Imagine if you will that your home world is gone — blown to pieces by a stray asteroid. You watch in horror from a spaceship as your civilization is wiped out in a matter of seconds.
How do you survive such a traumatic event, both psychologically and physically?
Not very easily. The harsh environment is underscored through the limited nature of resources and the distance between hospitable planets, which in some parts of the universe is measured in light-years rather than miles.
Video games — like film and literature — are meant to capture the imagination of their audiences. RymdResa manages to succeed on this count, putting players in the situation of finding a new home in the cold, dead reaches of infinite space. The game is open to exploration in its, roguelike, procedurally generated 2D world. The reality of life in space is one of constant struggle on limited resources and potential catastrophe at the hands of space debris. It’s up to you to test things out and dare to take risks, even though they may not pay off — and many times they do not.
Resource management is a key aspect of RymdResa, which you can easily track at the bottom of the screen. Resources are depleted when using boosters to fly through space, when an object hits your spacecraft, or as a penalty for exploring a useless object such as a dead satellite. The game heavily pushes you towards exploration out of survival instinct. Failure to find more resources ultimately means death. But exploration has its rewards beyond just resources. You can also find space points, a form of in-game currency to buy things like new ships and research upgrades. On an even simpler level, RymdResa encourages you to venture beyond the mission area with its exotic-looking planets, beautiful art style and soothing music.
RymdResa does not feature any combat. It’s a non-violent game built around survival rather than conquest. The story is driven through audio logs of the astronaut at the start of every new year in space. There also is not a lot of customization involved aside from the few objects that you can pick up in space that can enhance your ship’s abilities.
Herein lies the problem. Once you have absorbed yourself in the experience and feel that you have seen most of what the game has to offer, there really is not much left to do. There are only so many planets that you can discover (you don’t actually get to land on them), items to collect, and audio logs to listen to before it starts to feel stale.
RymdResa feels more like a piece of interactive art than a video game. The simple nature of the game — while refreshing at first — is also a weakness; it is the lack of depth that will leave you bored. The novelty fades after a few hours meandering in an endless pursuit of resources.
RymdResa is not a game for everyone. If you are looking for an action-packed game then you should definitely look elsewhere. The most obvious target audiences are gamers who like space exploration and people interested in astronomy more generally. You do not, in fact, even need to be a gamer to appreciate the evocative art style and music.