Developer: Studio Floris Kaayk
Release Date: November 17, 2021
I honestly didn’t know what to expect going in to Next Space Rebels. Sure, I knew I was going to be building rockets (which – as expected – I’m not all that good at). I knew there was a social media component to it. What I didn’t realize is that I would be spending far more time answering social media messages than I would be doing … well, anything else.
Because you’ll be spending so much time networking, the game can feel like it drags, a little bit. Do you want more parts to build rockets to make rocket launch videos? Better get networking. Want some challenges to unlock the potential to build more complex rockets? Yep, those also come from messages. In Next Space Rebels, clout is the only currency. You’ll need to post more videos to gain more followers to get more comments, and find more people to talk to to get more stuff and more unlocks.
The actual rocket building is done via a – rather clumsy – 2D interface. Initially, you have only very basic rocket parts, but before long, you’ll be adding a bunch of toys and trash items, which don’t make particularly aerodynamic rockets, but they do make some for some absolutely ridiculous ones. The first couple of challenges are pretty simple, and serve mainly to acquaint you with the mechanics of building rockets, launching them, and posting videos.
For me, the gameplay element balance was tilted far too far in the direction of learning how to become a social media success story. If what you’re looking for is a social media simulator (complete with a side of commentary about how algorithms are bad, mmkay?), then this game might really work for you. If you just want to play with model rockets, you’ll likely find yourself frustrated by all the filler.
Although I didn’t get very far into the story (at least, I don’t think that I did), I can see the potential for a good – if somewhat unbalanced – game. Towards the end of my playtime, I found myself really struggling with the challenges I had, and assumed that further progression was locked behind that, but I realize now I could have also tried just making more videos, increasing my follower count, and continuing to network my way to more parts and more challenges. I’m honestly not sure how rigid the progression path is.
Although Next Space Rebels will be disappearing from XBox Game Pass for PC in a matter of days, it is available through the Humble Trove if you have an active Humble Choice subscription. I’m not sure yet if I plan to revisit it, but I found myself continuing to rethink my strategies after closing the game.
SteamDB estimates that Next Space Rebels has sold between 4,300 and 11,900 copies on Steam. Reviews have been mostly positive, with the negative reviews mostly focusing on lack of satisfying rocket building game play. It is ranked 2066 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.