Space Engineers is the new Voxel-Based sandbox game developed by Keen Software House, a company who has only made Miner Wars beforehand. Heading into the genre and scene of Minecraft and Cube World where you explore the world and can chip away at the surrounding areas and build up buildings or equipment using blocks. Will the jump into space come with new technology and excitement for this type of game?
There isn’t any story so far in the current build of the game, but it does come with several different starting difficulties and locations. From a starting platform with zero to 5 ships or even a starting world with a crashed ship in the side of an asteroid, there is the opportunity for self-created stories.
Space Engineers is mainly a spaceship engineering, construction and maintenance game, where you build a ship from the base shape, the insides and the devices that power your ship and are powered by your ship. With several different purposes of ship design, ranging from Mining or welding ships to big Ship Destroyers with Gatling guns, missiles and projectile weapons there is a lot on your plate to deal with.
Besides ship creation you also have the ability to create docking stations, landing platforms, asteroid collection bowls, automated machinery and space stations to your mind’s eye. If you think of it you can most likely build it, even down to a machine that propels rocks at your enemies at astronomical speeds.
Movement is done within a 3D space, using your jetpack to go “Up” and “Down” and using your Jetpack to propel you towards or away from any given direction. This approach to free movement is only seen within the Space setting, or similarly in Attack On Titan which flings you through the air. At first it can be rather difficult to get around and the Directionless environment is very confusing to start off with, but as you move, mine and build you grow accustomed to the control scheme.
Being in space there are no Directions per se, which is what makes the building so fun and confusing at all times. From start to build a station or platform you simply select a block to build then place it somewhere in space, then placing adjacent blocks to that one to make a path or “floor”. The same building mechanic goes for ships, make the base block, then build on that, from the bottom of the ship to its landing gears, engines and cockpit. Though since it is in space, one wrong nudge and your little Dingy will be rotating and floating off in any number of directions.
In the game you can kind of “force” a direction in space with the help of Gravity Generators, where you specify where the gravitational pull is, the radius is affects and the power of the pull rating in G’s. The gravity works in tandem with the physics engine in the game, allowing rocks and minerals to fall towards the gravitational centre or direction and ships or objects with enough mass will also be drawn in the direction.
An example of one type of play, type is making a huge mining ship, or several small Drilling ships for multiplayer, that digs into the side of an asteroid. Whilst it digs you can have a platform below the asteroid with gravity generators and walls to catch any loose minerals and rocks, then have collectors to suck those up into tubes to be automatically processed, refined and put into an Assembler to make new parts.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
There is no sound or music in space, which is fine for the most part, but Space Engineers, goes ahead of the times and science with some appealing songs that make the dull mining trips less dull and amp up the excitement in ship battles. The sounds are also very realistic sounding, with drills and grinders that remind me of what I hear on TV or passing construction sites.
The physics and the mechanics in this game go far and beyond what other creative games can do or aspire to; with Mods being similar to Space Engineers it is a welcome sight to see the actual game like this.
If you like building big complexes, love building ships and crashing them into one another or simply a fan of Sci-Fi/Realistic space travel you will enjoy Space Engineers. With updates coming out several times a month there isn’t a lack of content generation or bug fixing to be found, with new fixes and additions every week or so.