You're the AI of a rickety colony ship, bound for the red planet. You have limited resources, a desperate crew, and an unknown fate awaiting you. Can you survive the journey across the Big Black?
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Release Date: Nov 14, 2016

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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“Destination Ares is core-feature-complete, and has enough opportunities for player experimentation to be a worthwhile game. Every aspect of development has seen at least some attention, and, as such, it's a full game in it's own right. However, it's lacking many critical components like varied event content, well-tuned balance, and polish.

Though it's been in full-time development for over two years, it's not done.

I'm a solo dev. Getting and acting on player feedback will be an important part of making Destination Ares the best it can be. I can't anticipate all the ways the game flounders or shines. It needs more hands pushing it to find all the sweet spots. I need to hear from the community: what do you love and what do you need worked on the most?

And that's not to mention: little bugs are everywhere, and major bugs still crop up occasionally.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“Likely 6 - 12 months.

Once content, features, and balance are in a good place, the game will transition to full release.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“In addition to the game's overall polish (which should improve over time), there's a large list of features and content that will hopefully make it to the full release.

Particular items of interest I'd like to add, given the time:
  • New story arc(s)
  • New random events, both Standard and Helpful
  • Achievements, with Steam integration
  • Unlocks + meta game
  • Stats and Leaderboards
  • Steam trading cards
  • Workshop features (perhaps sharing ship designs?)
  • New ways to customize ships and crew (crew personalities, for example)
  • New ship systems
  • New system keywords and crew roles
  • And, additional 'subtle content', like module decals, crew chatter, animations, and hull extensions

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“The core features of the game are in place.

You can:
  • Challenge yourself with the journey to Ares
  • Experience one story arc with a couple paths and several endings
  • Build and customize your own ships from scratch, and then play them

The soundtrack is fully implemented, the art is fleshed out, the menus are mostly functional, the crew has all the basic behaviors, and the game is roughly balanced.

However, the game is buggy and lacks some content.

Currently, there is only a small pool of events, repetitive crew chatter, little-to-no Steamworks integration (cards, achievements, stats, etc.), missing sound effects, limited crew animations, and no unlocks / meta game.

Also, bugs are rampant, certain screens are terribly unoptimized, and menus (among other things) often lack polish.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“There will likely be a significant price bump towards the end of Early Access, once critical issues are addressed.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“The community's input will focus and direct development.

Destination Ares has had over two years of closed development. In that time, I've prioritized key features according to my own tastes. Going forward, outside input will be instrumental in making the game the best it can be.

The game's Steam forums will be a focal location for the feedback that directs development.”
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Recent updates View all (11)

April 24

0.6.1 !!!

Hey all! This has been in the works for a few weeks. It was delayed a week due to an engine bug that has now been worked around. Progress continues!

Notably, this fixes that super annoying tone in the minigame. Sorry about that bug.

It also adds some cool new effects, reworks overdrive, and has a ton of other fixes and minor changes.


(I originally shadow-released this fix without notes)
  • Fixed the victory achievements so they don't trigger from the tutorial

  • Upgraded to Unity 5.6

  • Added a type header to the event pop up, in addition to the border coloring
  • Added an easier and faster build pipeline. It took a while to set up, but now updates will push out much more easily
  • Added crew portraits in ship building
  • Added menu selection responsiveness to crew portraits
  • Added system keyword: Hardened — +2 Durability when overdriven
  • Added system keyword: Performant — +2 Output when overdriven
  • Added a delay between songs, music should no longer be constant
  • Added wave effect when someone/ something takes damage. Its bigger for more significant things, like dying

  • Removed current and effective speed numbers when tooltips set to "Simple"
  • Reduced constant bleating of alarms. "Supposed to be annoying" got too annoying
  • Reduced the volume of Warning alarms
  • Increased UI SFX a bit

  • Changed alarm SFX to diegetic. This also happens to make them all quieter
  • Changed disabled buttons that say "Inert System" to say "Passive System", to match a terminology change last patch
  • Changed Food tooltip so it's more clear that a Kitchen is required for the crew to consume — not create — food
  • Changed how overdrive works: it stays on when the system takes damage and becomes Strained, and it can be turned on at Strained
  • Changed ship building so you can only add one keyword to a system. Note: old ship designs retain the second keyword (if you put one)... but you can no longer change it

  • Fixed crashes from not letting the Steam Manager boot up (shouldn't have affected players)
  • Fixed crew body parts overlapping inconsistently. Now when crew overlap, it's all or nothing
  • Fixed bug where audio wouldn't play occasionally
  • Fixed hydroponics system portrait: it has its outline!
  • Fixed the minigame clock beep being a constant tone (whoops!)
  • Fixed error in menu screen that prevented hungry and dead mouths from appearing
  • Fixed resource icons jumping about on creation

One final side note: I'm changing my numbering system to simple increments from now on. It means bugfix-only patches won't be as apparent. However, it's easier to manage and keep consistent (each build is either a minor or major increment!).

Enjoy or whatever

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March 30

Cloud Saving and ACHIEVEMENTS!! (v0.6.0)

This has been a long time in the making. I'm proud to present version 0.6.0: "Achievements!"

This patch focuses on a bunch of Steam API integration. You'll now find gameplay stats and scores tracking on the Steam, saves being pushed to Steam's cloud and shared among the computers you use the same Steam account with, and, most importantly, 48 gorgeous/awesome/wtf-is-that-poop achievements unlockable through Steam (in-game menu TBD).

This represents a significant milestone in DA's development, though there's undoubtedly a ways to go. As such, a longtime promise will also be coming down the pipeline:

The price of Destination Ares will go up soon.

Expect it to go up again, once more, before the full release.

It's time for the notes!

  • Added option to delete ship designs
  • Added Steam Cloud saving and syncing
  • Added some new stats
  • Added Steam Stats syncing
  • Fixed the secret Feast event so it actually feeds crew, rather than just healing them
  • Made a few minor code improvements
Added and Enabled the following Steam Achievements (current count: 48):
  1. "Redside" - Get to Ares, with any ending.
  2. "Fireball" - Reach Ares in 30 days or less.
  3. "Artifical Genetics" - Discover crew customization.
  4. "Overclocking" - Discover system customization.

  5. "Anthropomorphization"
  6. "Space Station Perennial"
  7. "Veritable Tortuga"
  8. "Ghost Ship"
  9. "The Void"
  10. "Departing Consciousness"
  11. "Shooting Star"
  12. "Clobbered Together"
  13. "Architect of Destiny"
  14. "Certificate of Fallibility"
  15. "Decommissioned"
  16. "Failure Mk II"
  17. "Impulsive"
  18. "Think Minesweeper"
  19. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Red Planet"
  20. "Fear is the Mindkiller"
  21. "Kill Your Friends"
  22. "The Arean Trail"
  23. "Shattered Dreams"
  24. "Aspirations of Panspermia"
  25. "Ruination"
  26. "Unfortunate"
  27. "Oxygen is Required"
  28. "Meatbags are Weak"
  29. "Nosleep =/= Noclip"
  30. "Gross Biology"
  31. "Aborted Dreams"
  32. "Insufficient Medical Services"
  33. "Industrial Strength Sleeve-Catcher"
  34. "Harrowed Mind"
  35. "Space Needs More Rubber"
  36. "Anticlimactic Results for Uninspired Efforts"
  37. "Odds Against"
  38. "A Man Overboard"
  39. "For Love"
  40. "Just a Tool to Them"
  41. "Blackout and Burn-In"
  42. "The Search Begins"
  43. "Bread and Salt"
  44. "Solution: Plants"
  45. "Embrace Insanity"
  46. "Unaccountably Peckish"
  47. "Moonshine in the Starshine"
  48. "Time Dilation"

Good luck collecting 'em all!

One final note: I wasn't able to test everything. If you encounter issues with certain achievements, or have weird crashes (you shouldn't, but I can't guarantee that on 32-bit), please let me know!

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About This Game

A colony spaceship has been thrown together with old, worn parts. The crew boots up the ship's artificial intelligence as they start the arduous journey to the red planet.

You've awoken, AI. Can you survive the journey ahead?

Destination Ares is an unforgiving resource-management sim, wrapped in a pensive story. As the ship's AI, it's your job to keep the crew alive, against all odds and obstacles (including themselves).

After all,
  • Everything breaks eventually
  • The crew members have minds of their own
  • And you're in a race against dwindling resources

Discover hidden story arcs, ponder the meaning of your existence, and panic as another system breaks down. All this while you laugh at (and cry over) a crew that is woefully incompetent.

Unique Gameplay

At your disposal, you have direct control over all of the ship's systems. Turn them on, turn them off, or throw them into overdrive. You can also set alarms on everything and everyone, just to make sure the crew pays extra attention.

Every resource is critical to your success. Even waste is important in the recycling loop.

Eventually, you'll run out of everything. What are you willing to give up first?

Events regularly pop up to throw a wrench in your plans. Sometimes it's random drama amongst the crew, sometimes it's another key step in your journey, and, if you're lucky, sometimes it's a nice chance to catch your breath. Each event poses a challenge to be overcome. Will you trust in luck? Or will you do your best to solve the problem yourself?

There's a catch:

The crew members are independent beings. You can't directly control them. They're also fickle, needy, and liable to mess everything up. Despite all that, only they can do any real work onboard. You'll have to rely on them, so treat them well.

Features and Themes

Engaging Mechanics
  • Deeply involved resource management. Recycle resources through a meticulously fleshed-out loop that has several outputs and few inputs.
  • Travel determined by speed, heading, and acceleration based on real physics.
  • Unforgiving permadeath, plus a memorial to past attempts!
  • Heavy customization: create your own crew, build your own ship, plan your own system layouts, and allocate your own starting resources.

Careful Design
  • Crew behavior (NPC AI) that makes you want to give up on humanity.
  • Branching story arcs with secret possibilities. Multiple outcomes and endings every step of the way.
  • Self-balancing difficulty: events will change in frequency based on performance. For example, helpful events come along more often for players falling behind. Take that, RNG.

Stylistic Art
  • Retro pixel graphics with a unique twist and copious modern effects, taking full advantage of today's advanced tech.
  • Judiciously desaturated color scheme. (Candy colors are for candy games)

Great Themes
  • Dark humor.
  • Nonviolent gameplay.
  • Struggles come from within. No aliens, no competitors. It's just you and your crew in desolate space.
  • Lose capability over time. You're no farmboy-turned-hero; play smarter, because you certainly won't get stronger.

Natural Accessibility
  • Light, adaptable controls. Play with only a mouse, or take advantage of the many hotkeys. Your call.
  • Simple interfaces for a complicated simulation. Plenty of tooltips to peek under the hood, if that's your style.
  • Short game sessions; each run takes less than an hour (sometimes much less).
  • Inherently red-green colorblind ready.

Built with Dedication
  • Lovingly handcrafted by one developer over years of blood, sweat, and tears.
  • Intended as a living title; expect updates throughout early access and maybe beyond.

Amazing Music
  • All original tracks by R Kim Shultz, a composer plucked straight from the film industry.

System Requirements

    • OS: XP SP2+, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, +
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Storage: 300 MB available space

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