Open-World Space RPGs are a popular genre, and numerous titles attempt to distinguish themselves among the collective. Thankfully BlazeSky has an inspired premise and great gameplay. BlazeSky is the first title from Double Robot, and one that I think will find its audience. Personally I’m always weary when a game describes itself as an open world space title, but BlazeSky doesn’t make any grandiose promises or bold statements. It simply is what it is on the tin.
Unlike most traditional space flight games, the Z-axis doesn’t come into play here. BlazeSky operates on a 2.5d scale, with breaks from the 2D handled through scripted animations instead of player action. The camera does occasionally leave you disoriented, but the dogfights will never take too long. In addition, the aim takes some time to catch up with your cursor, so it can be hard to draw a bead on your target. Expect a lot of missing your shots early on. A tutorial would make this easier, but unfortunately one isn’t included here. As a result, a lot of trial and error is required, which makes this a slow starter. Still, once you move past that, BlazeSky does open up to being an enjoyable experience.
The story of BlazeSky is open to interpretation. Your background is that of a freshman explorer starting out with nothing to their name. From there, the quests and adventures you go on are up to you. In my time, I tried to do some quests, but found I needed some upgrades, so I would farm smaller enemy ships. Completing quests and winning ship battles earns you research points to your next upgrade, as well as credits to buy new gear/items. Quests earn you more, but for the safe bet you’ll probably want to fight some enemy fleets. In about five hours I was able to grind two hull upgrades and three new weapons. Hopefully, difficulty options will come in a later update.
BlazeSky avoids the problems of its predecessors by making space feel lively. Hostile systems will have hostile forces refreshed upon reload. Each system has points of interests, assigned to either quests or shops. The space sectors themselves are very impressive, but that beauty is not without danger, as hostile space creatures and radiation populate the less civilized sectors. BlazeSky is graphically reminiscent of semi-realistic titles like Mass Effect, but with an indie charm. The racial designs stand out, and you’re easily able to identify the good guys from the bad guys. Currently, the ship captain models don’t have any talking animations, which can be a little jarring since they are the central focus of the conversation scenes.
Being a title early in development means that the player will encounter bugs. Thankfully I never found any major ones aside from the occasional text error or a few combat issues. The most frustrating was when my button presses wouldn’t register, but these were few and far between. The game can also get a little lonely, and would do well with a co-op or even dogfight game mode. Despite all its shortcomings, this is still impressive for a studio’s first game.
Releasing your first game is sure to be hard, and I am excited for the future of BlazeSky. If you find yourself willing to take a risk on a promising title, I’d recommend this one. For genre fans, this is sure to be a hit, especially since it runs great (for myself, at a smooth 120 FPS). The amount of content on display is impressive, and even though not every inch of it is polished, the areas that are truly shine. If you’re a fan of epic space action that puts you in the pilots seat, give BlazeSky a try.
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