You’re maybe wondering why this article isn’t a review of Space Engineers, and there are three reasons for this:
- I felt it better for an opinion piece;
- The game is over two years old;
- I can see so much promise to this game that I can’t deliver on.
The last part may sound strange, but I will explain! This game has so much scope. It’s a sandbox survival game, set in space (or on alien worlds) and if you haven’t guessed by the title, you’re a space engineer and you can build anything you can think of. There are community worlds you can join and play together, or you can go solo. However, when it comes to building, I ran into a few problems, the main one being me! In my mind I have all these designs and ideas which I just don’t have the skill to build, and because I found the game’s systems very complicated and the construction elements a bit of a faff, I struggled when I tried to build anything more complex than a large square.
I did the first scenario in Space Engineers that’s suggested which starts you off by giving you some basics along with some combat. I enjoyed this opening, but could tell early on I may struggle with this – turns out, my early thoughts were right! When landing on the world, the whole point is to survive. You can mine for resources, though what do you do with this or how do you get it back to the base you have built? Well, you can create your own vehicle, which can be a land vehicle or an air vehicle. The game wants you to invent them or invent anything in general that will help you survive, however this may lead to problems, so the solution is to invent devices that will help you like any engineer would. These are things like automated tools e.g. automatic miners, conveyer system, etc.
Resources are key as without them, you can’t make much of anything. This leads to a lot of micro-managing as you could run out of resource whilst building a solar panel, leading to further time spent in the menus and going back to your base where your cargo is. All of this will require power as well. How you get that is based on what you make – do you want solar panels or traditional reactors? This would be your choice as you’re the creator and Space Engineers offers up the options. Most of the creation comes from base building and once you’re done with that, you may choose to venture into space. You can of course make your own spaceship too. I never got this far due to my complete inability to make such a thing! When you are in space though, if you fancy building a space station, that’s possible too! You will also run into space pirates, thus creating the space combat. In the opening mission I did, you get to experience a bit of this which was fun yet over very quickly. There isn’t enough words or pages that can describe just how much in this game is buildable. The problem is, it’s too time consuming and if simplicity is what you’re after this isn’t it?
Unfortunately, Space Engineers was immediately overwhelming. It sounds great on paper that you can make everything, and whilst it is a lot fun at times, as the game is so big in scope it falls over itself with the complexities. I would say if you do have the time though and love making every detail for every inch of a base and everything that comes with a base, then this game is for you. The possibilities are vast and there is also huge community support with some great designs out there. However, if you are after simplicity and want to throw a base together quickly or a ship of your own, you might want to rethink that. In the end, I think part of the problem may have been me! Nonetheless, Space Engineers left a good impression as I have not seen any game allow this much creativity on this level.
A game code for Space Engineers was provided by Keen Software House’s PR team, and the game is available from Steam or on Xbox One/Series X for around £16.