Star Trucker made a big impression at this year’s Gamescom, with its Euro Truck Simulator 2 twist doing more than just generating buzz – the space trucking sim actually struck a chord with me as someone who hasn’t previously been a fan of the trucking sim genre. It’s an interactive space fantasy that does its concept justice, and I’m very much looking forward to playing more of it next year.
There’s a lot to take in with Star Trucker. Its central conceit – that we’re now travelling through space using giant trucks rather than cars – is immediately engaging, but developer Gammera commences Gamescom with a playable demo that immediately throws you in at the deep end. You’ve got deadlines to meet, unlockable perks to claim, and plenty of cargo to deliver – all while flying through space and battling the elements.
It’s easy to compare Star Trucker to existing trucking games like ETS2, but it’s also a surprisingly good fit for the spaceship sim genre, with its emphasis on deadlines and the need to repair, refuel, and resupply. The Action is played straight, however, and there’s no leaning into the absurdity that comes along with anything even remotely connected to Euro Truck Simulator – the roads have simply been replaced with gates that open and close, or you can fly the direct path if you’re feeling confident.
Much like you’d repair damage sustained to your car in Euro Truck Simulator, you can fix things yourself in Star Trucker, which leans into its ‘90s hard- sci-fi vibe by suggesting you can do simple maintenance like oil changes and spark plug replacement yourself, rather than having to visit a mechanic. That said, if you do sustain more significant damage then you’re going to have to visit a space station, where you can also buy new parts and resupply.
What I found most striking about my time with Star Trucker is how it just goes for it. It’s so clearly a game that takes the simulation and management elements of the trucking genre and applies them to a fantastical, space-faring setting, and just does it. There’s no winking at the camera, no attempts to lean into comedy – it’s just a game with a very big idea at its center, and it wholeheartedly commits to that.
That’s not to say it’s not fun, because it is. The truck in Star Trucker feels tactile and interactive, with various features to explore and use, even in the small demo space I’m given to play around in. I was able to find and trade smaller items, including bits of junk and other bits and pieces, while I even came across a floating planetoid that I could explore and mine, if I fancied the challenge. The demo showcased repairing, unloading cargo, and docking at a station, but I left wanting so much more.
The size of each destination and the hidden surprises in quieter parts of space are among the many things I’m desperate to explore, but I’m also absolutely sold on the flying mechanics. I was able to handle the intuitive and enjoyable flying with a controller, which is great because I’m usually more inclined to play these sorts of games with mouse and keyboard.
Star Trucker strikes a balance between ETS2 and Elite Dangerous, with a slower and more considered pace that does justice to the fantasy of being alone with your vehicle, working towards your destination. The fact that I’m left wanting to spend more time flying around space, as opposed to just going through the motions of delivering cargo, is a big win for Gammera.