Game: Space Grunts
Genre: Action, Arcade, Strategy,
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PC and Mobile)
Developer|Publisher: Orange Pixel
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: UK £12.59 | EU €13,99 | US $13.99
Release Date: October 5th, 2020
Review code provided with many thanks to Orange Pixel
Investigate a Distress Call
The year is 2476 and the Space Grunts have been sent in to investigate a distress call. You initially get to choose from three characters (more can be unlocked later) and it’s up to you to move from level to level and find out what happened and of course, avoid dying in the process. Much like most of Orange Pixels games you should expect to die pretty quickly. But its the simple and addictive gameplay that will have you coming back for more over and over again.
Plan Your Moves Fast or Slow
The levels are grid-based, every time you make a move or perform an action the enemies in the level will perform a single action also. So if you want to play the game at a slow methodical pace you can. But if you like things more action-based the game will happily keep up as you attempt to speed your way through the levels. It’s this choice and mix that makes Space Grunts appeal to both fans of the genre whilst also inviting a new audience in, making this a possible entry point for people looking to get into the turn-based genre.
The Orange Pixel Mark
The graphics are simple retro pixels with a retro sound and feel. It’s something Orange Pixel is well known for and it works with this design. Every now and then the characters will pause to make a witty comment or three so you may get the odd chuckle out of the game too.
The controls are nice simple pick up and play. Simply move your character with the directions and press for action like shoot a weapon or use an item if you want to. This simplicity makes for a nice pick-up and play experience ideally in handheld mode but the game also performs fine in TV mode.
Armed and Ready
You start out with 3 weapons, each with their own perks. A trail of red circles will indicate if your weapons will hit their target. Additionally a ‘!’ will hover above your head if you’re using an explosive, warning you that the shot will hurt you as well, so you stand at a better distance. Bullets are limited so make every shot count. It’s also worth considering that not all enemies need taking out in a map but since the gunplay was quite satisfying I found this often hard to resist.
As well as weapons you also have items that can be used to aid you on your mission such as armour buffs, additional weapons and weapon enhancements. These usually only last temporarily or for a set amount of moves so using them at the correct time is essential for success. Space Grunts’ randomly generated design makes the game very unpredictable, meaning I often chose to use the items sooner rather than later if only to learn how they work for a future playthrough.
Each level is fun to explore searching each room for more health or ammo while potentially risking swarms of enemies. Sometimes there are odd crystals lying around which shooting will reward you with health or poison. The risk is yours and often those choices can make or break runs which adds to the exciting random design. There are also secrets to find and lots of enemies to encounter.
Random Every Time
It’s Space Grunts’ randomly generated level design that makes it so replayable. Levels, enemies and item drops are never the same, making it easy to jump back into another run so long as you have the time to spare. The game can be very unforgiving and hard but I never found it particularly frustrating. There were some runs I played where the odds were clearly not in my favour and I ran out of ammo or items meaning death was inevitable. The game also doesn’t let you skip a turn, you have to make a move to make enemies move, even if its back and forth over the same tiles. Meaning often I would dance with enemies to get them into an appropriate position to shoot them. But despite these niggles, it certainly didn’t stop me coming back for more. Since the controls are simple and to the point, this is an easy game to dip in and out of in-between other gaming projects.
In Space, No One Can Hear You Grunt
I ended up liking Space Grunts more than I expected. I wasn’t too sure how I initially felt about the turn-based design but it ended up working really well here. New to the genre? This might be a great entry point to start.
A fun, fast rogue-like game that is well worth playing on and off whether you have hours to spare or mere minutes. Plus, it might make you chuckle at times, which is always nice. Great work!
Final Verdict: I liked it a lot