ASTRONEER – Atmospheric space exploration sandbox

Explore vast space in the new indie title ASTRONEER. 

Starting my journey in a space pod.

What drew me into Astroneer was the visual style of the game. I fell in love with it after seeing other people playing it on livestreams. The game was released on Steam Early Access December 2016 and gained quite a lot of attention. Astroneer is a space exploration sandbox game that encourages the player to explore the space and build their base. I think it is polished looking for an early access game, but the developers have said it is ’pre-alpha’ and will have more features in the future.

The art style of the game can be described as cute and ’low poly’. I love how the colors are vivid and please the eye, and you can find different looking planets after building a spaceship. The planets have dynamic day and night cycle and also the weather changes from calm and chill to a deadly full blown sandstorm really quick. The world feels sometimes kind of empty, since there are no enemies or other living things I found while playing. One of the funniest things was to discover ’unknown’ objects and research them at the space station to learn new things to build in game.

Astroneer can be played single player or co-op with up to 4 players. Your friends can join the game and leave whenever so there is no need to start a new game every time. There are few commands such as waving for interacting with friends.

Meeting a friend in-game.

The user interface was pretty difficult to grasp at first, but when you understand it, it becomes logical and clear. It is quite minimalistic, so it doesn’t get into way while playing and there is no need to open the menu, because almost everything is done without using overlay. There is no separate inventory, but you can see the items in your backpack and can just grab them whenever. The inventory size is kind of small, so trips back to base often are necessary for collecting materials. The player character has a big tool in hand for collecting materials and shaping ground. From the left mouse button player can destroy the ground and collect the materials and with right button add ground, so it is possible to make amazing creations like people do in other sandbox games such as Minecraft.

Almost running out of oxygen watching this beautiful scenery.

After dying you spawn back to your base, and only lose the things you were carrying at the time. This enables exploration without too much worrying. One of the limits for your exploring is oxygen, which is refilled automatically when in the vicinity of your base. It is also possible to craft ‘tethers’ that provide oxygen for longer exploration trips. There is plenty to see both on the surface of the planets as well as under in deep caves. The balance between danger and safety is well-designed, so even though some things like poisonous plants may kill you, it is possible to prepare for them and play safe.

Personally one of my favorite things to do was to try to take beautiful screenshots. Overall the game provides breathtaking experiences for hours.

Developer: System Era Softworks
Publisher : System Era Softworks
Steam Early Access Release: December 2016
Platform: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One