Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition Game Poster Image
Comic-styled sci-fi strategy suffers from repetitive play.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Most of the game is simply taking on specific contracts, exploring for resources, equipment, and the like. Players can utilize teamwork between party characters as a strategic element, but it's not much different than any other strategic RPG (role-playing game) tactics.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Player can choose their characters' classes, names, etc., but these are basically just blank templates. Even class roles are simply a matter of certain basic stat bonuses, as most of the equipment and corresponding cards aren't class specific.

Ease of Play

Basic gameplay is relatively simple to play, with players picking moves from whatever cards are drawn at a given time. The complexity comes in choosing equipment that balances out stats with those that add the right combination of cards to each character's available deck.

Violence

Turn-based combat is a core component of the gameplay. The results of the combat are show onscreen as comic book style panels. There's some blood (both human and alien) shown, but nothing overly graphic or gory.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some contracts are picked up in seedy, futuristic bars, advertising "synthetic drinks."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition is a sci-fi themed strategic role-playing game available for download on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows-based PCs. Players take on the role of a band of space faring mercenaries taking on contracts to explore abandoned ships drifting through space. The game's controls are simple to pick up and play, though there's a lot of micromanagement for equipment and action cards. Violence is a core component of the game, with turn-based combat between players' teams and enemies taking place on a regular basis. Actions are presented in a comic book style with some blood shown on the panels but no graphic or extreme depictions of violence. Some conversations in the game take place in a bar, complete with characters drinking alcohol (or a synthetic version of it).

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What's it about?

DEEP SKY DERELICTS: DEFINITIVE EDITION is a strategic role-playing adventure game (RPG) set in a space age dystopia. What's left of humanity has been split into two distinct classes: citizens who want for nothing and stateless exiles struggling to get by. You and your squad of mercenaries are outcasts, exploring drifting alien stations and abandoned spacecraft, surviving off whatever contracts you can negotiate and whatever you can scavenge. You'll fight against other scrappers, alien creatures, and other foes as you make your way through each derelict in search of your next payday. But when rumors circulate about an ancient alien artifact hidden in the dark recesses of space, you and your team see a ticket to citizenship and to a much better life. At least it could be a better life, but only if you survive the experience.

Is it any good?

The original game hit more than a year ago for PC gamers to a mixed reception. Now, Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition has made its way to consoles, complete with a number of updates and downloadable content meant add more to the content while improving the overall experience. The gameplay is a mix of dungeon crawler and card game mechanics. Each piece of equipment gives characters a stat boost and adds different action cards to their individual decks. There's a lot of strategy in finding just the right balance of cards, stats, and abilities to deal with whatever might be lurking around the corner.

While this package is the most complete way to dive into the deep space scavenging adventure, there are still a number of shortcomings that make this edition feel less than "definitive." For starters, it's nearly impossible not to fall into a rut of repetition. There's not much to distinguish one contract from another. There are occasional environmental variables that can tweak certain elements of gameplay, but you still can't help but feel like you're just going through the motions. Also, since each derelict is randomly generated, the difficulty curve has more rises and dips than a theme park roller coaster. And due to the fact that each playthrough is its own entity, there's no carry over of any experience if players have to start over, adding to that feeling of deep space déjà vu. The result is that Deep Sky Derelicts: Definitive Edition will appeal to a certain kind of strategy RPG fan, but many other gamers will prefer a different kind of adventure in space.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about strategy in gaming. What are some of the things that turn based strategy games can offer to gamers over more reflex-based action games?

  • How can different art and cinematic styles help to convey a story to the audience? How can artistic style emphasize or tone down certain content?

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