Deep Sky Derelicts is a dungeon crawling game about people rummaging through crumbling old space wreckage for loot, and getting into fights resolved by playing cards in a JRPG-style fight between two sets of gits. There’s a sort-of-deck-building mechanic where your set of cards is determined by what gear you have, and people either tend to really like that, or really not like it. Mostly though, people like to argue about whether it’s anything like Darkest Dungeon or not, despite having a similarly Mike Mignola-esque art style.
I got it when it launched in 2018, and I liked it for precisely 10 hours of play – I thought the visuals and the music were superb, but it felt a little empty on day one for my liking. Nevertheless, after two years of regular updates, I have returned to it, and it’s lovely. It might only be 10 hours’ worth of lovely this time, too, before the core appeal fades, but then it will have been 20 hours, which is almost a full day, innit.
However, now you have clicked on the article (and yes! this is what clickbait is, chumps), I can reveal that this post is actually about the 1994 British TV show Scavengers.
Scavengers was also about people rummaging through crumbling old space wreckage for loot, and it had exactly the same mood as Deep Sky Derelicts. Only it was, get this, a game show. If you’ve seen the crystal maze, then you’ll know exactly what it was trying to cash in on: there were puzzles to solve, nets to climb about on, and NPCs to interact with (only we didn’t call them NPCs then), all in an effort to acquire objects of arbitrarily colossal value.
But even more than the crystal-maze, it went ALL IN on its premise, without ever breaking kayfabe. Each episode had a proper narrative and all, with hostile aliens and androids and all sorts, and the contestants would get into all kinds of scrapes as they navigated the painted-styrofoam interior of the derelict. And since it wasn’t remotely tongue in cheek, it was all absolutely ludicrous – think Chronicles Of Riddick on a Red Dwarf budget, and you’re halfway there.
Still, even though admittedly I was 10 at the time it aired, I thought it was fucking brilliant. I love high concept stuff that really commits to the bit, and I love unapologetically straight-faced pulp sci-fi, whatever the production values. Clearly the British public didn’t agree with me, as Scavengers was binned after one season. But its memory remains in my heart, and I think about it every time I see Deep Sky Derelicts in my Steam library.