As far as Rogue-lites go, I enjoyed the combat in this one a lot more than FTL because it felt a bit more interactive. More skill based survival than just a random battle simulator where you're heavily at the whim of fate.

You can't flee or strategically scope out battles, which was one of my big complaints about FTL too - but the mechanics do give you a good shot of winning, even against superior foes. In fact almost any enemies, even the basic ones, can soak a ton of damage - so you have to use the battlefield to your advantage.

Your convoy starts out with a main vehicle, which just drives itself infinitely in a straight line (and if it's destroyed then you lose), and two smaller assist vehicles that you can command to move around and target specific enemies. Mostly this involves shooting them, but you also have the ability to ram them and cause damage. Some upgrades enhance this damage, or make your ramming-vehicle take no damage, but often the basic ability alone is enough if you combine it with the terrain.

The map warns you with flashing red skulls which lanes have upcoming cliffs or canyons, and you position your vehicles so the enemies can't move out of the path of danger, or even ram them straight into its path if they aren't already in the proper lane. Using this tactic takes them out far more quickly than pinging away with your pitiful starting weapons.

The main vehicle in your convoy also has slots for upgrades, much like the smaller vehicles - except that the main vehicle can only equip super-weapons. Things like EMP bursts that disable enemy shields and guns temporarily - or giant lasers that do a ton of damage but have long cooldowns. Unfortunately these aren't very effective on their own, since the cooldowns are so long.

That was one of my main complaints - if you lose both of your smaller vehicles there aren't many opportunities to buy more, even if you have the money to afford them. Certain towns have them in the marketplace, but these are very few and far between - as are other random locations like the casino that may provide one. In other words - there's a 95% chance you'd die before getting to a place where you could buy another secondary vehicle.

Since the main vehicle is so weak even with super-weapons equipped, you'll only survive two or three enemy encounters, if you survive any at all. Having super-weapons at all isn't guaranteed, and if you don't have any offensive abilities then you just have to sit there and wait to die. That's a real drag, especially when you aren't in a bad spot resource -wise.

So in the end, I think there should be an ability to pay scrap at the end of a battle, or in the next town, to salvage your vehicles that have been destroyed. Because as long as you have offensive abilities this has quite a bit of potential, but without them it's pretty frustrating. Having towns be a bit closer might help too, although it's pretty satisfying getting the necessary fuel to keep going through combat wins. If there was a way to camp and repair your caravan while on the road, the massive distances and fuel costs between important objectives wouldn't be a problem at all.

(use the "minus" control in the bottom right of this gif, if you want to play it slower and read the quest text)

Right now it's not quite polished enough that I'd recommend it because of those issues, even though I enjoyed the combat and the Oregon-trail style non-combat encounters were fairly engaging. The solution may be to grind out a bunch of random encounters right around a starting town for a while, though that doesn't sound quite as fun.

Synopsis:I like the combat better than FTL, but the lack of local/mobile repair and almost total dependence on destroyable secondary vehicles mars it a bit.