I never thought there would be much overlap between the roguelike and chill-in-space-and-look-at-things genres, and yet here we are. Rymd Resa is by far one of the most relaxing roguelike-things I’ve played, with a lot of drifting through the cosmos and collecting star stuff. That’s not to say there’s no death, or frustrating ends to promising runs, but it doesn’t take much to get past that and into the soothing embrace of eternity.
Rymd Resa starts pleasantly enough, with a rogue asteroid annihilating your homeworld. Stuck on your dinky starship in the vastness of space, it’s up to you to find a new home for yourself and maybe unlock a few secrets of the cosmos while you’re at it. The gameplay is very familiar Asteroids-style jetting about but with several extra layers of resources, stats, and items to keep you busy. Most of what you’ll be doing at any given time is seeking out and exploring objects in space, while avoiding dangers like rocks, mines, and angry suns.
There are three chapters to the game, each with very different goals to tackle. The first chapter has you following a trail of signals across the universe, while the second tasks you with finding resources and returning them to your base. The third is a mix of both, with objectives to locate in deep space while also bringing back materials for upgrades. A helpful coordinate system and objective marker (which is actually a small companion ship) keep you from getting too terribly lost in the void as you putter about.
You’re still going to get lost, though, because space is vast and ever-changing. The heavenly bodies of Rymd Resa move quite a bit, with some drifting lazily in the sea of stars and others streaking off into eternity. They’re a lot of planets and nebulae and asteroids but also derelict satellites and stations and stranger things like kittens in F-14s. I should say now that this isn’t a terribly immersive game, and it gets a lot more mileage out of its chill atmosphere than simulating any sort of actual space.
Getting near a safe object prompts you to explore it, at which point several different things can happen. You could get Resources, which serve as both your hit points and fuel. You could get Spacepoints, which are spent on unlocking new ships and abilities via research. You could get a bit of poetic dialog that presents you a choice. Or your exploration could fail. Any of those outcomes can also produce a random item, either a consumable that helps you in your journey or a piece of equipment for your ship. There’s a pretty broad spread of items to find and equip, which helps give the game a bit more longevity after you complete other upgrades.
There are also levels to gain and skillpoints to assign and audio logs to find, and these are all welcome additions to keep you exploring space. You’ll have plenty of reasons to putter around the stars, exploring and collecting to your heart’s content… and then a bit of space junk will come out of nowhere and annihilate you. Rymd Resa has one big flaw, and that’s how easy it is to die, at least at first. I mentioned your Resources are your life and your thrust, and the base ship can hold up to 300 points. Well, a rogue asteroid is going to do well over 100 points, so if you’ve been out exploring for awhile and drift too far the wrong way, or just happen to be in the way of a comet, that run is over. You can even bite it from a particularly unlucky exploration that saps your Resources with no recourse.
I had a few moments of intense frustration as lovely space journeys ended abruptly and unfairly, and it’s all due to how weak your starter ship is. You can unlock better ships with 600 or even 1000 Resources to run with, but this costs Spacepoints and it’s NOT a one-time unlock. You’re buying that ship for your next run, so you’d better hope it’s a good enough run to earn all those Spacepoints and more back. Items and research upgrades can also mitigate these issues, so by the end of the game you should be back to drifting happily through the void. It’s just that first hour or so that threatens to disappoint.
Hopefully you can get past that hurdle because Rymd Resa is an excellent chillout roguelike full of wonders to discover. The simple, high-contrast graphics and the synth soundtrack are perfect for your treks into the unknown, building upon the strange and solitary atmosphere of your quests. There are some pretty poetic audio logs and text that might annoy you if you often find yourself deriding things as pretentious, but I found they added pleasantly to the offbeat presentation. In the end it’s a relaxing journey in a colorful, creative galaxy that I find myself just as strangely drawn to.