If someone asks, "What game comes to mind when you think of space survival games?" perhaps nine out of ten would say No Man's Sky. It was released with huge expectations but turned into a big disappointment. After the release of No Man's Sky, space exploration adventure games have usually been met with low expectations and not much anticipation. This negative connotation has become a barrier for space exploration games.
However, there is a game that may redeem the genre, and expel the negative air around space adventure games. It's been a little while since this early access game came out, and the reviews on steam are overwhelmingly positive. Let's explore the universe of Astroneer.
The goal is to survive in space
The first thing you need to do in Astroneer is survive. From the space station, to down on the ground, to exploring another planet with a space pod, most of the activities are all bound to surviving on the planet.
Your territory is expanded around a base and tether. The basic objective of the game is to increase the range of your territory to every corner of the planet and to seek out research materials that help you gain new plans for crafting. The resources you gather are made into an extended base or research station, and you move forward to another planet to repeat the exploration adventure in a new environment.
The main content is pretty similar to other space survival games. However, Astroneer has variation in planetary nature and gravity, which are praiseworthy elements that few other games implement. When a sandstorm blows, all kinds of rocks and debris will hit you, and the gravity decreases as you dig further towards the center of the planet. The varying terrain and indigenous plants are combined with the colorful graphics to create a unique feeling.
Graphics and creative environments are commendable, but it lacks a lot of depth and tension considering its genre. You may have a little trouble in the early stages, but if you go beyond a certain point, you will be able to survive for a long period of time without any great risks. You can easily run down and pick up your items and equipment even if you die, so there is basically no penalty when you die in Astroneer. Overall, the game seems to focus on giving a relaxing experience rather than giving a tense one.
Craft and play with a magic gun
My first impression of this game was not so great. I thought this game was just a somewhat incomplete, mediocre early access game that still had a lot of development left. The thing is, it was fun enough even in this less complete state. It had a feeling similar to that of Minecraft Beta.
Although the genre is supposed to be survival, there is not much difficulty when it comes to surviving. It’s a little bothersome to go get the appropriate materials, but if you go along step by step, you will eventually complete all of your research. From this point on, you are only left with exploring other planets using your remaining resources, expanding bases, and collecting materials. It took about 3 to 4 hours for me to get to this point.
Paradoxically, the true value of Astroneer is revealed when the content is dried out. When there is nothing more to do, you can choose to either quit the game or stay in the world and do something crazy.
For those that choose the latter option, Astroneer prepared a magic gun to play around with. This is the terrain tool that controls the level difference and collects resources from the terrain.
Due to the limitations of the tool, it is impossible to create a perfectly detailed structure, but sometimes we can create something interesting by making something imperfect. Some can choose to make a Korin tower that rises up to the sky, and some others can choose to make a Tower of Conviction by shaving the mountains. There were some crazy people who shoveled a sink hole leading to the inner core, flattened all the terrain, and made slides coming from the sky to race with other players.
You're not alone: Simple multiplayer
Astroneer complements its insufficient content with sandbox elements and doubles the fun by supporting up to 4-player multiplayer. You can simply invite your friends through Steam Overlay and they will immediately fly in on a pod and play together. Since the player who invites gets to be the host, you don't need to go through typical steps like selecting a server or creating a room.
When you realize that you are not alone in this vast universe, Astroneer turns into a game that can be played with friends or even couples. It provides fun through collecting all research materials as well as creating your own bizarre structures. You can start a long-distance journey by molding a vehicle or making a multi-passenger cockpit. It all demonstrates the value and joy of adventuring together.
I can't wait until its official release!
Astroneer has great potential for fun, as it reminds me of playing with my friends on the playground when I was a child. Though it has a lack of tension as a survival game, System Era makes up for that shortage of tension with beautiful design and neat tools that allow players to express their imagination in creative ways.
Astroneer is still under development and has several bugs that can prevent pleasant play. However, since it is in an early access state, it should be judged by its potential for improvement in the future, and it’s showed plenty of possibilities in the publicly released alpha version. Numerous players are joining today and are playing the game together right now.
Rather than sending you out alone into a meaningless No Man’s universe, Astroneer sends you into the world full of potential and fun. If the bugs and flaws are fixed, this game has the potential to become a masterpiece of space exploration. There is a long way to go still, but at the very least, players can look forward to the completion Astroneer with positive expectations.