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Next Space Rebels mixes Kerbal Space Program, full-motion video, and online activism

Democratize space, then take careful inventory of your remaining fingers

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Space has long been the exclusive domain of nation states. Private ventures like SpaceX are slowly changing that, but a new video game dreams of a future where spaceflight belongs to the people. It’s called Next Space Rebels, and the game is due out this fall on Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

Revealed during the PC Gaming Show on Sunday, Next Space Rebels looks at first glance like a budget version of Kerbal Space Program. Players graduate from gluing teddy bears on their Estes model rocket kits to building multi-stage launch vehicles capable of delivering a payload to low Earth orbit. But the carrot on the end of the game’s explosive stick is a near future narrative told through full-motion video cutscenes.

A rocket composed of dual thrusters and pink mannequin arms. Image: Studio Floris Kaayk/Humble Games
A blurry photograph of an amateur engineer flits around a 3D model of a homebrew rocket with a baby on top. Image: Studio Floris Kaayk/Humble Games
A simulated launch of a relatively benign looking two-motor rocket. The unclad vehicles is just leaving the ground. Image: Studio Floris Kaayk/Humble Games

According to a news release, Next Space Rebels is a “one-of-a-kind story driven simulation game.” Players will begin the game as a “naive rocket hobbyist” chasing clicks on Startube, an in-fiction analogue for YouTube. Characters include a diverse crowd of competing amateur rocketeers as well as a charismatic figure on a mission to democratize outer space. The game will also include a sandbox mode, which will likely be a hit on the real YouTube.

You can learn more about Next Space Rebels at the official website. The game is also available to wishlist on Steam and the Humble Store.