Parents' Guide to

Hardspace: Shipbreaker

By David Chapman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Space salvage is a tough job, but someone's got to do it.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker packshot

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What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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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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