Keen Software House
Space Engineers is the cross between Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program that could rule us all
There may never be another video game with a title so perfectly tailored to capture my interest after Space Engineers. I saw this game pop up in my inbox this week, and my first thought was, “I’d like to give you money for this. Please and thank you.”
I wasn’t disappointed either as Space Engineers turned out to be an interesting game with as much potential as any other game I've seen this year. It’s still in the paid alpha stage, but this is a game you should have on your radar.
This is the demon spawn of Kerbal Space Program and Minecraft.
Engineers in space
Space Engineers looks right now approximately the same way Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program looked a few years ago when those games were just getting started. It’s basically just a sandbox creative mode with a couple dozen different objects and tools to play with. It's the basic framework that the game will build off of, but the bulk of the game has still yet to be implemented.
You begin the game as an engineer standing on a platform out in deep space in an asteroid field. From there, what you do is up to you. The game is in Creative Mode right now, so you can use your jetpack to fly around the level and build whatever you can imagine.
The power of Space Engineers is that it’s simple, powerful, and allows for plentiful experimentation all at the same time. You can build your first simple spaceship within five minutes of starting the game, but the tools at your disposal are also very malleable, and seeing what you can create with nothing but blocks, engines, lights, and a few weapons (and some other basic building tools) is really interesting.
Space Engineers inspires your imagination too. Throughout the game world there are derelict spacecraft that have been built using the same tools you have, and they’re often magnificent. There are space ships in the game so big that you can venture inside them and explore their inner rooms and functions.
This is part of what I mean when I talk about its potential. It’s already fascinating to see what people are able to build using this toolset. I saw on Steam Workshop that somebody made a replica (presumably not to scale) of Dead Space’s USG Ishimura. Trust me, within a few months somebody will make it to-scale. If there’s not a Battlestar Galactica replica yet, there will be soon. It’s going to be as fun watching these ships get built in Space Engineers as it was watching King’s Landing be recreated in Minecraft.
As mentioned, right now, Space Engineers is all about the Creative Mode, and it’s still a lot of fun to just start building something and see what it turns into. My creations have a bad/amazing habit of getting entirely out of control, and it was a lot of fun to see what I could get out of the tools. They were always ugly, but they were always mine, and I loved them for that.
What I really love about this game is what I’m hoping for the future though. It’s still just the beginning for Space Engineers, but there’s so much room to grow. How about a deathmatch mode where everyone has five minutes to build a ship, then battle? That has so much potential it makes my head spin.
One of my favorite moments of the game was when I ventured onto one of the large pre-built ships and noticed that it actually has a circuit control panel for every piece of electronics on the ship. You can get on-board the ship, turn off all the lights, shut down the gravity generator etc.
Instantly my mind jumped to a team deathmatch mode in which one player was piloting the ship in battle while the other person was sneaking aboard the other ship to sabotage its systems. This isn't a pie-in-the-sky hope either. The tools for these things are already in the game.
That’s the more intense hope for the game, but I also dream of being able to play with a few friends in a survival mode in which we need to build a base, harvest ores, and survive in deep space with limited resources. The best thing about Space Engineers is that they’ve built a very flexible framework that can be expanded in many different directions.
What will Space Engineers become? I have no idea, and that’s one of the most exciting parts about the new trend of games launching in paid-alpha builds. We’re going to get to watch this take shape over the coming years.
You’ll need to really enjoy building things in games like Minecraft and Terraria to get much out of Space Engineers at the current time, but this game will also appeal to the Kerbal Space Program fans who like to experiment with nutty rocket constructions.
At the current time, Space Engineers isn’t worth the time or money for most gamers any more than a piece of blank canvas is worth it for art afficionados, but this is a title that you need to keep on your radar because its journey could be amazing.