Version Reviewed: 1.01
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Galactic Keep is easily one of the strangest role-playing games I've played in a long time, mainly due to its strange art style, deep sense of exploration, and unapologetic dedication to the experience of tabletop gaming. As it was developed over the course of six years, Galactic Keep is a labor of love that's both profoundly fun and interesting despite sporting its fair share of peculiarities and flaws.
Playing Galactic Keep is closest to what it's like to play a Dungeons & Dragons campaign but with more dice, one character, and a completely unfamiliar set of rules and lore. At the outset, everything is overwhelming to the point that it would be off-putting if it weren't all so intriguing and mysterious. Keeping that in mind, players can expect to die early and often in the game's current module. Over time though, they can upgrade their characters, find loot, and start wrapping their mind around everything.
In order to keep itfrom feeling too punishing, Galactic Keep's standard difficulty allows for players to recover from death quite easily. If a character dies, they only have to choose a new character to continue the mission. Further, if the new character reaches the spot where the old character died, they can pick up all of the loot the initial character left behind and resume the journey with very little progress lost.
From a mechanical standpoint, pretty much everything is governed by dice rolls. Movement is determined by a ten-sided die on the screen, players roll for initiative when entering combat, some story moments involve roll checks to perform particular actions, etc. As great as this all may seem to tabletop enthusiasts, this also slows down the pace considerably. This makes traversing single floors take upwards of an hour, which results in the first module (which is more-or-less a bizarre fetch quest) taking ten hours or more.
More than any single mechanic, Galactic Keep really shines in its overall weirdness. This primarily extends to the universe, which is populated with gaseous hive minds and aliens that resemble a cross between a buffalo, a bear, and an octopus. Exploration reveals a ton of flavor text for players that really fleshes out the world, though most of it isn't necessarily tied to the main narrative. It might not seem that touches like these can go a long way, but the way in which they're peppered throughoutmake exploring every inch of the environment feel a lot more satisfying.
After completing the first module, players can revisit that scenario with new or upgraded characters or even try the hardcore mode that makes character deaths permanent. Beyond that though, there is currently not much else to doafter completing a first run - besides wait for new modules to be released.
There should be little question as to whether Galactic Keep is worth picking up. It's a deep role-playing experience in a unique sci-fi world that's packed to the gills with little moments to make the world feel that much more compelling. It can be slow and confusing at times, yes, but itsoriginality and peculiarity are precisely what makes it so interesting and fun to spend time with.