“Set the torque sock to maximum!”
Spaceteam never tells you what a torque sock is. It won’t explain what a paragrid or a hexloop does either. What it will do is offer you and your friends the chance to shout desperate commands at one another as you work together to navigate a ramshackle starship clear of deadly anomalies and supernovas.
Welcome to Spaceteam
If you’re going to play Spaceteam with your friends, you’ll need to find a place where you can be loud without bothering anyone, and you can get a strong Wi-Fi signal. While you can play the game over Bluetooth, getting everyone’s device onto the same network allows iOS and Android users to play together.
Once your friends have joined a multiplayer game and confirmed that they’re ready, you’ll all be dropped into the game. There are three main parts to the display: your controls, your commands, and your view of the starship racing through space.
As you play, commands show up on your screen with a rapidly depleting countdown bar beneath them. If you see a label on your control panel that matches the command given, you’ll need to execute that command to propel the ship further out of harm’s way. Failure to input commands not only drags the ship closer to certain doom, it also triggers malfunctions on your console. You might need to wipe slime away from the names of controls, or drag loose panels back into alignment to keep going.
Not all of the commands you get will be for controls on your console though, and that’s when Spaceteam deteriorates into hilarious panicked mayhem. You’ll need to relay any orders that aren’t for you to your friends, while listening out for them to name controls that are on your screen. It’s both challenging and rewarding to sort through all of the sci-fi nonsense getting thrown around for the orders you need to run your station.
Spaceteam’s audio-visual accompaniments do a great job of immersing you in the panic of a team struggling to keep a rapidly failing starship running. The stark steel and red control panel is easy to read at a glance, but gets appropriately confusing as panels glow red hot, sparks fly, and smoke billows up to cloud your vision.
There’s not much in the way of music, but the blasts of explosions, the hiss of engines, and the beeps of each player’s successful commands create a great atmosphere of chaos, particularly when they’re coming from every device running the game at once.
A Game You Will Lose
As a pick-up-and-play party game, Spaceteam isn’t about ongoing progress or pushing further into a long single player campaign. It’s a high score endurance challenge that you’ll eventually lose, rather than a game that you beat if you play well enough. And then there are the randomly generated complications that arise to keep things fresh from mission to mission.
Sometimes all of your control labels will be converted to symbols, forcing players into describing alien-like icons in order to communicate the command. Asteroid storms force the crew to shake their devices to get clear, and wormholes require everyone to flip their devices upside down or risk screen warping distortions.
The thing that adds the most to Spaceteam’s longevity is the delight involved in introducing it to new players. Anytime the game comes up in conversation, and someone mentions that they have never played it before, Spaceteam veterans enthusiastically reach for their phones to show a new player a good time.
It’s a joy to live vicariously through that initial confusion that new players have, and watch them grow more confident or propose strategies to keep communication clear between players. A round of the game lasts anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes usually, and while it’s very easy to play just once, it’s also easy to play several times in a row if you’ve got the right group of people.
Spaceteam would be one of the best value party games at the price of a few dollars, but the game is absolutely free! The developer offers a few inexpensive add-ons like variant crew members or additional symbols for when your controls are labeled with little icons, but none of it is required to get the full game experience. If you and your friends have enough devices among you to get a game going, you can’t go wrong with this chaotic multiplayer freebie.
Do you have any great strategies for keeping communication clear when mayhem breaks loose? Share them in the comments with your fellow Spaceteam heroes!
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Image Credit: Star Trek Crew (JoshBerglund19)