Space Shells Preview

Space Shells by developer Mobirate and publisher ABE Entertainment Limited—PC (Steam VR) preview written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Space Shells by Mobirate and ABE Entertainment Limited is a virtual reality first person shooter roguelite that will test your survival skills. Armed with upgradable robotic droid shells, your task is to set out and complete various missions before one of two things happens. Your shell is destroyed by enemy droids, or more embarrassingly, you run out of energy and fail to complete your mission.

The concept behind Space Shells is a solid one and the bite sized missions help to ease yourself into this VR world. This also helps to potentially hold off on any potential motion sickness that could set in until you've properly adjusted. Some people may be fine, and while I'm good for hours in a stationary style of experience, when moving around? I need that adjustment time but once you're settled in? Regardless of your gaming time, let the action begin!

Kicking things off, in this particular case, you are “you” who’s taking control of a combat droid to get the job done. Safety first! With only two models available at the moment, and more to come down the line, each has a different ceiling cap for four stats that can be upgraded. Health, armor, energy and special. Once these ceilings are upgraded, new units can be boosted up to these caps as long as you have the money for it.

So it's a good thing that the base models are free to create and don't cost you a penny as you figure everything out. This fits into the Roguelite vein. If you want to push into harder missions, your actual unit can end up costing you a good chunk of change alongside your weapons. And if you're not careful? It's a good thing that the base units are free as you may need to do a few easier runs to pad your bank account back up.

Following the same concept, weapons are mostly the same. Your basic pistols are free to create but any upgrade will cost you money. More powerful weapons like the heavier pistol and the rifle will cost a small amount to create after purchasing the blueprints and as a one time purchase it wouldn't be so bad. But since you need to also pay to create new ones? The costs add up and you really want to start succeeding at your missions!

So to succeed in your missions, you're going to need to get really comfortable with your controls. Primarily, you have your two hands on the motion controllers and your head through the headset. To move around you simply need to tilt the left joystick in the direction that you want to move. From there, you can look in the direction you want to move for a soft turn, or, use the right stick for a sharp 90 degree turn. This is what caused me a bit of motion sickness in the beginning but after a few small sessions I was good for at least a solid hour of playtime once I adjusted.

Your hands, well they are your hands and you'll be using them to select menus and open doors by touching the respective interfaces. You can also pick up items such as guns by squeezing on the pressure pad and squeeze again to drop them. This I'll be honest took a while to get used to and often got me killed. When you're moving around and pulling the triggers to fire, you can easily re-squeeze your controller and drop your guns on the floor mid firefight. Other than this little detail though, the rest of it works really well as you simply need to point your guns at the enemy and pull the trigger.

To help you keep track of things while out on a mission, within your VR environment you will also have an augmented reality (AR) like head’s up display for your armor, health, and power reserves. Also ammo count for your extra weapons that you can pack into each shoulder. Your guns themselves also have AR like ammo counters so you're always up to date on what you have in reserve giving you no excuse other than not having paid attention when they click empty.

Where things get tricky is in the gameplay. Space Shells while a Roguelite uses one of the fundamental rules of the older and more sadistic Roguelikes, energy. Any step you take while out on a mission will deplete your energy. Starting off with very small reserves there's not that much room for error. Easy stages are straightforward with one door in and out of each room that connect one after another.


Medium and Hard stages however will have branching hallways and floors to move up or down to. Not sure where the enemies are? I hope you upgraded your energy limits and boosted this unit's output as you'll need it to find out. Running out of energy will shut down your unit just as fast as running out of armor and then health which destroys it. The reason I said sadistic above though is because unlike an actual Roguelike? There's no way to replenish it. What you go into a mission with is it. So use it carefully.

This line of thought also boils into your weapons. Upgraded or not for higher ammo reserves and damage, an empty gun is an empty gun. As you move through each stage you'll want to make sure you're always keeping track of your ammo and swapping empties for ones with more ammo. This is perhaps one area that I would like to see changed down the line as it would be nice to simply be able to restock on ammo instead of having to fully toss out the current gun and replace it with another. Especially mid combat!

On a final note, if I were to have a wishlist of sorts, it would be that I would like to see new interior ship designs and different mission types. While the three current layouts suit the difficulty levels, more variety will be needed for longevity as after a few hours it would be nice to see something new. In terms of mission types, destroying all enemies works out great but maybe sabotage and blowing the whole thing up could be the goal instead.


Otherwise, Space Shells, while just kicking off Early Access, I believe is in good shape. Between the currently available difficulty levels, upgradable droid models and weapons, it's more than enough to give a taste of the overall action as we now wait for more to come.

Score: N/A



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