RPG of the Year 2015 Runner-Up: Galactic Keep

By Kelsey Rinella 18 Dec 2015 0
I attack the darkness. I attack the darkness.

Galactic Keep would earn its place in our 2015 wrap-up purely for having virtues so different from those of other games, even other role-playing games. That it delivers so completely on those virtues brings it into the RPG of the Year category, rather than merely ending up in the grab-bag of notable oddities we’re still thinking about. Combat isn’t a massively complex tactical masterpiece (though it does reward attentive play), maneuver is crucial but basic, intricate dialogue trees are notably absent, and characters are pre-generated, leaving little sense of authorship over their identity to the player. Many role-playing fans find those to be their greatest sources of joy in the genre, and Galactic Keep’s refusal to cooperate doubtless contributes to its polarizing nature.

Instead, Rob Lemon comes off as the greatest high school DM in history. Everything in the game is hand-drawn, like the maps friends made for one another back before you could do all this on a computer, and what you see isn't always lovely. These extraterrestrials aren’t like Vulcans—just humans with a bit of makeup and an odd character trait—they’re as likely to resemble the sentient lichen of Interstellar Pig as your neighbor. The world is mysterious, revealed in snippets of evocative description and suggestive discoveries, not laid bare in glorious three-dimensional renderings. That there is so much of it, and it hangs together with such unforced, old-school style, makes its creation feel like a sign that we were always more free than we thought.

Galactic Keep is what happens when a brilliant, creative kid ignores all the pressure to stop doing cool stuff and grows up.

To see all of the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2015 Awards, visit the 2015 Awards Index page.
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