I’ve had my eye on Affordable Space Adventures for a while now. Though, to be honest, I really only had on my radar in casual passing. It’s a game I’m interested in playing, but I’d never  dug into it in a meaningful way to learn more before today at PAX East.

Here I am, a fresh hour off of roughly 30 minutes of playtime, and I’ve found myself exceptionally excited for this Wii U title. The good news? I won’t be waiting long to play it again; Affordable Space Adventures will sell starting April 9 on the Wii U eShop.

Developer Knapnok Games brought what seemed to be a nearly complete build of the game with them to PAX East. I played it with a co-pilot, in a fashion that I think will be the way most players should play. This single player adventure can be taken in tandem, you see, and one player uses the GamePad to serve as the engineer while the other steers the ship and fires the limited weaponry with a traditional controller.

I was on the GamePad for this demo. As the engineer, my responsibilities centered around controlling the ship’s mechanical functions. In Affordable Space Adventures, you’re meant to explore space without disturbing the environment too much. There’s a specific reason for that in the context of the game, but for the purpose of the demo, we were shown that we need to scan certain traps in order to avoid tripping alarms.

Traps react to how much noise, heat and electricity your ship generates. If you’re using the combustion fuel driven engine, you’re likely producing a lot of heat and sound. The electricity engine produces, well, electricity. Traps can sense this, and the engineer needs to adjust outputs and engine types constantly in order to give the pilot a way to navigate through these trap-driven puzzles.

All of that happens on the GamePad. You essentially have an interface that smartly tells you which side effects lead to which mechanism. Even further, adjusting mechanisms will allow you to float more easily, speed through sections or, in the case of some puzzling moments, drop like a rock down a hole.

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When you’re playing this game solo, you’re responsible for everything. You’re the engineer and the pilot, and that means the GamePad is home to steering, firing and engine controls. Sounds rough, but I can dig it.

Affordable Space Adventures seems really cool, and it’s easily one of the best uses of the Wii U’s GamePad I’ve ever encountered. If not the best, then certainly among the most inventive.

We’ll have more on the game as it comes. We’ve also signed up for review copy distribution, so we’ll have some coverage in that fashion as well if and when we receive our copy. Stay tuned.