Just in its name, Space Pioneer immediately conjures up an undeniable sense of awe and spectacle. There’s a feeling that you’re going to be embarking on an epic journey of discovery as you take your first steps on one of many exotic planets. Space Pioneer certainly has a whole bunch of planets to explore, but the only feeling you’re going to be getting here is one of increasing boredom thanks to the game’s repetitive nature right off the bat.
Space Pioneer is a twin-stick shooter through and through. Each level effectively takes place on a different planet and sees you taking on wave after wave of various enemies whilst accomplishing several task objectives at the same time. These mostly comprise of collecting bombs, destroying nests, escorting travellers, and defeating boss creatures. The game features twelve chapters, with each chapter containing up to eight planets, the final of which housing a formidable boss to take down. You can tackle the game on your own or with up to three additional players, with the game featuring a rudimentary class system to accommodate this.
The core gameplay is pretty decent for the most part. The twin-stick shooting feels great – every weapon is effective in its own way, and they all feature a cool-down mechanic which eliminates the need to locate additional bullets. You’ll also have grenades and healing items at your disposal, both of which feature a longer cool-down that will often leave you open to attack if you’re not careful. Unfortunately, very early on in the game, you’ll start noticing the same enemy types, the same planet designs, and the same objective cropping up over and over again, and the solid gameplay simply cannot hold its own against the overwhelming feeling of repetition.
The progression system is surprisingly quite deep, but is also anchored by coin collecting and loot boxes. As you complete objectives within the game, you’ll be rewarded with a bunch of coins, and these can then be spent levelling up various stats like armour and weapon damage, along with perks such as ‘berserk’, which increases your attack damage when your health falls below a certain percentage. Loot boxes feature quite prominently but are only tied to optional objectives and trophies, so thankfully you won’t be gambling any of your hard-earned cash for these.
There’s a lot of potential within Space Pioneer that is unfortunately largely squandered by its repetitive nature. Once you’re done with one chapter, it really feels like you’ve seen it all, despite another eleven lying ahead of you. Its core gameplay really is a lot of fun, and our hope would be that if a sequel is developed, this is backed up by an engaging story and meaningful objectives.