Star Renegades is the latest game to be released from Massive Damage, who some may recognise from their work on Halcyon 6, which offers a stylish dimension saving RPG adventure. Do you have what it takes to lead a rebellion against the Imperium? Let’s find out…
Sent from a recently destroyed neighbouring dimension, the service droid J5T-1N brings a warning of an impending invasion by the Imperium. As a counter measure, the rebellion is created to bring some of the mightiest warriors & desperados together in the hope of halting the enemy advance, for if you fail to stop them in this universe – the Imperium will move onto the next conquerable dimension.
The game opens with a Saturday morning cartoon styled intro before delving into its cross dimensional invasion story. As a whole the story is generally fine, pretty much lacks the depth for any gravitas tho, but at least does enough to keep the game ticking over as you progress. There’s other things than the story that will keep you interested, such as the procedurally generated missions from each dimension hop by J5T-1N and Adversary system. Adversary is surprisingly similar to the nemesis of Shadow of War, not quite as fleshed out tho, but still a worthy inclusion as you work your way up the enemies evolving officers and see it’s effects as you take them out.
I’ll be honest and say that the whole pixel art style of graphics just isn’t for me, but that didn’t prevent the game from looking quite striking at times. Whilst the character designs & special effects for the combat look quite good, the real standout for me was the dynamic lighting. Almost any powerful attack, or possibly even environmental light source, creates dynamic shadows from every sprite on screen that seem to dance across the stage. For a primarily 2D game it does add a lot of depth, but it really comes into it’s own during fights as the bright lights and dancing shadows create a bombastic look that hard to ignore.
Whilst performance was as expected on the PC given what we are looking (4K with no issues as all), it was really with my laptop (Core i7/16GB/R9 M270X) that I was interested in seeing how things turned out given the extra flourishes with this game. Surprisingly Full HD was almost perfect, small stutters occasionally, which should bode well for those on more modest hardware. There’s always the option of dropping resolution given the pixel style, but you likely won’t need to.
When not exploring the stages for secrets & lore, you’ll be battling your enemies in turn based combat. The games uses that quirky version of it based around time, but that just depends on which moves you decide to choose. Simple slashes are quick and can usually be done before the enemies turn, this also grants you a critical hit bonus, whilst the more elaborate moves can take almost the whole turn time to complete. This is shown at the top of the screen, with other info about your move displayed elsewhere, so you have plenty of things to mull over before committing that turn.
The enemy shields, combined with seeking out their strengths & weaknesses, give the game a decent amount of depth for its turn-based combat. The extra cherry on the top of that is the different characters that can make up your team. Each character is unique and generally have their own way of taking on enemies, balancing a party for an upcoming mission can take some thought. You can generally get by without the perfect party tho, so best to experiment as much as possible to find a combination that suits you instead.
Star Renegades offers everyone the chance to lead a ragtag rebellion against an imposing Imperium with some stylish pixel-art visuals and surprisingly in-depth turn based gameplay rounding off the package. The story doesn’t quite do the premise justice, but there’s enough to keep things ticking over and the game excels elsewhere. Certainly worth a try for those keen on the turn based RPG genre.
It’s like an 8-Bit styled Quantum Leap, but instead of saving people here & there – you gotta save the universe with the dirty dozen. No pressure.