So there I was, screaming through the stars. In my explorations, I accidentally kicked a hornet’s nest and am now paying the price. I found myself fleeing from three well equipped fighters that were determined to make an example of me. Taking stock of the situation, it seemed dire. My point defense systems were overwhelmed, not that they would help with the shower of plasma and lasers I was enduring. I could try to throw out a couple of ships to counter the enemy, but my onboard ship factory was currently residing two clicks back in the form of sparkling, super-heated dust. It is then that I happened upon an asteroid field. Seeing a chance to gain some space and cover, I navigate inside. This plan might have worked if I took into account that my ship steered like a pig doped up on a cocktail of schedule 1 depressants. I almost missed an over sized piece of detritus in my way, but instead managed to shear off my port side thrusters. Spinning in place like a top, I had time for one last thought before I was overtaken by the foe and vaporized: who designed this steaming pile of dung of a ship?
Oh. That’s right. Me.
This moment came early in my time with Anisoptera Games’ Reassembly. It must be said, while it may appear to be an unassuming space shooter, this Kickstarted piece of software has some incredibly deep hooks. What we have here is a 2D, top down, open world, exploration, shooter/RPG. It is freaking awesome.
In single player, you spawn into the world surrounded by other friendly ships. The primary impetus is simply to explore the galaxy, improve your ship, and crush all who oppose you. There is a quest system in place to help guide the player through the nuances of doing so, as well as give really good ideas on how to use the games systems to your advantage, but these are not required. In fact, there is a sandbox mode built in that allows the player to forego the whole thing.
Exploring the stars is a joy, at that. The map is procedurally generated; no play through is ever quite the same. During my play, I was continually finding new types of landmarks to help me keep my bearings. There is also a feature where other players’ ships are uploaded and can randomly find their way into your single player game, which also helped keep the experience fresh. I do not foresee a lack of new content for this one just based on these features.
One of the best features to be found here is the ability (and requirement) to build your own ship. When opening the build screen, it can seem a tad underwhelming. To be insultingly reductive, it comes down to taking a command module and slapping some geometric shapes, engines, and guns on it. It is all put together side-by-side on a 2d plane, kind of like a puzzle. This means you can’t just slap a cannon on top of an existing hull piece. You would have to remove that piece and add the new one. At first, I was not a fan of this limitation, but I grew to appreciate it. Keeping it simple like this meant that even I could put together some rather creative and cool looking ships with minimal effort.
This also helps with the thrust and turn mechanics of actually controlling the ship. As this is space, Reassembly simulates a vacuum. If you don’t have properly powered thrusters on your sides and front, you will not be able to move and steer the way you intend, as I learned the hard way. It’s not a perfect simulation; I didn’t bounce off obstacles in the way I would expect from junior high physics, but it is enough to make each tweak matter.
The actual ship controls were pretty easy in theory. WASD controls the thrust and you aim using the mouse. The ship building screen is also elegant in its simplicity. It utilizes a drag and drop system for adding and removing components. Multiple components can be selected at once, allowing for ease, and it is a simple matter to flip the angle of a piece so it fits with your design.
To prevent the player from just loading up on armor and weapons is an RPG type system. Each ship has a point limit for how much can be added on. Increasing this point limit requires exploration, reactivation of friendly space stations, and destruction of the enemy. Many actions earn credits which can be used for expanding your ships limits as well as unlocking new weapons and equipment to tack on. The carrot is certainly at the end of the stick here, and produces that same “just a little bit more” cycle of improvement.
While the ship building consists of geometric shapes, taking the design out of blueprint and into play certainly pays off. If the build screen seems overly simplistic, it is only to help the player create something that looks cool during play. There were a few times that I thought my design was “hot-poker-to-the-eye-would-be-better” ugly, but when I took it on a flight, I found the results appealing. It truly is difficult to create a ship without some aesthetic value. They are even better looking when getting destroyed. The developers certainly love them some particle effects. Just about everything that gets hits creates noticeable destruction. Pieces get shot off of ships and organic material disintegrates. I don’t know that I would call it “gorgeous” as their Steam store front suggests. “Memorizing” or “satisfying” is a more apt description.
I also want to touch briefly on the sound. While the detonations, clashes, and clangs were well done, some of the weapon sounds aren’t quite appealing. Some of the weapons sound tinny, and I found myself refusing to use the auto-cannon in particular as the sound was just annoying. As for the music, it’s electronic trance. It’s well done trance, to be sure, but it’s not my thing.
I would like to note that there is also a multiplayer mode here, but I did not test it out. I was so into the single player portion that the time I budgeted to try this feature was spent.
With all that said, I would absolutely recommend Reassembly. While there are a few short comings, it has taken the 2D shooter genre and added something that gives it legs: player investment that is easy to use. It’s fun, destructive, and addictive. This is absolutely worth the fifteen dollar asking price.