Blue Collar Astronaut review for PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC, Xbox One, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U
Publisher: Mutated Software
Developer: Mutated Software
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

As is much, much less often the case, the retro games inspiring Blue Collar Astronaut go back a little further than NES or SNES. In fact, its roots can be found in the dawn of gaming, in the Lunar Lander-style games that dotted the collective landscapes of early consoles and console predecessors like the Atari, the ZX Spectrum, and Commodore 64. The graphics may be significantly better, and there may be more of a story (nearly all of which can be summarized just by reading the game’s name), but at its core, Blue Collar Astronaut isn’t all that different from the titles that inspired the earliest gamers.

Of course, because its antecedents and its required skills are so specific, it should come as no surprise that this game is probably only going to appeal to a certain subset of people. Appreciating Blue Collar Astronaut demands that you’ve got not only a deep and abiding love for physics-based games, but also a high tolerance for frustration. After all, we’re talking about a game that requires near-perfect precision right when you launch your spacecraft, but where you don’t discover whether your trajectory is correct until it’s pretty much too late to change anything. With a set-up like that, it should come as no surprise that constant failure is a feature in this game, not a bug.

As with most games coming from that kind of mindset, it shouldn’t be too shocking to learn that the game doesn’t go out of its way to help you, either. There is a tutorial — one that gets pretty lengthy if you want it to be, in fact — but it doesn’t change the fact that the controls are kind of clunky. Blue Collar Astronaut may expect that players be able to turn quickly, accelerate at just the right speed, and land without exploding, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to make any of those things easy to do.

As someone who wants a bit of handholding in my games, I’ll freely admit that this made it difficult for me to enjoy the game. At the same time, however, I fully recognize…a few things, actually. First, space travel is difficult, so any time you need to think about the physics of it — even in a video game — it’s going to get a little challenging. Secondly, and more important, those lunar landing games still appeal to some people, even if they don’t appeal to me. I’m just going to assume that that niche will be satisfied with what’s on offer in Blue Collar Astronaut, and figure that I don’t like it too much because it’s not made with someone like me in mind.

Grade: B-