Hyperspace Delivery Service – I Make It So
Hyperspace Delivery Service
When I was younger, my sister and I would crowd around one of those cheap Mac computers in our mother’s classroom and play Oregon Trail. Even today, my sister is still in love with it, to the point where I got her a portable version of the original game. So when I heard about this game Hyperspace Delivery Service that’s like a space-themed Oregon Trail, it piqued my interest.
Hyperspace Delivery Service is a simulation adventure game created by Zotnip, who has also worked on a game known as Bik – A Space Adventure. Though it looks like a simple Oregon Trail, it carries more layers with not only fully controllable space battles but DOOM-style FPS sections as well.
And hey, there’s a permadeath mode if you prefer whips in your intimate life.
Today marks the beginning of a brilliant journey! In my ship, the Freelancer, me, the dashing and intelligent Freelance7, and my crew, Communications Officer Buhhh, Security Officer Luhh, Engineering Officer Kurrrrr, Helm Officer Iduhh, Science Officer Aeeeeee, and Crewman Heweeeeeeed, are setting off towards the planet of Miridian V, where we shall be delivering some cargo. The journey will be a tough one, but I’m sure me and my crew will make the trip in one piece!
Starting off, Hyperspace Delivery Service presents you with the story and several spaces to type in names for your crew, as well as give them their appearances. As you can see, I only gave them names and looks that fit with their occupations. The graphics are half and half. Half is your standard pixelated look, while the other half is low poly 3D objects, and these two halves mix together rather nicely, providing a rather retro-looking aesthetic that reminds me of games like Space Quest and Elite.
The creativity of the art style comes to play when looking at the various ways your crewmen can look. You have your basic humanoid shapes, then aliens where that shape is morphed in some way, and then you get into the truly strange and otherworldly looks.
Getting into the story, it is simple. The first character you meet is a robot that’s just there to give you a briefing. Their dialogue had hints of humor that fit in well with the tone this game was going for. And so, I was given my objective: to get to Miridian V. I have 380 days to finish this delivery, and 23 planets between the current planet I’m on, and the planet I will finish my journey at.
Once the briefing is over you are given the lowdown on what is going on and how things will go from here. Hyperspace Delivery Service seems to function a lot like Oregon Trail, where you have your people and your supplies, the latter of which dwindle as you travel, rest, or wait.
Then you are put on your ship, with a layout similar to the command deck in Star Trek ships, where you get to see all of your crew in action in their busy tasks. On this screen, you have six tabs: Navigation, Communication, Supplies, Store, Ship, and Crew. Navigation is for traveling between planets, Comms is for missions, trades, hints and even little tidbits of information that passing travelers will give you, Supplies are for checking on your resources, Store is for loading up on resources, Ship is for managing engine use and repairs, and Crew is for managing all the men in your crew.
So while looking at my communications, given to me by my kind colleague, Buhhh, I had the sudden urge to fall asleep. When I woke up, I found that we had already wasted a single day. The humanity! How will I make up for this! The Company will surely have my hide if I don’t get my act together! From now on, we move! But first, some supplies.
In my moment of stupidity, I decided to take a look at the Supplies and the Store. They work like those in Oregon Trail: you have money, and use that money to get more stuff. The layouts of these menus are well done; spaced correctly and aren’t complex in their purchasing methods like some can be, especially to people who hate numbers, like myself, so it wasn’t too hard to figure out what I needed for the trip ahead of me, even if the prices change per planet. You get what you need rather easily, and you go.
Okay, now it’s time to get serious, bustah wolf style.
WE HAVE BEEN ATTACKED! Space pirates were surrounding us, blocking our only way out! With the crew at my hand and the space wind (space wind?) at my back, we went to battle, disposing of the threat after a long and arduous fight. My crew sustained very minor injuries, but the damage to my ship, my Freelancer, was significant. The supplies we had purchased have helped bring it back to near-perfect shape, but it took all that we had. We called upon the nearest supply ship to see if they could provide more, but alas, they held nothing. We thanked them for their service and went on our way. My heart is still beating in the rib cage of my chest from the prior tussle, but we must forge ahead.
On our way to the next planet, we got attacked by Space Pirates, thrusting us into the game’s ship combat. At first, I had no idea what I was doing, and to be honest the control scheme for this mode is a little odd, especially on a controller. It was obvious these segments were meant to be played on PC.
When in space combat, you are presented with a first-person view of the fight, where you are given full control of your ship, being able to maneuver around, dodging laser blasts and aligning your sights until they cross over the hull of your enemy’s ship. The low poly 3D does make it harder to see, and it can get irritating during segments where you have to search for things in the midst of an asteroid field. Thankfully, they also provided a map in the corner that lets you know what’s ahead of you and what’s around you.
It was tough, but once I finally emerged victorious, I was brought to the repair screen, where I set how many parts (and of which kind) I wanted to expend to repair my ship, and then go over some mini-game where I had to time my presses so that the meter is full for the best effects. Sadly, most of my repair parts went into fixing up my ship, but there is a supply ship option for on-the-go shopping. Sadly, their stock can be severely limited, and contain no repair parts.
And then you get a good look at your ship. One detail I admire greatly is the amount of visual damage your ship takes, which is dependent on the health you have. Scratches, dents, and blast marks can be seen within your command room, showing how much the recent battle roughed up your vessel, as well as the hyper radiation that bombards it when traveling. This hyper radiation will also damage your ship crew, which will eventually force you to rest from time to time or use resources to get them up to top shape.
We have safely arrived at the planet of Isinnt. One of my crewmen, Kerrrr, has caught the Iti Fever, so we found him a doctor that treated his illness. With all my crew back to tip-top shape, I decided to take the time we have here to earn a bit more for the coming journey. Communications have given wind of a mission involving robots taking over a reactor. We sent in the man who we thought was best for the job, Science Officer Aeeeeee. And as it turns out, uh, he wasn’t the man for the job, coming back injured with an empty blaster and 42 credits on hand. It’s not much…but at least we got something, right?
Once we reached the next planet, the game introduced us to its backstory, giving us little bits of insight into the outpost we were staying at, which used to be under the control of a now-defunct development corporation but was taken over by locals to be turned into an independent trading station. Small bits of lore like this are welcome, especially considering how lost I feel in this strange universe.
Due to one of my crewmen being sick, I did not linger too long, and immediately called a doctor to get him cured, a task that can be accomplished through medkits, but it’s rare so I’d rather not waste the resources, of which I had to pay for more. All this money coming out of my pockets made me nervous due to the other 22 planets I had yet to traverse before reaching my ultimate goal, so I went to look for missions to do.
One showed up. Robots taking over a reactor, flooding the building with radiation. Once I had accepted it, I was asked to send one of my crew down to take it on and how much blaster ammo they would have on them. They made sure to remind me to choose wisely, as the radiation would actually damage my crewman continuously. Each of my men had their strengths, but the one I thought would be best for the job was the shield my science officer had.
And this is where we are introduced to the on-foot combat, where Hyperspace Delivery Service turns into a DOOM clone, including the weapon being front and center. Compared to the ship combat, I found this gameplay to be a bit lackluster. I was never excited during these shooting segments, and the music did nothing to help me as I barely registered it in my head.
The only enemies I’ve encountered in these segments were robots, of which there are only around four different kinds. It would’ve been fun to have them blow up upon being killed, but they instead limply fall to the floor in bits. In the end, I wasn’t able to finish the mission, but I had found 42 credits lying around, so I didn’t come back empty-handed.
Of course, combat missions aren’t the only way to earn money. You can trade, accept people onto your ship as passengers, scan the planets for abandoned materials, extract fuel from the local star, or even offer your labor to receive supplies if the going gets tough. They don’t leave you hanging in case things begin to look bleak.
ONE OF MY MEN HAVE BEEN CREWNAPPED! My communications officer, BUHHH, was taken from my ship, from right under my nose! I was beside myself with worry but did not fret for too long. We had to rescue BUHHH! He was located somewhere on the planet of Pinto, so I sent my best man, Security Officer Luhh, for the rescue attempt! And thank the stars above, he came back with the communications officer under his arm! With my crewman back, we did a few odd jobs and were well on our way to Miridian, even if my supplies seem to be running low…
As I came to the planet of Pinto, we got a prompt explaining that one of my men had just been taken, and I had to send someone down to rescue him. Along the journey, you come across more and more random encounters like this, some of which can link up to previous choices you made. For example, a passenger I picked up on one planet actually met up with another ship halfway to the next planet and stole 7 of my missiles.
That is only one of many that I experienced in Hyperspace Delivery Service. Sometimes they’ll give you options to consider, other times they’ll engage you in the gameplay. They always try to make sure you’re involved, no matter what happens, which is a good way to keep the player engaged. However, the results of these encounters can fall on the side of milquetoast. When it comes to games like this, I enjoy them explaining everything that happens along the way. In that one encounter, I had 7 of my missiles stolen, but in another where I sent my security officer to offer assistance, I just got some prompt saying, “You couldn’t offer assistance.” and that was the end of it. It will always be a random chance, which is fine, but I’d also like to know what would affect that chance to serve better in my direction, and more of an explanation than just, “You couldn’t do it.”
It has been more than half an Earth year since we began our journey, and it has been an exciting one. Today we arrived at the planet Altemontart, where we found an odd job scanning space-time disturbances for Worm Hole Studies. When it came to scanning, my crew gave me two options: a high-intensity scan or a low-intensity scan. I had no idea what either of those meant, so I used a high-intensity scan on every wormhole! THE HIGHER THE INTENSITY THE BETTER, is what I always say and it always works for the best…well, except for when it damaged my ship, but that’s unimportant. Anyway, we got our money, and are now making our way towards Marim.
Continuing from my previous point, I’ve noticed another problem that has surfaced when it comes to making decisions. In most choice-making segments, they give you three to four choices, usually each pertaining to a method you can use in the situation. Sometimes, they’ll tell you a little warning about what you are about to do, but sometimes they just don’t exactly give you much in the way of information when you are making these decisions. For example, the difference between high-intensity scans and low-intensity scans aren’t very apparent. I used high-intensity and nothing else because it sounded like the better option. It’s not that I want them to explain the consequences before I make my decision, more like a brief description of what they do so I can make better-informed decisions than just throw caution to the wind with them like they’re bubbles in a voting ballot.
My heart has a profound sadness pitted deep within it. Our Crewman, Heweeeeeeed, has passed away due to the Iti Fever. Truly, the vastness of space has not been kind to us, and for my ignorance, we have suffered. I wish I could take his place, but that was never meant to be. We will keep going, in honor of our fallen comrade. May he rest among the stars.
The game’s music, for the most part, helped keep the tone the exact way they wanted it to be. Overall the game has a calming soundtrack that utilizes synthesized music to bring you these out-of-this-world sounds, whether it be a mellow, yet fun track describing your relief as you made it to your next destination or the waves of music representing the vastness of space that permeates within the hull of your ship on long treks. However, I feel like it can be almost too calm, and some tracks don’t properly convey the gravity of the situation. When you arrive at a planet, they’ll play these tracks that give off relief and curiosity befitting the nature of space exploration, but during ship battles, you’re fighting off space pirates to what can be described as space blues, which was so slow and insignificant that I could barely tell it was there, where it should be something with a higher pace, a faster beat to represent the tense circumstances of combat. And it’s only during those tense segments that the problems with the game’s calming soundtrack come to light.
When we first began this journey, we were all bright, enthusiastic, and excited for the adventure that awaited us. We were filled with hope. However, that hope has long been gone since the passing of our Heweeeeeeeeed. This wasn’t supposed to happen. We were all going to make it to Miridian V, and we were all supposed to make it. To cheer at the bar with our cups full of beer. But now that our dear Crewman has left us, it all just seems like a dream. One that we will never be able to attain. So what’s left of my crew and I sit here and eat this soup, this…delicious soup, and realize that we don’t have enough time to finish what we started. Our journey was for naught, and we will be punished for it. May these recordings be a warning to those wanting to go off on their own adventures. May this keep you alive longer than it did my friend Heweeeeeeeeeed.
Hyperspace Delivery Service is difficult. I was on Medium and, even doing the best I could, I failed in my given task. The game puts you through hell and back, making you play these segments of shooting and flying, all the while you manage your crew to make sure they all make it out alive. As you go on you realize that it’s just gonna be this, for a long while. And as I sit there, on the sixteenth planet, realizing that I’m going to fail, I just think about how tiring it all was. Not even the fun kind of tiring, just tiring. And the references to things I like didn’t help either.
Hyperspace Delivery Service has a fantastic art style, and it tries to be Oregon Trail really hard, but it just doesn’t reach that goal. Its decent writing is only just that: decent, with most of its encounters taken from popular sci-fi media. And at the price it’s asking, I just don’t see this game worth getting when there are several other Oregon Trail like games, including space-themed ones, that do the job better and at a cheaper price. Because sure, it’s an Oregon Trail with depth, but the depth it provides is lackluster and non-comparable to the games it’s trying to be inspired from.
Overall, if you are really into Oregon Trail games and are heavily interested in Hyperspace Delivery Service, then I say wait for a sale.
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Reviewed by Freelance7 for the Nintendo Switch. Code provided by Zotnip Studio.