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Hardspace: Shipbreaker preview: a relaxing deconstruction

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Plenty of games focus on gathering resources and building, but it’s rare to find the ones that actually encourage methodical dismantling. Alas, this is where Hardspace: Shipbreaker comes in. Blackbird Interactive and Focus Home Interactive focus this title on spaceships and precise destruction. The game made its official debut on Steam early access June 16.

It seems easy, but cutting out heavy metals requires more finesse in zero gravity.

Unlike games that make players gather, build and create to their hearts’ delight, Shipbreaker is an adventure in deconstruction that is both fun and somewhat zenlike. In the world of Shipbreaker, the Earth is a barren planet where space has been massively colonized. Rather than living in condensed squalor, a large corporation called Lynx offers the less fortunate career opportunities in carefully dismantling ships for salvage.

The work is difficult and dangerous, but once you sign your work contract you’re in the hole for a billion credits so what else are you gonna do?

You cutter tools will be your best friend, but they require precision.

The gameplay for Shipbreaker on its face is simple: pull apart ships, make cash. However, it has far more nuance than what first meets the eye. Engineers have an array of tools at their behest, but they’re limited in quality and capacity. Smaller parts like antennas could be easily pulled by hand, but heavier bulkhead scraps need heftier tethers and upgraded grapple hooks.

Different ships are available with a variety of challenges.

Part of the real fun behind the game is when it lets you just explore your options. Learning how to turn in zero-G space while using a variety of cutter tools is fun and even a touch relaxing. Shipbreaker is certainly not afraid to let players learn on their own. It lets you laser singe your way through ships but when you blow yourself up from a pressurized cabin cut, you get to rack up more debt for being reanimated, courtesy of Lynx.

The game feels equal parts Freedom Wars and calmly anti-Minecraft. Disassembling and expertly parsing ships becomes more complex as players grow more confident in their practice. The challenge stacks up as work orders come with time limits, as well as constraints from your dated equipment. The faster you can tear apart ships and fulfill objectives, the better the rewards to make your tools and timing better.

Of course, the game isn’t without its early access shortcomings. Some audio bugs can hangover from mission restarts, but this is generally resolved with a reset. There are some modes that are not yet rolled out, as well as additional missions and leaderboards for future release.

It’s a solid start for a surprisingly addicting game. Hardspace: Shipbreaker is currently available on Steam for PC for $19.99, with future plans to release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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About the author

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Christen Bejar

Christen Bejar is a freelance gaming writer who started the local blog The Pause Button while studying at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. For Nerdvana, Bejar reviews video games and also previews, recaps and photographs many local events from a gamer's perspective.

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