PAX South 2019: The Day We Fought Space

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The Day We Fought Space

The Day We Fought Space is a tactile spaceship shooter for iOS from Tursiops Truncatus Studios. Now, I’m not a huge fan of mobile games. A lot of the time the simplicity is boring to me and I end up getting bored after a level. I’m excited to say that no one will have that problem with The Day We Fought Space.

The game is extremely immersive that takes full advantage of your handheld devices. This wreck ’em up is more than just shooting other ships and dodging their shots. With dozens of unique ships and even more unique weapons, there are so many mechanics to learn and different ways to engage you.

At PAX South 2019, where I demoed the game, I was upfront with my usual dislike of mobile games. So, they chose a simple starter ship to show me the ropes and ultimately get me excited. The ship I played, in the beginning, had just one forward blast that sprayed continually. In my head I thought, well this is simple. Then the woman working the booth showed me that I could not only direct where the shots were going by moving my ship on the left-hand side but by pinching and releasing on the right-hand side, I could widen or narrow out my fire. In that simple yet fully tactile action, my simple ship turned into one with range and more skill.

The game started with traditional expectations of the genre and then broke the traditions. With each new ship, I chose to play as I was able to see how much involvement this game called for and I was excited to find new weapons to master. From a ship with a wrecking ball that you shoot out and pull back in, a melee ship that needs to get right next to its enemies and use it’s spinning wheel to attack, and then a plasma talon with a tentacle-like plasma weapons that you swing around, the two-handed control scheme made the most of the mobile platform.

Having only played 4 different ships, there is so much more to explore. And if the extremely tactile controls weren’t enough, the physics-powered combat experience adds another level of involvement to the experience. If ships are transporting rocks at the top of the screen you can cause a chain reaction by destroying them, causing rocks to fall on the ships below. Once you realize this, you end up planning out how to maximize the destruction — putting you into the perfect mindset for a wreck ’em up.

The game has 4 diverse worlds, all of which have their own environmental challenges that disrupt your gameplay and cause you to think things through. The amount of thought such a simple game takes is something that I’m looking for when it comes to mobile games.

You can also upgrade and customize your ships for an even more personal experience. Although I didn’t get too much of the story, Catherine Kimport, the game’s designer and programmer, was present to explain the basics to me. In the game, you are fighting space in order to reclaim your home star system from alien colonists. The story is propelled through procedurally-generated missions that will cause you to react and adapt to the situations.

Every piece of the gameplay keeps you engaged and the highly stylized artwork is also something to love. Each world has it’s own backdrop, that when paired with the font choice and the ship weapons, you feel like your in a Barbarella comic. I have to give the art from Susan Schaffer a big high five. The design and programming from Kimport come together with these backdrops to give you an amazing handheld experience.

It’s clear that the vision behind The Day We Fought Space is a mobile game that puts engagement first and utilizes retro-futurism in such a great way that it almost feels like a motion comic.

The only cons to the game are that with such a wide range of weapons, you need to be okay with not succeeding on your first run. However, the intuitive tactile play helps ease the learning curve.

Overall, The Day We Fought Space is a highly tactile mobile wreck ’em up game that brings the player into a sci-fi pulp comic for dynamic destruction. If you have iOS, I definitely suggest you keep an eye out for this title.

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