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Galaxy on Fire 2 Review: Beautiful Space Exploration and Solid Story

Games with complex trading systems and inter-galaxy travel often come across as intimidating. Some of us would rather just keep launching birds out of slingshots or endlessly slicing pieces of fruit . . . But say you’re feeling ambitious and want to get lost in hours of gameplay that take place in another universe. Well, you could do a lot worse than Galaxy on Fire 2. Improving on the original in all the right areas (like better visuals and a more streamlined plot), developer FISHLABS has served up a title that will suite newcomers to space exploration and veterans alike. All in all, Galaxy on Fire 2 is well-balanced and deserving of its somewhat high price.

You play the game as Keith T. Maxwell. After going through all the trials and tribulations of battling the Vossk in the first game, this unfortunate traveler has wound up drifting through space. Early on in the sequel, Keith learns that he’s somehow slept through 35 years and is an unimaginable distance from his home galaxy. Thus, your mission is to return home, but as you might have guessed, getting there is going to take some doing, especially since members of an evil alien race called the Voids stand ever-ready to get in your way.

The game’s map consists of 20 star systems. Each system has planets, and every planet has its own space station (still following?). It’s here at these stations that you’ll manage your ship, resources, and assigned tasks. The developer states that Galaxy on Fire 2 has about 10 hours of gameplay, but that time can be seriously extended depending on how many extracurricular missions you accept. This speaks to one of the game’s main themes, and that’s the variety that can be found depending on your approach . . . Whether you’re doing freelance work for people you meet in the space lounge or completing a necessary mission to advance in the campaign, Keith T. Maxwell will be up to all sorts of things like mining asteroids, trading supplies, acting as a mercenary or pirate, and even developing new weapons and equipment. There are also plenty of wide-open space battles. These end up being a highlight of the game thanks to the fluid controls, which we’ll touch on right now . . .

There are over 30 different types of space ships available for purchase and upgrade, but each controls in a similar manner. A virtual stick on the left controls your ship’s movement, while button icons on the right fire your primary and secondary weapons. The standard view mode works well enough most of the time, but free view gives you an excellent look at your surroundings, which can be quite impressive.  And since travel plays such a big part in this game, it’s good news that controlling your ship’s destination is greatly aided by autopilot and jump gaps, meaning that not a lot of time has to be wasted tooling around the universe trying to figure out where to go.

With such a vast world to be explored, and the seemingly infinite number of tasks to be completed, only those looking for a linear experience will be disappointed. Thanks to the game’s free-form design, the story can be approached from any angle. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s fun to take things at your own pace, but the game lacks “big moments.” Instead, the plot sometimes falls flat, only to be occasionally interrupted by moments of fighting and heroism. But, again, it depends on how you come at it.

Whether you yearn to take on the Voids and get Keith T. Maxwell home safely, or just want to cruise though an asteroid field in a space ship, don’t hesitate to drop $6.99 for Galaxy on Fire 2. It’s the kind of game you can return to now and then to make a little progress, and then let sit for weeks while you mess with more casual apps. With plenty of room to implement various strategies and trading methods, it lacks no depth and delivers more than most of us would ask for. Also, bear in mind that it’s being upgraded to a universal app in the days to come, and that will come with a price increase to $9.99. So, space cowboys, better pull the trigger now.

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