Cargo Commander is one of the worst titles to grace a great game since Renegade Ops. You wouldn’t know it by the title, but this wildly inventive, wildly enthusiastic, wildly randomized, and deeply deep space dungeon crawl belongs on your hard drive when it comes out in a few weeks. I’ll have more to say as the release date gets closer. But today, I want to warn you about the font.
After the jump, that’s no G
The moment-to-moment gameplay in Cargo Commander is jumping around little dungeons, drilling through walls, looking for treasure, and shooting monsters. Kind of like Spelunky, but with more energy and occasionally lower G. The premise is that you’re a space salvager, like those guys that find Ripley at the beginning of Aliens. Your space base cruises into randomly generated sectors, pulling in waves of cargo containers with a powerful space magnet. The containers arrive with a thud, and they often rip ungainly holes into each other. There are no polite transitions via airlock in Cargo Commander. You have to quickly explore the containers to find treasures unique to the sector before a black hole shreds everything and sucks the pieces into its maw. Cargo Commander is waves of exploration, in which the dungeons come to you for their short life spans before it all ends in an apocalyptic orgy of physics-based destruction. Nearly every wave ends with you wading through space wreckage to get home, hoping your air supply holds out. Imagine if Michael Bay had directed that scene in 2001 where Bowman has to get back into the Discovery. That’s Cargo Commander.
Each sector has a key you can find to unlock another sector of your choice. As you accumulate treasures from different sectors, you level up and unlock new abilities, such as headstarts along the upgrade process to give yourself better weapons and equipment. Once you find a key, you can move on, or you can dawdle about to earn a high score based on the treasures you salvage and the monsters you kill. Did I mention some of the cargo containers have monsters in them? Because they do.
Cargo Commander’s waves are randomly generated for each sector, but they’re the same every time you play that sector. After the starting area, you’re free to go where you will. The list of sectors defaults to the most popular choices, which I assumed was created by the developers. The sectors had cute names that seemed appropriate for Cargo Commander’s blue collar, space trucker aesthetic. SectorX, Glockenspiel, and Gumguzzler, for instance. I chose Gumguzzler and spent some time hunting down its treasure and trying to beat the score of the only other player. The game isn’t out yet, so there isn’t a lot of activity on the high score lists, which is a great way to feel awesome.
But as I was working my way closer to the sector’s high score, I noticed at one point that it wasn’t actually called Gumguzzler. Fortunately, I discovered this before I’d beaten the host’s high score, so I’m glad to say I don’t have a high score on the sector whose name looks like Gumguzzler, but isn’t. I guess this is what happens when you can enter whatever text you want to create a procedurally generated level with that name. Oh, internet.
I do, however, have the high score on QT3, which you can visit when you play Cargo Commander. You’ll find chocolate eggs, lumps of copper, gallons of super rocket fuel, dark matter cubes, and vials of awesome. That’s right, vials of awesome. They’re ultra rare, but I found one, and it was in QT3. You’ll also find a locker with my weapon of choice, a six shooter, in the first container. You’ll also find my corpse if you make it as far as I made it on my farthest run. It’s wave seven, I think. You can loot me for ammo, upgrade parts, and health. I don’t mind.
Cargo Commander will be available on Steam on November 1st.