Parents' Guide to

Next Space Rebels

By Angelica Guarino, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Wacky rocket simulator has some preachy activist messages.

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A Lot or a Little?

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

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There's a lot going on in this rocket simulation game, between launching rockets and balancing activism. Initially, it’s pretty jarring to realize that Next Space Rebels is trying to merge together essentially three different games, but over time, it gets easier to settle into. The rhythm of rocket-building, video-posting, and constantly checking your messages for updated tech and challenges begins to feel natural, and as the rocket-building becomes more advanced than simply adding a few extra parts to your beginner rocket kit, there's excitement about what's possible. After countless failed builds and a Google search history full of questions about jet propulsion engines you never thought you'd have to ask, the feeling of finally beating a tough design challenge is unmatched. The in-game design software is also very user-friendly. Not only is everything organized in a way that makes it easy to find, but the speed at which players can make a rocket, test it, and immediately come back to the drawing board if their plans don't work out is impressive. This is a key element that really helps keep players invested and reinforces that there are no consequences for a failed idea.

The weak spot lies in its storytelling. Pretty early on, the player will be introduced to an activist group that aims to raise awareness about the privatization of space programs by billionaires. While this issue is all too relevant now, the game's commentary about this can feel preachy at times. Seemingly small decisions such as agreeing to a video sponsorship will cause characters to bring the ethics of this decision to the forefront, which feels confusing and out-of-place. It's one thing to start a conversation about potential ethical problems with income inequality or privately owning scientific advances which have, in the past, been part of publicly-funded programs. But there's an ominous, borderline accusatory undertone throughout the story that can make players feel like all of their choices (i.e. to join or not join Next Space Rebels or whether to exchange messages with underage fans on StarTube even though you are an adult) are always going to be wrong. All of that said, though, it's up to the player to put that aside. If players can manage that, it's worth it to enjoy just how much fun launching a rocket made out of tin cans, discarded toys, and way too much rocket fuel can be.

Game Details

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