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Void Crew, out now in early access, is spacey Sea of Thieves with weird religious overtones

Mom said it's my turn as captain

A screenshot of Void Crew, showing players grouped around a ship's map table.
Image credit: Focus

I continue to have astrophysics on the brain, and over the weekend, managed to spend an hour in Void Crew from Hutlihut Games and Focus Home. It's part of the surprisingly prosperous genre of "team up to complete some big unwieldy task with multiple moving parts" games, and while it hasn't yet hit the highs of Overcooked or reached the terrible depths of Barotrauma, I think the recently launched Early Access build might be worth your time. Amongst other things, it's trying for a curious blend of jolly party game and macabre theocracy work simulator. And it does have some rather swanky-looking ships.

Void Crew casts you as genetically engineered and vat-spawned disciples of a religious human civilisation that's at war with alien invaders called the Hollow. Teams of 2-4 players sally forth in a glossy frigate or destroyer to complete objectives such as reactivating a radio outpost or helping some marooned freighters, all the while fending off waves of smaller fighters and tougher, clover-leaved Hollow ships equipped with sniper beams and ice rays that slowly freeze everybody inside the target.

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Here's how a mission is supposed to go: you scientifically and maturely divide up the labour of flying the ship, with one player taking the helm and giving orders as captain. Another player takes charge of firing the turrets along the flanks. A third handles ship maintenance, transporting resources to your on-board fabricator, hand-cranking the warp core, trimming the engines when they overload, and deactivating fixtures where necessary to ensure there's enough power for the necessities. A fourth player enters the airlock, dons a jetpack and ventures outside the ship to investigate drifting structures, complete objectives, scoop up loot and perform external repairs. That's how it's supposed to go. Now, this is what actually happens.

Nobody can agree on who should be captain. The matter is resolved when one player seizes the controls and jumps to hyperspace - without giving anybody time to reach a secure jumpseat, which means that the rest of the team are obliterated by inertial forces. The dead players respawn, using up a big chunk of your ship's biomass reservoir, and immediately start arguing about who gets turret duty. Two of them decide to play gunner, which overtaxes the ship's power supply and triggers a bunch of circuit breakers. Instead of fixing them, the fourth player decides to explore outside - leaving the outer airlock door wide open - then promptly and predictably falls off the ship's hull and becomes flotsam, bleating for retrieval. All this, and you haven't encountered any enemy vessels yet.

A screenshot of Void Crew, showing the players performing tasks in a spaceship.
A screenshot of Void Crew, showing a ship jumping to hyperspace.
Image credit: Focus

It has the makings of a Real Hoot, though it definitely needs something extra to ascend to the status of one of our best space games. The Void Crew Early Access roadmap includes talk of boss battles. I'd also like to see some PvP, or perhaps even PvPvE, involving clever usage of the game's pleasantly busy maps. One of my favourite Sea of Thieves moments saw me luring a pursuing crew into a storm, then dousing my lanterns and doubling back behind them under cover of the elements. Grant me similar thrills, Void Crew, and I'll happily give you 20-30 hours of my time. If you like the idea of this, but don't have any co-op friends you're prepared to fall out with and hate forever, check out Voidtrain, which Rachel described as "a totally wild twist on crafting survival games".

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