Spacejacked is a very small independent game, which, without warning, arrived on our computer screens in 2016. Remaining rather unnoticed, it landed four years later, always with the same discretion, on all available consoles. What is this little game worth, findable for less than fifteen euros on the Nintendo eShop ?
Before starting this test, we would like to point out that the game does not offer a French translation. Only German and Russian translations are available. A beginner/medium level of English is required to play properly.
Aliens, aliens everywhere…
Spacejacked is a tower defense. For those who don’t know what tower defense is, it’s very simple: we have a base to defend and we have to place turrets in order to prevent successive waves of increasingly numerous invaders.
Spacejacked no exception to this rule. We play as Dave, the engineer of a spaceship attacked by aliens. We must then survive day after day to avoid our death as well as that of our crew.
We prefer to warn you before starting the test: Spacejacked is reserved for players who like difficulty, for players who like to curse themselves and say names of birds when they lose, for players, who, even after five failures, are ready to put their hand to the paw to do even better. If you are looking for a Zen game, go your way.
You understand, Spacejacked is a complicated game. We are fond of tower defense and experienced ourselves, we had to do it several times for a good part of the levels. We even had to start the game over from scratch in order to get a better start.
Yet the gameplay is quite simplistic and assimilated quite easily. There are three types of towers to defend against: machine gun, laser and frost. The machine gun fires fast, the laser can inflict significant damage and the freeze… freezes the opponents. We can improve our turrets and, later in the adventure, we can also change the functionality of our defenses. The laser, for example, instead of dealing with enemies in the area, can focus on a single opponent to inflict significant damage. However, our job is not just to place turrets and wait for them to do the work for us. Our dear Dave also has a blaster, which can be improved over the course of the adventure, in order to best defend our space colony. His weapon overloads at times, so you have to handle this help carefully so as not to waste it.
As with every tower defense, we have a currency to use sparingly to build our towers. We can resell them below their purchase price, so they will have to be built urgently but intelligently. We can recover some change every day by playing a remake of space invaders. We lose when the monsters destroy our reactor or kill our chief engineer.
There are three distinct modes: Story Mode, Challenge Mode, and Endless. The story mode tells us the story of Dave and his ship’s crew, attacked by aliens. The challenge mode is unlocked over the course of the story and offers us various and varied challenges, such as playing without your weapon, and the infinite mode ends as soon as you have lost.
Lose, start again, lose again, start again
In Spacejacked, the difficulty is progressive, well balanced, but it is already at a very high level from the start. Unlike other games of this genre, the goal is not to stack turrets to create an invincible armada. We never have the opportunity. On the contrary, we must place our defenses sparingly in order to create a whole that allows us to defend ourselves against the difficulties that stand before us. Each day consists of several waves of aliens and takes place in the only two levels of the game. The towers that we have placed or improved are saved from the day before to the next day. This idea of continuity is what makes the game cruel, in addition to being difficult. A seemingly innocuous error is often detrimental in the days that follow. Restarting the level before being handicapped in the future then seems essential to succeed.
The gameplay, although simplistic, is terribly effective and addictive. Despite the defeat, which happens often, we redo the match with this constant desire to repair past mistakes. The difficulty and the progression are also very well brought and allow a constant interest during all the adventure. You should know that monsters can appear in three different rooms, and we must be constantly on the alert to avoid defeat. In addition to perfectly managing our progress, Spacejacked has about ten monsters that are all varied enough that each wave is different. Between the alien who will rush without thinking towards our reactors, the one who has so many life points that he monopolizes all our defenses, we see all the colors. We also give a palme d’or to the extraterrestrial who will try, while our backs are turned, to sell our turrets.
Despite its difficulty, the story mode of Spacejacked is quite short. Composed of thirty levels, it ends in five hours maximum and leaves us, despite the pleasure provided, on our hunger. The scenario is very simplistic, quite funny, but it’s clearly not what interests us most about the game. The script just gives the impression of following a common thread throughout our progress.
Luckily, the challenge mode and the infinite mode significantly extend the lifespan. They are the perfect additions to the main adventure. If you expect to relax, to find some well-deserved respite from the difficulties already experienced, you are totally mistaken. The infinite mode is actually a very short mode where despite our twenty tries, we have so far failed to reach the tenth wave of alien.
The challenge mode offers varied and really complicated challenges. Twenty in number, you sometimes have to try a dozen times to succeed. Again, if you like difficulty and frustration, if Getting Over It with Benett Foddy is your bedside game, then you’ll have fun on Spacejacked.
Regarding graphics… let’s say there are three categories of pixel art. There are games, like Kingdom Two Crownswhich features gorgeous old-school graphics, games like Stardew Valley which are neither beautiful nor ugly and there are games like Spacejacked…
The graphics of this game are abrupt and the choice of pixel is not one: in reality, we feel that the game, at this level, is sorely lacking in resources. Visibility is also sometimes complicated when the elements overlap. It is impossible to monitor the energy level of our blaster when towering aliens are around us. The music, on the contrary, smells full of retro and sticks perfectly. Its dynamic 8-bit side goes very well with all the action that takes place in the adventure. Although it is not transcendent either, it is an undeniable asset for the player.
To conclude this test, let’s talk about the platform on which we tried the game, our dear and tender Nintendo Switch. Spacejacked is at the same price on console as on PC, i.e. 9.99€. This version brings the advantage as always to be able to play everywhere. However, it is much more pleasant to play in docked mode than in portable, because the visibility becomes all the more limited. Playing the controller is not binding, far from it, so no matter which console you choose, the experience will remain the same.
- Dynamic and addictive gameplay
- The constant progression
- A catchy 8-bit soundtrack
- An affordable price
- Well-placed humor
- Very high difficulty
- No French translation
- Really bad graphics
- This same difficulty that can put off some players
- A pretext scenario
- Lifetime / price
- Difficulty level
We want to say thanks to the writer of this short article for this amazing material
Spacejacked (Nintendo Switch) – The test