It takes a brave studio to develop a game exclusively for one console. Add to that the brawn to implement a game with a gameplay style that is rarely approached by other developers. Danish developer KnapNok have crafted an atmospheric and innovative title to boost an ever growing indie library for Wii U. In terms of influences, Affordable Space Adventures is a delicious cocktail of The Swapper, Fallout, Alien and Wall-E.
You are invited to explore an uncharted space station that evokes the mystery of the Nebulus around each corner. It’s beautiful to look at, just like Alien was, but also keeps us on a knife’s edge. Threat lurks intensely as you guide your budget spacecraft around a hostile environment. Robot drones litter pathways that must be passed by discretely or it’s one shot kill territory for you. This means that stealth is key and it’s with this gameplay mechanic that the GamePad comes into fruition. Using the GamePad controls your ships two engines. Both have thrusts but varied appliances. The fuel engine has a stabiliser and a mass generator while the electric engine adopts an anti-gravity and decelerator system. Each must be carefully altered to suit traversing various locations. This adds strategic depth to solving head scratching puzzles. It’s a robust system that gives players creative control. However, Affordable Space Adventures can be extremely frustrating. I ran into some situations where I felt luck played more of a part than my own skill. These moments can suck the fun out of playing the game, but they are few and far between.
Persistence through these frustrations will eventually lead you to appreciate what a unique game Affordable Space Adventures is. Stunning lighting and outstanding sound design really encapsulates a sense of isolation. Unnerving sound cues from dormant robots and sonic booms deliver unexpected surprises with panache. Exploration is limited and there are no collectibles which is a shame, but it means the developers concentrate on delivering a taut experience that is all about atmosphere and forward progression.
Much of your time will be taken by looking down at the GamePad to alter your ships systems. Affordable Space Adventures is the definitive second screen experience the Wii U has been craving. It works brilliantly and acts as flagship precedent for future games that look to fully utilise the GamePad as a compulsory tool. KnapNok games have outdone themselves with packing as many uses as possible for the GamePad, but that’s not the only Wii U feature they’ve brilliantly exploited. Miiverse also gets a much needed boost in support. Affordable Space Adventures finishes with a brilliant endnote that will make you thankful for Miiverse. A last minute integration with Nintendo’s online network service is another original stamp from the developers that will have you replaying the last moments of the game again and again.
Affordable Space Adventures is out now Wii U