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Galaxy Trucker - iPad Review

Brad Cummings
United States
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The Stats:
Compatibility: iPad (iPhone and Android Coming Soon!)
Reviewed On: iPad Air
Current Price: $4.99
Version: 1.0.3
App Size: 72 MB
Developer/Publisher: Czech Games Edition.
Multiplayer: Yes
AI: Yes
Itunes link: Galaxy Trucker

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Fastening a perfect double engine to the back of my spaceship, I grab the first player token and declare my construction complete. Quickly I realize I have forgotten to attach a laser gun to the front of my ship, leaving me vulnerable to asteroid collisions. It is not long into my space flight that a meteor strikes my open spot and splits my spaceship in two.

Galaxy Trucker is a game of stories, it is a game of laughing at others’ misfortunes and screaming at your own demise. It is a highly social game, one that may appear impossible to recreate digitally. That is the magical part of this port, CGE has managed to bring this experience to our iPads (also Android and iPhone soon), not just through online multiplayer but throughout the entire experience.

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The humor in Galaxy Trucker comes from the very structure of the gameplay. Your first task in any game is to construct a ship. This is done by drawing tiles and attaching them to the existing tiles on your ship. Tiles represent ship parts such as crew quarters, laser guns, cargo holds, engines, and more. There is a puzzle element to the game as tile connections vary, and you have to match like tiles in order to add them to your ship. This is all done in realtime, so mistakes are often made. Maybe you forgot a key component or overlooked an entire strategy.

After your ragtag ship is welded together, it is time to fly. The flying portion of the game is a race, you are trying to be the first to reach the finish and have the prettiest ship. Each flight is represented by a deck of cards full of hazards. These could be meteors that strike your ship, pirates, war zones, planets to collect goods from, and more. Your goal is to earn as much cash as you can and try and survive. Because the cards are fairly random, you don’t always know what is coming and could be totally unprepared. You may have what appears to be the perfect ship, but then it will be ultimately destroyed.

At the end of each flight you earn points for cargo, your place in the race, and more. The player with the most cash after a set number of rounds (3 in the full game) is the winner. Subsequent rounds feature bigger and bigger ships as well as more difficult hazards. This experience is recreated point for point in the app. You can play online against players in real time or you can challenge AI opponents. If this were the extent of Galaxy Trucker on iPad, it would be somewhat shallow experience, however, CGE has gone far beyond this. Both in single player and multiplayer CGE has found ways to extend the gameplay and make it more accessible and enjoyable.

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Apart from playing traditional Galaxy Trucker with AI, there is a full fledge campaign mode. In this mode you are flying ships from planet to planet, earning money and completing quests. It features a hilarious cast of characters and many planets to explore (I’ve only scratched the surface after a week of play). I can’t stress how developed this mode is. It is not linear, but rather full of branching paths. The conversations with characters are not just well written but often hide secrets about your upcoming flight. Each flight from planet to planet feels different. Sure, there are some that are just the standard mix of Galaxy Trucker hazards, but others feature entirely new challenges. For example, in one mission you are hired to transport drinks for a bar. These are new tiles that must be protected or you fail the mission. Another route is entirely meteor cards that you must defend against. You will find yourself sinking hours and hours into this mode.

Along with realtime play, there is an entirely new turn-based mode that lets you play asynchronously. In this mode, ship building is done with a series of points. You use points to reveal tiles, store tiles, or attach them to your ship. You can also save up to three points from the previous round. You play back and forth until each player has finished their ship. It is an interesting system and really opens up Galaxy Trucker to online play.

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All of these features are packaged in what feels like the board game art come to life. The ships animate as they go down to planets, asteroids and lasers actually strike your ship, shields burst to life, and more. While still true to the board game, they have made it truly a video game experience. The UI and interface are easy to use and surprisingly intuitive. The included tutorial doesn’t just teach gameplay, but also walks you through app controls, which is great for new and experienced players (also the tutorial is quite funny, so I would check it out even if you are a pro).

Galaxy Trucker is the standout iOS board game of the year, so far. It hits all the right notes and provides hours and hours of gameplay. This is truly a board game turned into a video game, not merely a port. Each mode of play is deliberate and well thought out. This is not one to be missed.

Game of the Y...too soon to call!

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