PAXEast 2022 – Hardspace: Shipbreaker Impressions

In order to relax after a long hard day of work, do you envision loading up a video game where you get to perform menial tasks? What if those menial tasks involved you being in space and taking apart spaceships in order to get out of debt? That’s what Blackbird Interactive is here to offer you with Hardspace: Shipbreaker. Just you, your tools and dead spaceships begging to be torn apart as you drift above a desolate Earth.

In the distant future, the Earth is a barren wasteland and after taking out a massive loan, you find yourself in space. Your one and only goal is to pay off your debt. As you progress, you’ll earn money for carefully stripping ships down to upgrade and earn better tools. The better your tools, the tougher the ships you’ll be able to salvage.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker - Laser Cutter
<span style=color #808080 font size 12px>Images provided by Focus Entertainment<span>

In Space, No One Can Hear You Salvage.
At the Focus Entertainment booth, I was only able to use three tools. The laser cutter, the grappling gun and demolitions charges. I requested a ship that would be somewhat difficult to cut through and my rep loaded me into the game’s “Free Play” mode. In this mode, I was able to do what I wanted without having to worry about any repercussions for my actions.

There truly is something relaxing about Hardspace’s gameplay. It requests that you be detail oriented but you don’t necessarily have to if you don’t want to. You can scan the ship inside and out to see what tools work where as well as what parts of the ship are more sensitive than others. Taking the more methodical approach and stripping down a ship piece by piece will earn you the most money. The physics of space also have an effect on how you salvage a ship. Airlocks keep ships pressurized and reactors can explode.

While I played the game however, I did not take the careful path. Instead, I took a more destructive approach. Spending my first few minutes with the demo, I got the lay of the land first. While learning how to properly control my character, I cut rigs and panels off the ship then deposited them where they needed to go. Some parts needed to be torn off the brute force of the grappling gun, while others required a demo charge because my laser cutter wasn’t strong enough. Demo charges work on a grid and you need to carefully place them so as not to damage ship parts.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker - Grappler
<span style=font size 12px color #808080>Images provided by Focus Entertainment<span>

Watch Where You Put Those Demo Charges.
Then, I asked my representative what I needed to do next and we proceeded toward the rear of the ship. My goal was to blow the ship up. While it didn’t go down the way I wanted it to, it was still fun to do and I’m glad I got to see it happen in action.

First, we found the reactor at the rear of the ship and began stripping the exterior parts that kept it in place. My laser cutter was able to easily strip these pieces off, which players can discern by reading the information that pops when aiming at a part. The reactor was just on the other side of and when I got to it, I discovered my cutter would work on it. I’ll admit, I was excited to see how this would play and unfortunately, my hopes were not met. After firing at the reactor with my laser cutter, it simply dissolved and I lost millions of dollars.

My rep also seemed disappointed in the lack of an explosion and dammit, I was going to give it to him. So we proceeded to go into the belly of the ship and find more explosive objects. Thankfully, the ship was chockablock full of explosive items so I attached a demo charge to one and pulled the trigger. I didn’t even leave the ship and had a front row seat as panels were blown off the ship and things were vented into the atmosphere. It was glorious and very entertaining. When I ended the demo, I lost more money due to damages than I made by scrapping the parts I tore off the ship.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker - Roadmap
<span style=font size 12px color #808080>Images provided by Focus Entertainment<span>

Earn Your Freedom in Single Player.
While I didn’t get a chance to see what the single player is like, the rep at Focus Entertainment’s booth answered quite a bit of the questions I had. For instance, if you decide to stop working on a ship, you can save your progress, work on a different ship and return to that ship later. You can also get hurt in the single player mode and die so you need to be extra careful about how you position things.

Hardship is the last game I played at PAXEast and I’m glad I didn’t miss it. It had one spot at Focus’ booth and I happened upon it as I was waiting for an appointment for Evil West. I went from slaying vampires to floating around space and doing work for a corporation I had no idea about and it felt great. Hardspace: Shipbreaker 1.0 will be released on May 24th 2022 and aims to release on consoles later down the road. The game is in early access however, so if you want to get in on the action right now, you can.