Space Engineers – Review
Follow Genre: Sanbox, Sci-fi
Developer: Keen Software House
Publisher: Keen Software House
Platform: PC, Xbox One
Tested On: PC

Space Engineers – Review

Site Score
7.5
Good: Great amounts of freedom
Bad: Lots of grinding for materials
User Score
9.0
(1 votes)
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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Sandbox games are a popular genre thanks to the freedom they provide their players with, often by allowing unlimited creation. While several of such games exist with space as a setting, few of them provide the ability for players to build and customize their own ships from scratch. Space Engineers is the exception to this, providing deep building and physics systems for players to explore to their heart’s content.

Story

Due to the complete sandbox nature of the game, Space Engineers does not contain a story or campaign per se for players to follow. That said, there are several optional pre-made scenarios that come included with the game which do provide stories alongside doubling as tutorials; mostly consisting of a shallow narrative to explain the basics. More could have been done, but given the genre of the game, we do not really mind.

Graphics

Made in a simple 3D style, Space Engineers is a rather good-looking game somewhat let down by the lack of uniqueness and monotony of its environments. While a few different planets and environment types exist, they mostly come down to ice-covered, vegetation-covered and deserts, with the terrain generation being the only thing changing from one to another. Luckily, the game makes up for these flaws by featuring a good amount of different buildable structures for players to mess with, generally with unique shapes and these are also re-colorable.

That said, Space Engineers does have a few other flaws, mainly coming from the janky rendering of textures and lighting. This is noticeable by certain renders just not working or loading, or the lighting being totally off base. In the case of the latter, the lighting, it is the most egregious with darkness coming upon the player as soon as they set foot in the smallest hole, regardless of the angle towards the sun.

Sound

The game’s sound design is rather good, with a decent soundtrack and SFX. That said, the soundtrack itself is relegated to the background, with the sound effects taking the spotlight. Including a great variety of different sounds, most are quite accurate to the machinery they attempt to replicate, although this does mean plenty of them become white noise soon enough.

Gameplay

As already mentioned, Space Engineers belongs to the sandbox genre, allowing players to build whatever they may desire with a wide assortment of structures fitting for its sci-fi setting. Before starting the game, players will be given a selection of different scenarios, some containing a basic story and others just prepared for easier or harder beginnings.

Once the game actually commences, if the player has selected the scenario intended for Survival mode, they will begin in a random planet alongside a pod containing the basic stations. These include the Survival Kit, which doubles as a crafting station and healing bay, but also an oxygen and hydrogen generator and a battery to power them. Alongside this, players will be outfitted with a few different tools, including a Welder, a Grinder and a Mining Drill. The first two are utilized to create and destroy blocks respectively and the latter serves to mine the environment. Additionally, players will have the ability to fly with their jetpack and are capable of quickly traversing the environment. All of this equipment will also depend on the energy stored in the player’s suit, which also serves to keep the player alive on planets without oxygen, thus requiring some level of management.

With the initial stations and their building tools, players will be ready to start mining stones and processing them in the Survival Kit in order to obtain materials, the most important being iron. From there on, as players construct more stations and structures, they will slowly accrue new recipes, some of which will require special materials obtained from different ores or even new stations in order to be crafted.

The general gameplay loop will consist of players mining for resources, before dumping them into their Survival Kits or later in Refineries for processing, then proceeding to use the output for building materials or tools. In order to optimize the process, players will have several options at their disposal, including upgrading their drill to be faster or building mining vehicles. In order for vehicles to function, they will also need to be powered, which can easily be done by outfitting them with generators such as solar panels or simply by adding batteries and charging them in the base.

Throughout the game, players may also encounter different other things, including three types of enemies and a few random events. While the enemies are rather irrelevant, providing nothing but a threat to the player with no reward and only in certain conditions, random events include mysterious signals often resulting in crates with materials or even meteor showers, which will create craters in the player’s world.

Other than Survival mode, Space Engineers also features a Creative Mode where players may build to their heart’s content with all available blocks. In this mode, health, oxygen, and hydrogen are no longer a concern and players will be able to simply do as they see fit. For those willing to dip their toes into programming, the game also features Programmable blocks, capable of running scripts in the C# language.

Conclusion

While Space Engineers is a great sandbox game offering loads of options to its players, it lacks in all departments besides building. With a complete lack of NPCs and irrelevant enemies, Survival Mode’s gimmick is reduced to grinding for ores in order to build and occasionally die by crashing with the jetpack. For those interested in creating intricate designs in a sci-fi setting, Space Engineers can easily be recommended, but those looking for any semblance of an adventure will mostly likely not find it here. At €16.99/$19.99/£15.49, the game is rather affordable and offers a good amount of content for its price, especially taking into account the possibility to install user made mods.

Personal Opinion

“While I did enjoy and can appreciate what Space Engineers offers, it is definitely not the game for me. I very much enjoy building large factories and optimizing them as much as possible, but I need an end goal and this game did not provide that for me. In contrast, the friend I was playing with ended up getting hooked by the game again, building a massive structure and coming with more and more convoluted plans. Those like me who need something to strive towards may find themselves in the same situation, while more creative minds might be delighted by the game.”

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Space Engineers - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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