Astroneer (a combination of astronaut and engineer) is a space exploration and adventure game that sparks the player’s imagination to survive, collect and build on a group of strange planets. We will be going in depth to probe and review this unique and stylish space game in our Astroneer review.
|Type of game:||Open-world exploration game|
|Developer:||System Era Softworks|
|Total Play Time:||5-10 hours|
|System Requirements:||CPU: X64 Quad Core CPU, 3+ GHz
GPU:GeForce GTX 560 TI (1024 MB) or equivalent
RAM: 4 GB
HDD Space: 4 GB
The World of Astroneer
This cute space game is still in its Alpha stages but we are going to dive right in and review what System Era has come up with so far. The game has received over twenty-two thousand “Very Good” review ratings on Steam, which is the second highest rating a game can achieve on the platform. It’s one small step for players and one giant step for a little indie game.
Atmosphere & Location
System Era Softworks is a tiny start-up company with only two artists on board to make things look the way they should. Astroneer started as just an art project before it turned into a full-fledged game. The artists purposefully picked the low-poly art style which makes use of bold geometrical shapes and bright colors. This is a great choice for indie games because it is inexpensive and fast to make. For a game like Astroneer, this style works perfectly. The bright colors and the low poly environment give the player a sense of immersion into an alien world, and the lighting guys really know their stuff. The terrain is rough and blocky compared to the smoother man-made structures, which help differentiate objects in the game world. Overall the foreign planets are simple and beautifully striking.
The team worked with Netherlands composer Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabriek) to make Astroneer’s unique and beautifully relaxing music. The soundtracks themselves are tinkly and soft, giving the player a background for the emptiness of space exploration. Rutger makes 6 layers of music for every track and depending on what a player is doing, a negative or positive layer will become more noticeable. This intelligent music is part of what makes the Astroneer experience so special. The sound effects are pleasant and unobtrusive, even enjoyable; moving collection canisters make the most satisfying soda tab “pop” noise.
There are four main playable characters to choose from. If you play multi-player with friends, each person can be one of the four until the team is complete. While the Astroneers don’t have official names, developers and fans have come up with their nicknames based on appearance:
Bubbles: Bubbles is the main Astroneer and the most prominently featured in the trailer. He is the most round and chubby of the group which earned him his nickname. His walking animation is markedly different from the others which adds to his character.
Skinny Person: Skinny is the thinnest of the four and the first to be used in development and testing of the game. His appearance has changed many times throughout the development journey but he seems to have settled into his figure.
Pajama: The only orange-suited member is loosely based on Yuri Gagarin, one of the Soviet Union’s most famous cosmonauts.
Biosuit: Biosuit has mounted headlamps on his helmet which gives him a more animalistic look than the others.
Characters not yet playable but coming soon include:
TV-Head: As you may have guessed, he has a TV monitor for a head. His character design and animation are finished so he may be introduced soon.
Hazmat: Hazmat has a nuclear waste-cleanup look about him and is still in his early stages of development.
Astroneer’s cute characters may not have much in the way of personality-driven story, but they are exactly the right fit for the type of game they are in.
There is no linear story in Astroneer because it is open-world exploration and player-driven. The purpose of the character and the player is to explore each of the planets laid out in the game. But before the player can take off from their starting planet, they must harvest resources from the surrounding area and build structures and vehicles.
All players start with a landing pad, medium build pad, fabricator and home base where they can get oxygen. A player must use these starting resources to build bigger and more complicated structures like shredders, trade stations and land rovers. The player can craft the landscape as they please by removing and placing the terrain. But players can never stray too far from their tethers or power source or their Astroneer will perish. There are also environmental hazards to watch out for, like windstorms and wormhole pits.
Eventually players craft a vehicle that can take them to a neighboring planet, where the terrain and dangers are brand new. They must then hunt for resources and build a home base to be safe from the elements. While colonizing new planets can sometimes get a little too rinse-and-repeat, Astroneer retains its charm in its art and music and remains a very relaxing and fun game to play.
DLC & Expansion Packs
As Astroneer is still in the Alpha development stage, there isn’t much in the way of DLC or expansion packs yet. One cool bit of DLC currently available is the Astroneer official soundtrack for $5.99. For collectors of video game music, this is a great addition to put on in the background during work or focused activity. It may also be great for those who need calming music to fall asleep, as the soundtrack is mostly ambient and soft.
For those who have already purchased Astroneer on Steam, there is no indication that they will have to pay an extra fee for new versions that are scheduled to launch. However, initial price of the game may go up once it is further into its finished stages, for those who haven’t purchased it yet. A roadmap of Astroneer’s development shows that many new features are scheduled to be added in the coming months which will justify a higher price tag.
Astroneer is a great achievement in the combination of art, music and fun game play, especially for such a small indie company. Players are allowed to drive their own story by building, crafting, harvesting and surviving on a brightly colored and sometimes dangerous planet. While gameplay can become repetitive at a certain time, it is still a fun and relaxing experience that players can return to and enjoy. The best part is that Astroneer is unfinished and great new features are on the way from System Era Softworks. There’s no telling what kind of new experiences players can count on. If you have played Astroneer, please share your opinion of the game and add any questions you may have. What would you like to add to our Astroneer review?