Looking for a base building game set on an alien planet where you explore your surroundings, monitor your oxygen levels and other equipment? System Era Softworks’ Astroneer has got you covered. In a Minecraft meets No Man’s Sky-esque game, be prepared to go on an addicting journey.
The story behind Astroneer is as simple as the shuttle’s first landing on the alien planet of Sylva. You’ll have to use your trusty ray gun and it’s many features to farm for resources in order to enhance your equipment and expand your base of operations. It’s important to note, there are no objectives to tell you what to do or what you should work towards. Instead, you can access a mission log that will gently nudge you in the right direction to eventually uncover a new mystery. Even with the mini-tutorial, I still had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do next. It took me a solid 10 minutes of aimlessly wandering around before I realized that I had to unpack the equipment at the mission log in order to get going.
Adventuring On An Alien Planet
Once you’ve landed, you’ll have access to your ray gun (which acts as your terraforming tool) by tapping the Y button. As you terraform, you’ll gather materials that you’ll need to take back to your base. You then use said materials to craft more equipment. Things like a larger 3D printer, rover seats, canisters, and much more. You’ll also be able to pick up base items and resources as well as plugging in cords and dropping tethers. To be able to pick up items, you’ll have to use the right trigger to activate the cursor. However, when you aren’t using the cursor, the same button will work as your camera control. Having to place my cursor over the tiny little plugs as well as trying to place stuff around my base was a pretty rocky experience. The usually fluid gameplay is interrupted by getting some of the plugs to go in properly. By your first, second or even 5th try, it can feel like a bit of a hassle. Since half your time is spent base building, it is a bit disappointing knowing that you’ll be spending that time trying to precisely maneuver the cursor across small items.
I really like how relaxing it is, playing Astroneer. Whether you’re going about the journey alone or with some friends, that journey is worry-free. You aren’t under any time constraints nor do you have to worry about having to fend for yourself. You just have to keep an eye on your oxygen bar, the small blue strip on top of your backpack. Once you’ve run out of air, you’ll faint and find yourself back at your base without your gear. But worry not, because you can always go back for your previous pack. In order to keep your oxygen levels intact, you can craft and place tethers that will extend your range. This gives you more leeway while travelling in whatever direction you’re going.
Things Are Looking Bright
The port of Astroneer over on Switch is such a welcome decision. This is the type of game that works perfectly for this console. Whether you’re playing docked or handheld, it handles very well. Even when I had quite a few structures up on my base and things scattered around, I experienced very few framerate issues. I was really happy to see that the game held up so well and for so long when I was playing with a friend in handheld mode.
The graphics in Astroneer are simple yet bright, beautiful and vivid. It makes exploring the world much more exciting and I feel like it doesn’t strain your eyes, either. It’s a wonderful game to add to your collection. It turns out, being able to play and explore new terrain and worlds with friends is a lot of fun! Though the lack of a narrative or any driving force forwards may not be the most appealing for some. Even with the stress-free gameplay, it’s sometimes nice knowing that there’s a common goal we are working towards. If you want to explore a vividly bright world, or if you just want a very chill time to just sit back and relax, then I would certainly recommend you pick up Astroneer. Alone or with friends, you can explore and build to your heart’s content.
*** Switch review code provided by the publisher ***
- Completely Stress-Free Gameplay
- Vivid and Bright Art style
- Terraforming tool is a lot of fun to use
- A ton of fun with friends
- No driving narrative to move forwards
- Cursor to select smaller items is a pain
- “Tutorial” didn’t really help at all