It is not entirely fair to review a game that has not yet been fully developed. Though in this case the space sandbox has been made available to play as early as in Alpha stage. Once this is mentioned, you probably wonder that this game is just the motherload of glitch – no it is not. Everybody is rather familiar with Minecraft and so the title game is often compared to it, though Space Engineers now is far more than Minecraft was then and what it is even now. And you can take if from an avid minecrafter that does not hate ‘the-original-block-builder-creative-suite’.
A big point of the game are Voxels. Voxel based graphics have been touched by the news in the past and astounded with their amazing capabilities of producing rich and unique environment without the necessity of an actual design artist randomizing the content as well as vast possibilities within whole reaction with the environment. Not many games offer that (Battlefields up to some extent with their demolition), and out of the few, none can really show off with a full voxel power. Here is where Space Engineers kick in.
The game is being created on their own special engine called “VRage” version 2.0 which stands for “Voxel Rage” or “Volumetric Rage” which focuses on the ability to adjust environment of the game in a really detailed way by the players themselves. This means, that even though you build by using blocks just like in Minecraft, you can actually damage it for example via collision. Larger rocks and asteroids can also be mined on and through. Smaller dents will become more than overpresent, and sure everybody would like a brand new undamaged creation, but in the end it gives you a feeling of a reality that can be taken advantage off that is not being delivered by Mojang. Everything is absolutely customizable starting from the colors of the blocks – and the lights too! – can be changed on to whatever you want with whatever intensity you want it to be. Ending on various positions of blocks too.
Just recently Space Engineers received Survival Mode with various server delivered modifications that you can toggle before you create a new world like: random meteors flying by and not that rarely being on collision course with your creations or even yourself. There is not much AI in the game yet, and to be honest the only AI are the engines and ship controls that (if set properly) will stop the ship for you and maintain the position no matter what. As far as an actual NPC or creatures nothing has been announced yet, though they are being expected to arrive eventually. Considering the fact developers update the game actually quite frequently – which would be give or take on a weekly basis – dreams are not that far away.
Game so far offers no actual story or quests to follow, but offers pretty much unlimited fun without any borders or limits. Gameplay is what you make it, you can create Grand Fleets and battle other players or concentrate on creating more themed maps or vessels to share with others. Graphics so far are quite nice and are constantly updated. Controls of the game are actually quite easy to remember and takes no more keys to remember than Counter-Strike. Though you must remember one thing, this is space, and direction is not present with gravity being were you set it, and it may/will vary from place to place. Sound so far is enough and delivers what it needs to especially for a game still in Alpha.
A separate paragraph is dedicated to the glitches. The game is still in early stages of development, and is quite a project to be managed by a small team of programmers that actually created their own game engine to transfer their idea of a perfect construction game to a reality… or rather virtual reality in this case. The game in single player acts almost perfectly. Obviously with larger constructions the game will have performance issues especially if large constructions are required to collide with each other. Hosting a server requires a minimal of 6gb unoccupied space of RAM, which actually seems to be rising constantly. Multiplayer seems to be laggy and issue of not using fully the hardware or even the connection speed needs to be brought up here. Sounds sometimes play randomly and their loop sometimes break (if you fly for a longer time, thrusters sound tends to cut off from time to time), but otherwise game is still absolutely playable.
Game is not as easy to start playing as Minecraft, and quite frankly, why would it be? There is much more rocket science involved than chopping down trees.