Its taken a long time, but this game is finally starting to be worth it.
Long ago, in the age of myths, Starbound was first conceptualized as Terraria in space. Everyone rightly thought that that sounded like the best idea ever, and gave Chucklefish all of their money through an in-house version of kickstarter. In return for giving Chucklefish all of our money, they would throw in some more features into their game which would be out "soon". Fast forward to the present day and we've got one of those promised bonuses, sorta. (Novakids are finally in the game, but they're lacking some features of the other races)
I'm finally reviewing because the recent update has made the game feel like something approaching what could be called a full release. My rule on Early Access Games is don't buy unless you are happy with the game as is, and if the game would still be good if the devs all vanished over night. I don't know how many more features the devs plan to implement, but Starbound now has enough in it to be considered good.
The quest system is a welcome addition, particularly in how it functions as a tutorial through the early parts of the game. Unlike every other open world crafting game, you're not just dropped into the world and told only to "figure it out" with no direction. This can be both a good and or bad thing depending on how you see things. This is because certain quests serve as "checkpoints" to the open-ness of the world. For example, you're not getting off the starting world until you do a certain amount of mining and exploring. The game opens up more after that, but once again this is something you're likely to see as either good for slowly easing you into the world or bad for keeping you from just going hog wild in exploration of the galaxy. You're also not going to survive on certain planets unless you get your hands on suit upgrades that you're only going to get from certain quests.
As it stands, I think the whole quest system could use some work in that exploration of the sandbox is restricted by whether or not you have done certain quests to obtain upgrades needed to survive more than a few seconds in certain environments. I found myself more accepting of this once I stopped thinking of Starbound as "2D Minecraft in space" and as a game that placed more emphasis on the Metroidvania aspect. There is a decent variety of quets available, though there could stand to be more.
One thing I do love that more open world crafting games could stand to copy is your ship. In most open world crafting games, I'm reluctant to "settle down" and build anything greater than a mud hut for a base as I'm going to be spending most of my time out in the world, gathering resources or exploring. Starbound solves this by giving you a ship (whose size you can upgrade) to customize to your heart's content. It really lets you have the best of both worlds, as you can still go out and explore every planet and moon in the galaxy, yet as long as you're above ground you can easily beam back up to your base of operations.
Starbound still needs some work, and it shows, but as it stands now it has enough in it to keep you busy long enough to justify the price. Further updates can hopefully turn this from being just a "good" game into a great game.