by Howie Howard
reviewed on PC
Flying around in space with my trusty jet pack!
Space Mechanic Simulator is the new mechanic simulator game from developer Atomic Jelly and publisher PlayWay S.A. It is one of three mechanic simulation games by Polish developer Atomic Jelly. The other mechanic simulation efforts include Truck Mechanic Dangerous Paths Prologue and Train Mechanic Simulator Prologue. Both the Truck and Train prologue simulators are essentially demo versions that will be fully released in 2024. Space Mechanic Simulator basically follows the same game-play path as the other mechanic simulators with the exception being the obvious space environment the repair work is done in.
As mentioned above, Space Mechanic Simulator takes place mostly in outer space either in orbit around Earth, the Moon or Mars. There is also gameplay that takes place on the surface of the Moon and Mars which includes driving a rover and making repairs on a wide variety of equipment. The repair work while in orbit involves being able to work in the weightless environment of space. This consists of being able to manoeuvre around while using a jet pack. Flying the jet pack may seem easy but it's not, at least it wasn't for me. The dynamics of movement in the vacuum of space are depicted realistically in that the thrust required to move forward needs to be countered in the opposite direction in order to slow down or stop all together. This does make working in space be very difficult indeed, probably in real life as well.
Moving around in space in the game is so realistic that it makes can often make for a frustrating experience. There's a comprehensive training sequence in the beginning that you must complete. It admirably attempts to teach the mechanics of manoeuvring with a jet pack along with other intricacies of space repair. Even after completing the training missions and obtaining the three beginner space repair licenses, I still didn't feel like a master at flying anything. Unfortunately, if you don't master the jet pack players could eventually run out of oxygen and power if they take too long to finish their work. Other more advanced repair licenses are required in order to be eligible to perform advanced repairs as the game progresses. You are required to use earnings to pay for the additional training courses.
Even though working in outer space isn't just about flying around with the jet pack, the work sequences required to accomplish even the simplest of repairs can be somewhat involved. However, I will chalk that up to my being a novice astronaut at best. Since all of the repairs require working on various space vehicles, satellites and space stations, that will mean constant jet pack usage. Even small task such as removing screws from a panel requires minor adjustments to your position and needs to be accomplished via the jet pack movements. This movement consists of moving yourself up, down, left or right by activating the various jets on the jet pack. Even though it seems like you are positioned properly in front of the device being worked on, sometimes you still won't be able to remove screws or nuts with your screwdriver and wrench. You will need to make minor positional adjustments using the jet pack. This can result in a rather clunky process if you haven't mastered the pack.
Don't lose any screws - you will need them later!
In addition to removing a lot of screws, valves need to be turned off, wires need to be disconnected and other minor tasks before you can actually remove and replace the defective device. Luckily there's a button that provides a hint as to what needs to be done next because at times it is not an intuitive process. Then after the repair is finished the process needs to be reversed with wires being reconnected, valves turned on and panel covers being replaced and secured with the screws you removed and that were automatically placed in your space suit pocket. Everything is detailed and quite interesting if you don't mind performing such work as a form of entertainment.
Since the space suit runs on electricity and you need oxygen to breathe, that means both need to be replenished. Take too long to finish a repair and run out of consumables and then it could be game over. But then, you can still restart the mission and try again. Getting back to your space shuttle to resupply can be an arduous task in itself but that's where you have to go to refill power and oxygen. Maybe in a future game update there could be a short cut, or difficulty level change to help newbies or those that aren't all that able to become a master at flying a jet pack. I have played Construction Simulator (not a part of the mechanic series) and that game provides short cuts or assistants as they are call in game, that take care of all the tedious restocking of materials part of the game. There should be something similar in Space Mechanic Simulator in order to speed things up and make it less complicated.
This space repair has successfully been completed.
I may have had a couple of gripes about some rather minor aspects of gameplay, but that definitely should not be a turn off to playing this game. Everything is very well thought out and as players complete repair missions and acquire advanced repair licenses it will open up a large universe filled with space repairs galore! Who wouldn't love that? Well, probably the guy that isn't all that mechanically inclined, but Space Mechanic Simulator is a niche title after all. As the game advances things do become much more complex with the need to use schematics, oscilloscopes and other pretty sophisticated diagnostic devices. More advanced tools and equipment are added as you progress and there is even a mode of play called Time Attack Mode. Time Attack Mode means that you have to be extremely competent with the jet pack in order to finish under the time limit. The graphics look great, and the space atmosphere or lack thereof is very realistic. Everything in the game is believable and it gets a whole lot better when you can store the old jet pack away and start doing repairs in your shiny new rover on the planet Mars!
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Very realistic and detailed mechanical space repair simulation and it can be fun.
Unfortunately, a very realistic and detailed mechanical space repair simulation may not be for everyone.