SPACE ENGINEERSEarly Access Review
Space Engineers is a game about building, and surviving. From afar you could say this game is similar to the popular indie title, Minecraft. However upon a closer, more detailed inspection, the titles only share two similarities. They are, of course, custom construction and an open world environment in which to build or explore.
Space Engineers is everything a child born in the early 80's and late 90's could want, jam packed into an ever evolving and ever changing environment. If you've ever seen one of the more popular Sci-Fi space series/movies, you'll understand right away. Most sandbox construction games, like Minecraft, have simplistic dynamics and challenges. However, in a game like Space Engineers, one could easily find themselves in a very serious predicament. Rather than having to worry about food and shelter, the player instead must worry about energy reserves, materials and resources, and (as of the latest update: 1.076) oxygen reserves.
Now, on the outside these are very simple things. However, anything can happen. As with Murphy's Law, which finds itself very deeply rooted in this game, if it can happen, it will. Case in point, you could be inside your sealed up station building a ship in your hanger. Your helmet is off, you're breathing the oxygen in your hangar, happily building away on your newest ship. Your buddy was just out mining and has just returned home. He doesn't know you are in the hangar (which is pressurized, hence why your helmet is off), he opens the door to bring his ship in to dock. This depressurizes the entire hangar and now you are inside, suffocating to death because your friend has just vented all the precious oxygen into space by accident. This emphasizes safety precautions and other means by which the player can ensure that accidents, don't happen.. well, at least not as much.
The only enemies you have are yourself, and other players. However, there is a simple form of hostile in the game. These are NPC ships which, for the most part, wont bother you at all. Unless you try to board them and steal their resources. Then the only thing to stop you are the exterior turrets and well... the ship itself if you happen to be flying too fast towards it. Hostile AI Engineers have yet to be introduced into the game, but many players (myself included) are looking forward to some form of AI, be it hostile or friendly.
The game has two game modes, Creative Mode, and Survival Mode. Creative mode is good for people who prefer to build things rather than worry about materials and their survival. Creative mode, is just that, infinite resources and all the reason in the world to build whatever you want. However it goes beyond that in Space Engineers. Your options are not just limited to building ships and stations. You can build asteroids as well. Space Engineers uses a Voxel based generation system for their asteroids and the destruction physics, which we will get to later on. The Voxel system has made it possible for players to edit asteroids to the point of custom space rocks that look like Vin Diesel. But it doesn't just have to end there, this system allows players unlimited creativity, even to the point of changing the very material that the asteroid is made of. You can choose between every resource that is available in the game! However, at current, Voxel editing is only available in Creative Mode.
Now on to one of the most prominent features in the game, destruction. Everything in the game is capable of being destroyed, warped, borked, bent, and misshapen. If you build a ship and fly it into a rock, chances are you will destroy your ship, if not, your going to be in for a world of hurt when your mechanic sends you the repair bill. This destruction system opens up entire worlds of possibilities for the way the game is played.
Remember earlier when I mentioned exterior turrets? Well, there you have it, weapons. Ranging from a hand held assault rifle to ship mounted rocket launchers. You can have manual systems like gatling guns and rocket pods, or automatic systems, like gatling turrets and rocket turrets. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. Each can be utilized in its own way and the customization options for these weapons allow for nearly infinite possibilities when it comes to combat.
This game has it all, and with Keen Software House (KSH) putting out an update every Thursday, there's no end to what it contains or what will change. If you like construction games, open world exploration, strategic challenging survival scenarios, or just like space. This is the game for you. Currently it is only available on PC in early access from Steam, or directly from KSH's website. However, console gamers need not fret. Keen is keen to get it released on console sometime in the not so near future.