Hyperspace Delivery Service

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Zotnip
Release Date: June 5, 2019

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PC Review - 'Hyperspace Delivery Service'

by Fran Soto on Oct. 2, 2019 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Oregon Trail in space but with more trading/resource management and Create Your Own Adventure elements.

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be part of a professional space delivery crew, have we got the game for you! Do your part and sign up for Hyperspace Delivery Service to see sights, sounds, and asteroids hurtling toward us at alarming speeds.

Developer Zotnip sends us back in time with a futuristic take on The Oregon Trail, which many of us remember rage-quitting back in the day. Unlike those times in the Wild West, Hyperspace Delivery Service uses similar mechanics to bring us space disasters that would be common on our delivery runs. Players encounter everything from avoiding space debris to getting captured by robot space pirates. Stock up on necessary gear and equipment to survive the harshness of space.


HDS doesn't try to reinvent the wheel; it uses the basic mechanics we've known for decades and crunchy numbers. Newer mechanics have been incorporated, but it still feels familiar to veteran players. HDS's only drawback is that it is a single-player experience with a select handful of randomized events that don't provide much gameplay depth beyond 15-20 hours of play time. There are permanent fixtures within the game to serve the (light) narrative. HDS is an incredibly charming, old-school number cruncher that achieves what it sets out to do, and that's simulate the headache of working on a space delivery crew.

Inter-planetary delivery is actually a fairly lucrative business. Yes, accidents happen — like getting kidnapped or having to maneuver through rips in the time-space continuum — but that's all part of an exciting work environment! Players assume the role as captain of a trade ship contracted to deliver cargo to Meridian V across the galaxy. If we deliver the cargo successfully, we get paid. If we arrive earlier, there might even be a bonus added, but arriving late means no pay and potentially a fine, so we must work with time constraints. This means having to calculate how many days it can take to reach certain planets and how many resources are needed.

We start out on Rnarsem Phlan and must linearly jump from planet to planet to reach Meridian V: 24 hyperspace jumps over the span of 400 days. HDS does all the calculations for us and assures us if we do need to restock on food or other materials. Each planet is fleshed out, with some light lore that explains its socio-economic climate. These attributes greatly affect market values for resupplying resources. If we find ourselves stranded with no money and unable to accumulate enough minimum resources for our next hyperjump, the game gives us the option to contract ourselves and work for resources at the cost of precious time and money. The game adds even more layers to the delivery crew fantasy, as we can also pick up side jobs, like transporting passengers or undertaking exploration missions. These little gigs can also yield important resources for our journey. It's pleasant details like these that give the title a surprising amount of depth when coupled with RNG.


With that in mind, RNG can be a fickle thing, since our deliveries never go as planned. There is a plethora of random events that can occur as we travel from planet to planet: a crew member may get the Telunian Flu, space pirates may hunt us down, we may make a pit stop to help a ship in distress, and much more. Each of these scenarios can yield multiple results, from casualties to monetary gain. Many of the events can be solved by selecting options on the screen with varying outcomes. For example, we have a few different ways to help a distressed ship. We could send a crew member aboard, but that means putting one of our own in an unknown situation. Could this be a trap? Can we tow the ship? Will setting up a comm link have the same effect? There are many ways to solve a situation, and they each affect our numbers positively or negatively.

HDS also utilizes minigames to give more gameplay other than watching the screen move without you (similar to Oregon Trail's shooting minigames). Normally, we embark on our journey, and players oversee the bridge with a window view of space like it's a Windows '98 screen saver. Certain events transpire where we may need to go on a rescue mission or explore an abandoned ship for cargo. The game takes a very old-school approach and uses a retro first-person shooter format similar to DOOM. We are able to take weapons with us and select a crew member to go on the mission. Each crew member has their own stats with some perks or disadvantages. Maybe a crew member may find more loot, but they have a lower defense. These are useful when crawling through derelict ships and also flesh out NPCs to be more than generic pieces.

In the event of a space fight, we will assume control of the ship and bring out the big guns. This dog-fighting mechanic is based on pitch, power and thrust gameplay that is typically seen in jet-fighting games. It's a fun element that allows us to defend ourselves and is utilized in exploring and collecting materials in space. These ship controls and first-person shooter scenarios are the only major action we see where the player can take control. It gives the player a break from number-crunching so they can do something else, but it's not necessarily the main element within the game.


After 30 hours of play time, I finally learned that HDS is more about capitalizing on being a merchant and playing the economics. Being able to buy intel on planets we have not yet seen allows the player to play the markets with buying and selling. Which planet has the cheapest materials? That's where we'll buy what we need. Do we have an excess? It sells for higher on the next planet. Interestingly enough, this is the mechanic that makes the game more than just "Oregon Trail in Space." Living in a universe of advanced technology and traversal would eventually be a world of buying and selling. It's a great example of gameplay representing subject matter.

Hyperspace Delivery Service is a charming, retro-inspired experience. Pixel graphics and chill synth tunes create a solid package for a game that wants to bring back a familiar experience. If you're looking for a high-energy space adventure, this may not be for you. The game isn't trying to be that, either. Instead, it seeks to expand on the genre of item management and economy gameplay with a dash of active gameplay. Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I keep going back HDS with glee, despite repeatedly failing hard mode with permadeath. It's a title that one can pick up and put back down again and again. Anyone searching for an ever-changing story won't find that with HDS. There is a set story, with set destinations, and set themes for each planet. The only difference between playthroughs are the randomized events that occur, but the title provides ample experience for its price, and then some. If you're looking for a chill crunchy game to spend some time with, consider signing on to Hyperspace Delivery Service.

Score: 8.0/10



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