Ever since I played it at PAX South this year, Rebel Galaxy has been on my most anticipated list for 2015.  An Indie game developed by Double Damage Games, Rebel Galaxy combines open world (universe) exploration with space ship-to-ship combat that takes close cues from the naval combat in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag.  And it all works.

Rebel Galaxy is a game to get lost in.  So many times, I found myself in a completely different quadrant of a star system simply because I was on a mission and “something cool” caught my eye whether it was floating debris, a pirate hideout or a beautiful nebula.  Then, I would finally figure out what my goal was at that time and I was merrily on my way.  There are plenty of goals from which to choose. With more than a handful of factions to help or hinder, you can pick to be the hero and bring pirates to justice (Did it!) or smuggle illegal live organs to another station for a tidy profit (Did it!) or helped a nearby trader with a distress call for help (Did it!) or even tuck your tail and run away from a bunch of attackers who got the drop on you because you got greedy (Mentioning it for a friend >.>).

You really can do it all or just do one.  Do you want to be a trader and not worry about attacking anyone?  Go for it!  There is a whole world out there with dozens of goods with a varying economy.  While you’re at it, join the merchants’ guild and get specialized ships.  You don’t have to follow the main story line.  Rebel Galaxy is wide open for you to explore.

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been focused on the “feel” of the game.  I’ve done that because it has been a while since I’ve felt this drawn into a game and its universe.  Everything feels “alive” in this pixelated world from the economy to random encounters to dropping out of warp on the most routine delivery to discover a station under siege and being pulled into brawl between the attackers and the military.  Things in the world just happen and you are flying through it rather you “triggering events” in order to push the story along or having the world feel static under you start it up again.

Moving on, if you enjoyed the naval combat in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, you will love the combat in Rebel Galaxy.  It has its own idiosyncrasies – your assailants can move above and below you – not many ships under the water you need to worry about in AC, and Rebel Galaxy has a few more things to worry about when you’re in battle.  You have a multitude of options in which to arm yourself – from basic broadside cannons to attack both capital ships and snubfighters to flak cannons to disable nearby missiles to giant lasers to penetrate your enemy’s shields from a distance.  Battles can quickly turn into a fury of explosions and chaos that you must continuously track to become victorious with as strategies to win as you can concoct.

Lastly, I’m going to focus on the music, which is a licensed mix of southern rock and blues that immediately transports your mind to world of gritty space truckers and pirates where you could easily see Malcolm Reynolds and the crew of Serenity (from the TV show Firefly) existing and making a few bucks.  The soundtrack of this game fits so seamlessly that it just becomes what space travel should sound like.

Overall, Rebel Galaxy is a fantastic space opera you shouldn’t miss.  With hours upon hours of gameplay built with a huge dose of player freedom, you will receive a huge bang for your gaming dollar.  It is out on Steam on October 20, 2015 for $20 USD and plans to show up on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in the future.