Between Baldur’s Gate 3, Starfield, and Cyberpunk 2077, I’ve been absolutely drowning in high-quality RPGs. But I’d be remiss to count out the indie scene, which is also producing fantastic games in the genre. One of these sleeper titles that shouldn’t slip under the radar is Space Wreck, an homage to old-school isometric RPGs like the original Fallout. It’s weird, punishing, versatile, and extremely compelling.
Space Wreck begins on a small refueling platform. I take on the role of Captain of a vessel that only just escaped certain doom. In order to repair our ship and complete our journey, I need to venture out for supplies. Of course, nothing’s ever easy, and the first big haul I find — a shipload of fuel — is zealously guarded by automated security robots and a second crew of scavengers who aren’t in the mood to share.
Space Wreck has the statistic distribution and dialogue trees you might expect from a classic RPG, but the game’s campaign is also tooled to work like an immersive sim. The first character I created was a smooth-talking generalist who could charm the pants off any opponent. I quickly learned that every choice has a consequence. In this case, my refusal to invest in science-related skills meant that I kept breaking computer terminals.
The beauty of Space Wreck is that every time I foolishly close a door by failing to crack a terminal, there’s always a window. With a screwdriver, I can let myself into the station’s ventilation systems. Or, if I rolled appropriately, I can go for the good old fashioned solution of indiscriminate murder. I ended up trying again with a second character who was designed to be one hell of a hacker, and it transformed the way I approached the game.
Space Wreck tends to lock bits of progression behind stats, and it can have surprising results. If you don’t put points into Focus, for instance, your character might find themselves unable to follow a long conversation and they might just wander off. Some NPCs won’t even talk to you unless you pass an initial Charm test, and if you forget to unequip your weapon before approaching them, they might just assume you’re about to attack them.
I have yet to solve Space Wreck’s many secrets, but so far I love the game for making me work through those challenges. Many RPGs offer choice, but Space Wreck’s choices are serious business. Combat, for instance, is completely optional in Space Wreck — because if you don’t build for it, you’re going to get turned into chunky salsa. It’s a refreshing, tiny RPG that captures the joy of classic games in the genre, and I’m hooked.