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Space Mercenary Defence Force Review

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In this world, there is no good idea that isn’t mercilessly copied and “paid homage” to. And when that idea sets the world on fire the way that Vampire Survivors has done, it is perhaps even less surprising. 

What we have here in Space Mercenary Defence Force is basically Vampire Survivors in a spaceship. It’s from the teams at Eastasiasoft and Tom Paradise, described as a tactical sci-fi action shooter with a roguelike twist. Let’s see if it can hold a candle to the source material…

Space Mercenary Defense Force review 1
Vampire Survivors – in space!

Don’t expect too much of a set up or story in Space Mercenary Defence Force. We spawn into the middle of a spacescape, some aliens come, we shoot them, all while trying to avoid having our limited health pool being depleted by contact with the foes or the bosses that show up. That’s very much what is on offer in a nutshell. 

And it must be said, the presentation is the usual kind of thing we are used to for something from Eastasiasoft, with a retro, pixel arty kind of look to the game. We fly a boxy spaceship, left to defend ourselves from some boxy aliens that keep wanting to ruin the day. The area that we get to fly around in is actually quite small, bounded by walls that we cannot get past. And whilst the area to play in is finite, compared to the size of the levels in Vampire Survivors, it all feels a little claustrophobic. 

You should expect the usual kind of thing in terms of the audio as well, with the various weapons we can equip having their own sound. There is nothing here that is either going to surprise or upset – it literally is Vampire Survivors in space. 

Due to that inspiration, Space Mercenary Defence Force is actually pretty good. It has a smidgen of that Vampire Survivors addictiveness, that real drive to just have one more go until it is 3:30am. And the basic setup will be familiar to anyone who has played that other game – we start in a spaceship with only a weedy turret for weaponry, killing aliens, picking up dropped crystals, gaining EXP points. Having gathered sufficient, it’s time to level up and it’s here where the game starts to get interesting. 

Space Mercenary Defense Force review 2
You know the drill – kill stuff.

You see, as usual, levelling up means we can pick a weapon to mount to our spaceship, also choosing where to mount it. On the basic starting ship, there are four points that weapons can be placed – front, rear, top and bottom, firing in the direction that they are facing. For instance, if your most powerful weapon is on the rear, you will want to get the foes to follow you so they get hit. This is surprisingly involving, and making sure all your weapons hit is a real challenge. 

The weapons also have extra levels that can be applied to them as things level up. Each weapon has multiple extra bits that can be unlocked, from extra attack power to more frequent firing, and this is key to surviving. You can’t change your mind when you have filled the ship’s attachment points up, left to just improve what you have. There are other things that can be selected when levelling up though, from extra health and even some healing to keep you alive longer. 

One of the more interesting things that Space Mercenary Defence Force throws at you are the little mini games; the likes of a coin toss game or a fruit machine. These add a little extra spice to proceedings, giving out extra credits in return. Of course, these credits are also used to purchase new things, leading to the roguelike aspect of the game. 

There are new ships which come in different flavours – either slow, with lots of weapon attachment points, or speedy with fewer attachment points. They are very expensive however, so some grinding will be required. There are also other upgrades that can be bought, perks if you will, that can make things a little easier. There are also things called Celestial Modifiers and Astral Upgrades, both of which can change the game in some interesting ways. 

Space Mercenary Defense Force review 3
What are you upgrading?

The action in Space Mercenary Defence Force is pretty good and fairly addictive, although getting a good build going can be quite difficult, as the upgrades are all random. However, the urge is there to have just one more go, and with a very low asking price there is a certain amount of fun to be had. 

If you are totally done with Vampire Survivors, Space Mercenary Defence Force may just scratch the itch.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Lots of weapons and upgrades
  • Various perks
Cons:
  • The economy feels a bit mean as everything is very expensive
  • Not as good as the source material
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Eastasiasoft
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Release date and price - 1 May 2024 | £4.19
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Lots of weapons and upgrades</li> <li>Various perks</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>The economy feels a bit mean as everything is very expensive</li> <li>Not as good as the source material</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Eastasiasoft</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch <li>Release date and price - 1 May 2024 | £4.19</li> </ul>Space Mercenary Defence Force Review
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