Space Pirates and Zombies is a little jewel of a game developed by a two person workshop called MinMax games. It is an interesting mix of 2D space action à la Escape Velocity mixed with some rudimentary RPG aspects and varying ship customization. At first glance, the game may seem very simple. You go from planet to planet, pick a side to fight for, buy whatever’s available, then move on. However, as the game goes on, you’ll find yourself beginning to grasp the subtle differences between each ship and its weapon load outs as you start doing more and more experimentation. Although a typical SPAZ game won’t be extremely long (20-25 hours tops), it is extremely hard to get enough research points to max out every category. This leaves a lot of room for replayability.
The graphical style of SPAZ is very simple but has a nice feel to it. The scenes are very well done, and yet the UI is simple and easy to use. The background is often very colorful, but is not overwhelming enough to take away from the action that’s going on in the foreground. The overall sound effects are well done too. There isn’t too much noisy chatter, and it adds a nice atmosphere to the game. The only downside to the sound effects is the lack of variety for the background chatter as it tends to start repeating itself as you play the game more and more.
SPAZ offers a good amount of customization for your ships. You can tweak everything including various ship hulls and sizes, weapon systems, armor, support systems, research upgrades, even fleet wide specialists which can boost a specific stat, such as improving laser damage. When you gain a level in SPAZ, you are given a certain amount of upgrade points you can put into research. Each level of research will unlock some bonuses as well as giving you the opportunity to use better gear in that area. One neat thing that SPAZ allows you to do is to reclaim your spent upgrade points via respec at any time. The only drawback of respeccing is an experience penalty, meaning it’ll take you longer to reach the next level up.
One of the biggest downsides to the SPAZ galaxy is the fact that a lot of the planets are there just for filler. The galaxy may seem big and intimidating at first, but in a normal playthrough, there is almost no purpose in visiting at least half of the planets. This is a shame, as exploring the galaxy is one of the reasons that makes SPAZ fun.
Overall, SPAZ is a great game bundled into a small price. In fact, it’s currently on sale this weekend on Steam for 60% off. There is no reason not to pick up this game at that price.