PEGBRJE: Satellite Repairman and Zone of Lacryma

I don’t actually think I’m qualified for this

Satellite Repairman is a ‘casual’ management sim made by Bit Outside The Box, the project of Nuno Donato. Players are part of a the future as a, well, satellite repairman who is sent on different excursions in order to establish a satellite network for defensive purposes. It’s up to this quirky individual to keep everything running as smoothly as possible, no matter how many missiles start getting thrown.

Satellite Repairman is an interesting hybrid of base defense and management sim, for much of the game will be spent ensuring that the planet doesn’t completely get destroyed by missiles. To do this, players need to establish a network of communication towers and satellites, where the comms keep the network flowing and the satellites are what allow for the missiles to be recognized and targeted. Now, this is just the simplistic version of how the game operates, for there are a lot more buildings and moving parts to have to manage. Satellites require modules to be installed to operate in the specific ways that players need, such as radar, communications, diagnostics, cloaking, and more. All of these, along with the different satellite types, are built at a factory. These factories are crafted at ‘Yards’, which are the core building to build most upright structures including missile defense turrets and farms. Without missile defenses, there is no way to stop the impending missiles, but the defenses need the satellites and communication towers to inform them of where the impending threat is coming from.

If this sounds like a massive web of things, that would more or less be correct; the amount of interconnectivity that is present balances on a fine line, and a single successful missile destroying a communication tower can completely unravel an entire playthrough. This is made doubly difficult when players realize that towers destroyed never leave. They cannot be destroyed nor built over, and instead stand as a monolith to failure. Now, there are some reprieves, usually within the form of upgrades at the Research Centre. These can expand the length of certain networks such as radar, unlock better satellites and assist in certain buildings. For these upgrades, and actually all of the buildings as well, the only currency required is time. Queueing up a building takes nothing of the player, and upon completion will drop the object outside of the building it was built at. The caveat is that the little repairman only has 4 slots for inventory, but that is usually fixed by the speed in which players will need to be putting things down.

Satellite Repairman is definitely an intriguing title to dive in to. It could almost be considered a tower defense of sorts, as players focus on the ‘support’ role of a defending location rather than a more active approach with their own weaponry. Make no mistake, however; this game requires the utmost focus at all times, as the farther one gets the less room for error there is. Missiles come fast and numbered, and it’s up to the player to keep everything operational to avoid complete destruction. The mission-centric mode does help a little to ease players in, but that didn’t stop the absolute shock that I had when I got to more heavy levels.

If you’re a fan of ‘casual yet stressful’ defense titles, ones that like to combine numerous mechanics together in a clever way or just really like space defenses, then this might be a title worth trying.

My photo didn’t upload, so have this lovely Steam shot.

Zone of Lacryma is an storied arcade shoot-em-up made by oophok, indie dev studio for Frederico Machuca. In this tale, players are a pilot testing a prototype ship for New Heaven, a planet of the future after Earth was destroyed. We follow this pilot as they test out these new features, slowly unravelling what exactly this new ship’s purpose is.

Zone of Lacryma plays like a true shmup with a few twists to the formula to not only update it for the times, but also add some little flairs. Players move along the astral environments with the standard top down camera, destroying asteroids and enemies as they do in order to gain high scores. Each kill increases the combo meter, which in turn grants more points and can increase the firepower of the player. The big resource is the ‘charge’ meter on the side, which passively increases based on the movement of the prototype. Each shot the player takes consumes a single charge, while the other abilities will also consume a set amount as well such as the Charge Bomb or regaining the Shield. This balance has players focus on ensuring that they aren’t just blindly shooting the entire game, carefully taking stock of their resource while dodging the projectiles and walls that may come their way. Upon beating a level, the amount of points gained will be translated into an exp. system, and gaining more points will get players towards their next level. Each level gained gives a singular upgrade point, which can then be used to alter the ship in various ways to fit the playstyle that players are aiming for.

The twist of sorts is that there are more than the default movement speeds. Players that are looking for more of a challenge (and want to get out of a bind at times) can press the Turbo button to increase the speed of the game by a set amount. This increases the number of charge gained for more ability usage, with the major drawback of not being able to react as fast to moving objects. On the flip side, players that need some more space or are not accustomed to Schmup gameplay can utilize the breaks to slow the game down, not changing the charge rate (at least, not as much from what I could tell) but allowing for players to get more familiar with the game. What makes these two extra speeds special is that players can vary between them at any time. They each have their own button to activate, so players can utilize the breaks in harder areas or speed up a place they found easy. These buttons are also completely separate from the up/down buttons to maneuver through the map, allowing for some funky speed switches.

Wrapping this title up is its rather curious story of the future, where our pilot has been dreaming — something that apparently isn’t a good thing. What exactly that means is up to finding out as the game progresses and she meets other characters and asks them about if they dream as well. All the while the science team is looking towards furthering the pilot’s abilities for this ship, and what that entails can only be found out the farther the player gets. Hopefully.

Zone of Lacryma is a trip to experience, with customization and narration interwoven into the absolutely rock-solid shmup experience. Players of all kinds can enjoy it thanks to the ability to manipulate the default speed of the pilot, from ones needing a bit more assistance to those attempting a speedrun. If you enjoy shooty shooty arcade titles, this is definitely one to try out.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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