Blackspace

Platforms: PC
Release Date: Summer 2013
Genre: Defensive Action RTS
Developer: PixelFoundry

Blackspace | Indie Game Spotlight

With 20 days left to reach its $350K Kickstarter goal, sci-fi strategy title Blackspace is definitely looking like an indie game to watch. Dubbed by its team of two ex-Electronic Arts developers as a “Defensive Action RTS,” this game is like a cross between tower defense, Red Faction, RTS base building, and a 3D ‘Lunar Lander,’ played through the eyes of what’s essentially a Starcraft SCV. A strange concept for sure, but it all starts to click when you see it in action:

You can make some pretty serious craters with Blackspace's physics system.

Though many of the assets in the above video may be place holders, it’s easy to see how all these relatively familiar, typically separate gameplay systems come together to make something really unique. At the forefront is the considerable destructibility of these spherical asteroids which, according to the developers, can be destroyed all the way down to their cores. Anybody who was missing the terrain deformation of older ‘Red Faction’ titles will likely be right at home in this game’s brand of chaos. You can also use the game’s physics to “crush your enemies,” says the game’s Kickstarter page. “Smash them into one another or into the ground… or… if you’re feeling primitive, drop a big rock on them. You can even test your trajectory skills and try to send them into orbit. The physics of the world are not only fun, they add a new dimension to whats possible in an action RTS.”

The game sports some great lighting effects, with animorphic flare that would make J.J. Abrams proud.

Something that interests me especially is the way this game juggles these dark, solitary moments of resource gathering and mining on a lonely rock, evoking imagery of Duncan Jones’  2009 film “Moon,” and the fast, frenetic action of feverishly defending your base from oncoming attackers. While you do build the traditional towers to defend your base from hordes of baddies, you also build other units to do some of your dirty work. They’re meant to be intelligent enough to do their own thing, but RTS-like systems are being put in place to control them when necessary. Something that differentiates this from other tower defense or RTS titles is in the design of the asteroids you inhabit on your journey. ”This “map” has no corners,” says the Kickstarter. “Enemies could potentially come from any direction. But, with some early scouting, and intelligence gathering, you will be able to predict the general direction of the front line so you can dig in and deploy before the enemy strikes.”

With some gorgeous,  moody environments and beautifully chaotic destruction, Blackspace is pretty easy on the eyes. The devs recently partnered with NVIDIA to add Stereoscopic 3D support to the game as well. For all you who feel more comfortable with a gamepad, or even a joystick, you’re covered on that front too. The devs aren’t ruling out releases on consoles, Mac or Linux, but for now look forward to blowing stuff up on exclusively on PC in Summer 2013. It’s nice to see indie games daring to go where larger, safer games fear to tread, and I hope the best for Blackspace in its Kickstarter journey.

You can visit the game’s Kickstarter page here: Blackspace – Plan. Dig. Defend. Survive.

 

 

Nick Hawryluk is the senior producer, director and editor of Press Play the Webseries. He also runs and contributes articles to the Press Play website.

 

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