barrage of homing missiles. Equip enhanced shields, damage buffs, auto-targeting protection drones, additional armor, and much more. Thrusting between projectiles, boosting to outrun lasers and missiles, cutting the engine to drift forward while firing at pursuing enemies...the fast-paced combat is reminiscent of Vlambeer's sepia bullet hell Luftrausers. Rubicon isn't as frenetic or fast as that game, but the responsive controls and one-against-many dogfights offers a similar satisfying thrill, especially once environmental hazards like black holes and minefields start appearing.

You journey across a galactic map, jumping from node to node and choosing your battles along the way. Each node informs you of what enemy types await and what rewards you'll gain by surviving the encounter, ranging from credits to spend on repairs and at shops to new equipment and allies. This risk/reward system adds another layer to Starship Rubicon's action. Do you risk a tough battle and bring an NPC ship into the fray, knowing there's a greater chance of that companion being destroyed? Choose less challenging fights at the expense of credits and equipment? Decide wisely.
Between a plethora of ships to unlock, a level and ship editor, and a hardcore mode, there are hours of challenging interstellar dogfights to be found in Starship Rubicon. The game is available on Steam, Humble, and

An early freeware version, lacking the campaign and ship customization, can be downloaded here.

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