As someone who’s a complete sci-fi nut and is quite interested in space travel and spaceship designs, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to Space Engineers, which is basically a creative survival sandbox game set in space.
Despite it being an Early Access title, I’ve had a surprising amount of fun with it. With the main focus of the game being to build either a ship or a station of some description, Space Engineers enables me to build spaceships whenever I feel inspired to do so, either in different configurations or for different functions.
I also can’t help but try to coax my friend into having dogfights in jury rigged starfighters, or tryhard survival sessions that frequently start but hardly ever finish, or even share mutual giddiness whenever another update comes out for it.
Ever since playing games like EVE Online, Homeworld 2 and Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, I’ve had a distinct affinity with spaceships, and I can recall many a time where I’d draw and design my own spaceships that I believe would work in a practical sense in reality, taking into account Newtonian physics and such the like.
With Space Engineers, I am able visualize how a spaceship might work in a practical sense, with the help of a strong batch of imagination of course. Since the game is currently incomplete, imagination does go a long way in deciding what is what when building a ship (unless you have the representative objects you needs via the game’s Workshop page on Steam).
Thankfully, spaceships in the game obey the laws of physics, which I certainly got a kick out of, because it meant I’d have to put thrusters on all the axis's in order to make the ship maneuver as I wanted it, instead of slapping a big-ass engine at the back and saying, “yeah, I don’t need engines at the front (or anywhere else for that matter) because I’m never going to stop ever.”
I blame Nexus: The Jupiter Incident for that, because ever since that game I’ve never been able to take any other ship design seriously, unless it has thrusters pointing in all directions in order to propel the ship in question (because I’m just incredible pedantic about that).
There’s also survival elements in the game as well, which adds to the experience in my opinion. In survival mode, like in any survival mode, you have to collect resources in order to survive. In the case of Space Engineers, you have to mine asteroids for raw materials, refine them into usable substances, and use those substances to either power your ship/station or build your ship/station.
The only downside to that is that you’re not in any real danger unless you recklessly zoom about the place or you happen to be stricken by an oncoming asteroid (which is an option you can configure in the game).
A workaround to this is that the game also has multiplayer, which can have several players in the one place, which adds to Space Engineer’s survival elements as everyone will be trying to survive either on their own or in alliances.
The best kick I get out of playing Space Engineers is building spaceships to a specific task, either for survival or for conflict, and challenging myself to try and build them to certain constraints, such as a compact size or large and formidable.
Then, to top it off, as a reward to myself, I make a copy of the finished ship and have them destroy each other for the hell of it--sometimes with me even piloting one.
Another thing about Space Engineers is just the sheer amount of creations players have been using in the game, which include recreations of iconic sci-fi ships and stations, and even some locations and unique maps as well. Hell, some of them are insane!
Space Engineers has the accolade of being my first (and probably last) Early Access game, and I’m happy to have bought into it when it was going on sale several months back.
I honestly can’t wait to see where the game goes further down its development, and I’m especially looking forward to the introduction of new blocks and mechanics--I would especially like to see explosive decompression and habitable atmosphere production.