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Hands-On: Space Salvage Mixes Corporate Satire With An Intriguing VR Space Adventure

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In space, no one can hear you scream, but your corporate overseers can exploit you for profit. Here are our full hands-on impressions of Space Salvage from EGX London 2022.

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Not to be confused with Deep Space Salvage Crew VR, Fruity Systems’ debut game opts for space exploration over an FPS roguelike. Space Salvage takes you to an ultra-capitalistic future, joining the Space Salvage Corporation as its latest 0-hour contract stooge. Make no mistake, you are expendable, a fact regularly reinforced by our cold-hearted AI companion. I could only laugh at this over-the-top satire.

Keeping us firmly inside the cockpit during the demo, your goal as trainee pilot involves recovering cargo from crashed ships with your Space Pod. Charting your course with help from a mini map, collecting cargo is usually straightforward. Gripping a flight stick on the left and accelerator on the right, simply approach the floating cargo and a tractor beam automatically deploys. Be careful though, if you’re travelling too fast – indicated by that beam turning red – you’ll damage your ship upon impact. Your Space Pod has a fuel gauge, which never fell short enough to cause problems, but I’d guess this factors more noticeably into later missions.

Before long, it becomes clear this ship was deliberately attacked and you’ll need careful coordination to avoid active proximity mines. That would be easier if the accelerator didn’t feel somewhat fiddly. Move it a little too far and suddenly you’re halfway to the next asteroid. This is admittedly not a major issue, just one that requires a deft touch. Eventually, I unlocked the Pod’s laser weapon to help clear this threat, letting me destroy mines from a distance.

Finally, the mysterious assailant revealed himself, threatening to kill me for claiming ‘his’ cargo, leading into combat. I wouldn’t call this a dogfight though. Even though I was in one spaceship attacking another,  the latter’s engine was fried. making him an easy target. He could still attack, but was unable to move. I’d love more space dogfighting like we’ve seen in Star Wars: Squadrons or EVE: Valkyrie but for now, the demo provided a fun combat warm up. Space Salvage’s exploration was entertaining too. Traversal feels smooth, changing course is easy and I never collided with any objects, despite that acceleration issue. 

Once you’ve accomplished your tasks on a given mission, you can mark it as complete by pressing the shiny red button above you. At this point in my demo, I discovered I’d missed plenty of hidden optional cargo throughout the level. Overall, it was a promising start for Space Salvage and I’m keen to explore the world further. If you want to give it a try yourself, the demo is available for Quest 2 via App Lab for free

Space Salvage launches later this year on Meta Quest platforms and PC VR via Steam.

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