Red Nova, the space shooter released back in December 2010, has gotten a massive new update that brings an entirely new mode to the game. While the basic gameplay mechanics in Episode 2 - Mercy are the same as in Episode 1, the objective is entirely different. The player is in a starfield with the alien mothership and a fleet of disabled ships along with the flagship Red Nova. The goal is to rescue the people on the disabled ships and to ferry them back to the Red Nova so that the ship so that they can escape. Meanwhile, the alien mothership is launching fighters that will attack both the player and the defenseless ships. The player is the only thing that stands between survival and failure.
The game takes place in two waves: for 60 seconds, the mothership launches their forces, including a large explosive device that will heavily damage the ships unless the player takes it out first. Then, for 90 seconds the mothership recharges, which gives the player time to take out any enemy forces left over, and to start picking up people from the deactivated ships and delivering them to safety at the Red Nova. The goal of the game is to try and rescue as many people as possible without dying.
This is almost a completely different game from Episode 1; whereas that was about short-term survival and making one frenzied last stand, this is more of an endurance run. The enemies not always targeting the player means that survival is a bit easier, and damage tends to accumulate over a longer period of time. However, there's a lot more to deal with in Episode 2, and new strategies to employ. Do players use their energy to repair their shields or to take out enemies that are assaulting the fleet? Do players start picking up people from nearby ships, or travel to the further outreaches to pick up people, only returning them on the next recharging phase? If players stray too far from the mothership, then they risk not getting back to there before the enemies become too spread out. It's an intense experience, one that plays familiarly but in reality is quite unlike what came before it.
As promised back when developer Colin Walsh was on The Portable Podcast, Red Nova: Episode 2 - Mercy is now available as a free update to current Red Nova owners. As well, the bulky but tough ST-10 Raven that players use in Episode 2 is now playable in Episode 1.