A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The game's plot features elements of friendship and teamwork. The story also features heavy themes of workers' safety and rights over corporate demands.
Positive Role Models
The players' co-workers tend to be friendly and professional, looking out for one another as a team. Other characters fall on the other end of the spectrum, disregarding others' welfare for the sake of profit or their own well-being.
The game has a fairly diverse cast of characters in terms of gender, ethnicity, and sexual preference. They are presented in a realistic manner, not falling into any stereotypes.
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Ease of Play
Recovering salvage from derelict spaceships while in a zero gravity environment requires a lot of precision and patience. Unexpected hazards frequently pop up that can complicate even seemingly simple missions.
Violence & Scariness
The game redefines what would be considered a hazardous workplace, whether it's being crushed by debris, getting hit with lethal radiation, or getting caught in a explosive chain reaction. Death is temporary though, with players simply respawning to complete or restart their assignment with a monetary penalty.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a downloadable science fiction salvage simulation game available on Xbox Series, PlayStation 5, and Windows. In it, players join an offworld salvage company tasked with recovering valuable parts scavenged from derelict spaceships. The game features a campaign story that focuses largely on themes of worker safety and rights versus a corporation's desire for profit. The cast is a relatively diverse group, made up of various ages, genders, ethnicities, etc. While there's no onscreen blood or gore, there are plenty of lethal hazards players can run into during salvage operations. Despite this, players are simply resurrected by technology upon death, then sent back out to continue their job.
Is It Any Good?
Salvage work can be dangerous enough, but salvage work in deep space? That's the premise behind the sci-fi job simulator, Hardspace: Shipbreaker. The game has a story driven campaign mode, which follows your introduction to an established salvage crew as you work off your massive debt to the corporation that hired you. It's an interesting story with some heavy handed messages about workplace safety, worker's rights, unionization, and corporate greed. Learning about the Hardspace world through the blue collar lens of the crew is entertaining, though predictable. There aren't any major surprises that you can't see coming light years away. The game also has a freeplay mode that lets you explore and salvage derelict ships to your heart's content. Even with the hazards and tension that come with the job, there's something oddly cathartic about floating in zero gravity, surrounded by the stars, taking apart ships like giant jigsaw puzzles.
While the look and the feel of the environment of Hardspace: Shipbreaker seems relaxing, the actual gameplay is anything but. What starts off as a simple cut here and pull there quickly becomes a complex series of precision and well-timed movements required to keep things from, quite literally, blowing up in your face. The game does a decent job of walking you though the early moments, but eventually it stops holding your hand and leaves you on your own to figure things out. Unfortunately, this is about the time that things start to get more repetitive, without a lot of variety in the tasks at hand. Eventually, what started off as an almost meditative series of tasks starts to feel like more and more of a grind, less relaxing and more like the monotony of a regular job.
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