Hardspace Shipbreaker Test The Space Mining Game, A Lot Of Work Is A Lot Of Fun

Space battles with deadly laser duels, swarms of rockets, and fast-paced dogfights: you won’t experience all of that in Hardspace: Shipbreaker. Because in this space simulation, you also dismantle spaceships – but very peacefully.

As a lonely wrecker in an astronaut suit, you take apart various types of spaceship piece by piece using lasers or explosives and throw the recycling material into the melting furnace, the recycling plant, or awaiting freighter.

This sounds exciting for impatient players as a trip to the yellow, blue or black garbage can. But if you like disassembling things efficiently, have a lot of patience, and would like to experience an unusual simulation with funny ideas and physics gimmicks, then Hard space: Shipbreaker is for you!

And: Your job can end fatally even without space battles because nasty dangers lurk when dismantling.

It suits you if…
You are open to a fresh game idea.
You like to experiment with physics effects.
You want a completely different space simulation.

It doesn’t suit you if…
It would help if you had action and variety.
Your sense of direction is at -1.
You are impatient.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker creates a believable, oppressive, alone-in-space atmosphere. As a lonely wrecker, you float weightlessly around the currently selected ship and venture inside your spacesuit. Your recycling center hangs in orbit. Forwards and backward, sideways, rotate, and brake can be done with a mouse and keyboard or with a gamepad and works great after a bit of practice.

Your two main tools are a laser for slashing and an electric grappling hook that you use to attract, move, or knock away components. With explosives and remote detonators, you dismantle ship parts even faster – but you have to be particularly careful not to destroy any valuable details. Or caught a power line. Or a fuel tank. Or even the reactor. If you recycle the separate components correctly, i.e., toss them into the yellow, blue or black bin, you will receive a bonus, and a yellow indicator bar will fill up at the top.

But if you mess up, so to speak, throw a dog food can into the paper bin or laser away something valuable, then the credits are deducted, and the bar fills up red from the right. We’ll get to that in a moment. In advance, you are doing all this to work off the fantastic billions in debt that your education allegedly cost you. Every gallon of air and fuel, every repair shows up on your payslip, and even the payslip costs extra.

However, these socially critical exploitative undertones in occasional text messages wear off quickly. It’s like in real life: If you have so much debt, you won’t care anyway at some point.

Deadly Physics
Hardspace: Shipbreaker scores above all with its physics system. When you pull components out of a ship, they realistically bang on obstacles or floating parts, bounce off, and rotate wildly.

You can experiment a lot, for example, with so-called connectors threading individual parts on a kind of electrical cord and detaching them from a freighter with a strong pull. Or you blow up a fuel tank with a laser cutter and save yourself a lot of manual work but risk a credit deduction if valuable parts hop off in the process.

Among the most delicate components are the ship’s reactors. For one thing, their radiation is lethal. If you get too close, your gauge will blur, and your health will drop. On the other hand, you have to dispose of a reactor that has been plucked out professionally as quickly as possible. Otherwise, its core will melt away. That’s why planning is everything, and you should, above all, clear a sufficiently large entrance to maneuver the reactor block out of the ship and into the freighter quickly.

Your ship. Your way.
It’s your decision whether you dismantle a ship carefully and deliver every piece of the puzzle dutifully or saw it up wildly and sometimes accept credit deductions. Such situations are exciting and intense, but Hardspace: Shipbreaker also burdens you with repetitive grunt work: cut/blast, sort, recycle, start over. So you can play however you want.

Depending on the difficulty and settings, you also have a limited supply of suit fuel and, most importantly, oxygen. Therefore you have to float back to a maintenance station to refuel regularly. We became more and more daring during testing and often drove to the gas station with our last breath.

Occasionally, you will find oxygen bottles, medikits, and repair kits for your tools in wrecking ships. You will also come across decorative objects such as posters or plush rabbits for your living container from time to time.

In the toilet
Your credits bar will fill up whenever you dispose of ship parts correctly. In career mode, this bar has several sections. Each filled segment gives you additional employee points (= experience points) and coins for upgrades. In career mode, you play your way up to level 30. However, that is a long way. Depending on how you play, you work on it for 20 to 30 hours.

However, relatively little happens when upgrading equipment in your spartan living container. The improvements mainly affect the technical data of your handful of tools – such as more range or durability for your grappling hook or more oxygen capacity for your helmet. The incoming radio calls or text messages from your buddies and superiors are also generic and irrelevant, and the exploitative gags wear off quickly. The developers ran out of ideas here.

Little trappings
In the free game, you can choose your desired wrecking ship directly. However, there is only a handful of different variations at release, and most ships are not complex either. However, a new ship type is added to disassemble every few levels.

There is no real multiplayer mode. For example, the interior is procedurally generated, but you don’t disassemble Star Destroyers à la Star Wars. As a third mode, there is a new challenge regularly, in which you have to dismantle a given ship quickly and efficiently to compete at the top of the online rankings.

The great strength of Hardspace: Shipbreaker lies clearly in the demolition work itself, less in a motivating career with new game elements or real surprises.

Hard space: Shipbreaker is one of those games that you either totally love – or shrug off. Even those who love space simulations will not automatically have fun here! Because the processes are repeated soon and sometimes work out, the game lacks real surprises and unforeseen events. But if you like tinkering, experimenting, dismantling, and sorting on the most accessible level of difficulty, you will experience an unusual simulation here. The freedom to try out different tactics and the slightly oppressive, very well staged space atmosphere make it so appealing. I noticed just how much the game occupied me when I went for a walk: when I walked under a bridge,