Yargis – Space Melee is a space combat game with a lot of modes, but it all turns into little more than a jousting match between you and your foes. There’s a quick single player campaign that will teach you how to use the controls and show you just how frustrating it can be to do even the simplest things thanks to the game’s trust controls. You’re flying a space ship, so thrust is always important. You can go forward and strafe side-to-side, but your momentum will slam you into walls and enemies.
The controls seem relatively simple with rebindable keys. Thrust forward, space break, strafe, rotate with your mouse. There’s a button for a speed boost to get you out of a pinch or to break a planet’s gravitational pull. You can only shoot the direction you’re facing, so a lot of space jousting can devolve into butting ships together and hoping to destroy the other one first. Its dull, boring and thoughtless. There’s no grace or finesse to these controls and using a 360 controller is even worse. Even with key rebindings, the right thumb stick is always stuck to zoom in and out as well as thrust forward.
To the game’s credit the single player campaign offers a lot of variety. Death matches, defending planets, rescuing space cattle, collecting ships and dropping them into safe points. The problem is nothing is fun with the controls, even then some of the missions are laughably short and ridiculously easy. Of course if they were any tougher, the controls would be unbearable. It didn’t feel like there was that much enemy variety either and that would have made me feel like I was progressing through the campaign. For every mission you complete, you’ll earn experience and money.
Obviously the money goes to purchase ship parts, and the experience goes to your level which is needed to purchase the parts. You can’t just spend everything you have to get the best armor; the game carefully breaks things down with these leveled parts to ensure you’ll crawl up piece by piece. Different weapons do different things, a gattling gun will fire slower the longer you use it.
The game offers a few items that you can collect, everything from a star pool that acts like a shotgun blast, to health or even walls. I say walls, because walls will crop up in the level. The health is the most valuable out of all the items, but the real problem with the items is the key placement. Relying on four keys to use the items in your four inventory slots. With one hand on the mouse, and another on the arrows, its just difficult in a dog fight to make use of these items. When you use one, the others shift over accordingly. Perhaps the right mouse button would be better to use whatever is in the first inventory slot and shift them accordingly. Rebindable keys to the rescue I guess. Even getting the items in general is tough thanks to the thrust controls that make everything feel like its on ice. There’s no easy way to pull them into you, so you’re stuck relying on luck or moving so slow that you can’t miss them.
One of the major concerns that I have is gravitational pull of planets. It might not seem like a big deal, but it will cause you’re demise if you’re not careful. Under normal circumstances, you can speed boost to break orbit, but if you’re at a dead stop, no speed boost can help you. A death is a death and you have infinite tries for each mission, but it really becomes an issue on the mission select screen. There’s no smooth or easy way to select a mission, you need to fly to it and some of these missions are planets that will suck you in, but not destroy you. Instead, you’ll be asked over and over again to start a mission. Sometimes you won’t be able to break orbit, so then you’ll have to visit the menu and select mission select which respawns you at the start of the galaxy. You’ll then have to find the mission you were at and play it. If you go into the wrong mission, you’ll have to back out. It just feels like wasted time.
Outside of the single player campaign, the game boasts online play and it does have a robust set of modes: King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, Prison Break, Base Conquer (Co-Op), Maze Race (and CTF Maze) and Melee Battle, but the problem is at this price point, there’s no one playing and might never be. To prove it, the game has an intuitive server selection, which all online games should have, so I applause Yargis for that. You can even easily start your own server and have friends join. Its just that over the span of three weeks, I seemed to be the only person trying to play. You can even set up bots and while the maps have good multiplayer designs, its just a dull game to play even if the online has more action.
In multiplayer I noticed some of the bot ships are pitch black with no outline. Since the game is played in space with nothing but a black background, it would make them tough to see if it wasn’t for their health bar. So playing I’d shoot at the health bar.
As for the graphics and music, they feel like low quality. Not just bad, but compressed to make the game take up less file size at the cost of fidelity. I can hear hissing in the music. The music is lack luster and unfitting of a space game. Deep piano backgrounds coupled with the hiss makes me look for the music button, but no I endured it, because its part of the experience.
Also part of the experience is some of the worst voice acting that I’ve ever heard. While I applaud their effort, that doesn’t make it good and yes I’d much rather be listening to dialog than reading it. Oh but I assure you dialog boxes will still pop up obscuring twenty-percent of the screen even at the most inopportune moments. While the voice acting is laughably bad, they can stay, but the dialog boxes need to go. Nothing like being in a space battle, but having to steer off course to press “skip all.”
At the end of it all comes the root of all even and that’s the price tag. While I don’t make it a habit to hinder anyone from purchasing a game based on price, $17 does seem a bit much for a game of this low quality. I hate to insult a game on this many levels, but after spending three weeks, periodically trying this game, I can’t recommend it, because it doesn’t feel like there’s anything redeemable here that people will find fun or engaging. With that being said, I’d still like to thank Jeff for giving me a copy of the game.