The one word I kept coming back to each time I willingly chose to return to the experience Blue-Collar Astronaut provided me was “Why?”.
More specifically: “Why was I playing a game in 2017 that doesn’t have an ounce of identity?”, “Why am I continually fighting with my ship’s handling controls to make even the simplest of manoeuvres?”, and lastly – and perhaps most importantly – “Why am I wasting my time with a game that didn’t respect it?”.
Forgive me if this review begins to sound more like a self-help therapy session as opposed to a conventional analysis of whether a game is worth your time and/or money, but to me, Blue-Collar Astronaut is the very example of an objectively bad game. They don’t come around all too often, and if I’m honest I wasn’t sure it was still even possible for such an experience to make its way to games consoles – but when I deem Blue-Collar Astronaut to be an objectively a bad game, it’s my way of saying that I’m unable to imagine a gamer of any calibre picking this up and having fun.
When playing a game for review I always head into it with an open mind (as any unbiased reviewer should), analysing the positives and negatives of its core experience and weighing this up against my overall enjoyment with the finished product. The problem with Blue-Collar Astronaut is, as far as I can possibly tell, there is just no enjoyment to be had.
Blue-Collar Astronaut sees players captain a generic and somewhat clichéd spacecraft, with the supposed hook being that instead of saving the cosmos, your task is to deliver pizzas throughout it. If, upon hearing that description, you had the image of bombastic starfighters wooshing past, interesting alien races plaguing the skies, or even a gear upgrade system to master and indulge in, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. Blue-Collar Astronaut amounts to little more than having players guide a JPEG image to three or four other JPEG images, in the hope of racking up as many points – or “wages” – as possible.
I’m not denying that there isn’t a faint glimmer of imagination here; the idea of an intergalactic pizza delivery guy feeding the galaxy is pretty good, but it’s just so poorly executed. You’ll boost from planet to planet throughout each level, attempting to control your craft’s unwieldy trajectory as you do so. The result is an inherently frustrating experience that, rather than challenging your skill or provide any kind of spectacle, will instead have you wanting to swing your controller at the screen after spending seconds struggling to touch down in the right direction. And if you eventually do, you’ll no doubt be left scratching your head as to why it’s been blown to bits.
It’s a sorry state of affairs when a 2D space platformer like Blue-Collar Astronaut asks players to spend more time course-correcting the direction of their vehicle rather than grant full control by simply boosting to that very same desired direction. It’s simply not fun to micro-manage specific required movements to such a specific degree, and the flaw is made all the more glaring when a mission ends in unfair explosion where you could swear you were owed a soft landing.
We’ve seen this style of game many a time, all things considered. Helicopter flash games of old would see you click the left mouse button in order to boost over and underneath obstacles that plagued your route, but even Blue-Collar Astronaut cannot keep you hooked in this manner due to a painful lack of control. This could somewhat be forgiven had the game done a better job of explaining its take on boost control in a tutorial, but there’s no explanation to be found. There is, however, a “driver’s ed” intro portion, but this thrusts you into vexation immediately.
If you do eventually force yourself through the game’s opening levels in the effort to purposefully punish yourself, you can take heart knowing that Blue-Collar Astronaut throws much more at you than just the challenge of landing by way of enemy laser beams and missiles you’re required to dodge. All I was left thinking by this point in the game however, was how I’d rather spend my time staring into a much more literal void as opposed to a fictitious one.
As the famous saying goes, “gameplay is king”. Unfortunately, Blue-Collar Astronaut‘s developers must have missed this memo, instead choosing to treat gameplay as an afterthought. Blue Collar Astronaut is, as a result, an experience that is simply devoid of any merit or creativity, and I very much doubt any player will find it at all fair or enjoyable.