Welcome to our regular gameplay impressions and video post where we record our first 10-30 minutes with a new game, and provide some general impressions on that early play through. Today’s game is: Space Engineers from publisher Keen Software House.

Ever since Minecraft burst onto the scene and generated a huge amount of revenue across close to a dozen different platforms, copycat developers have tried their best to duplicate that success. And while some have come close, most Minecraft-ian titles have failed to set themselves apart from the brick-based title in any new and exciting ways.

Space Engineers, on the other hand, looks to be exactly that: a fresh twist on the basic ideas of Minecraft, only blown out to include a world of possibilities. Essentially players are given a blank slate and tasked with building either a space ship or a space station. My perspective:

Although the tool set, which offers options for large ships or small ships, included with Space Engineers could use some work, as you can see from the video above this is already a polished experience. Moreover, the creation tools allow players to craft any space vessel their heart desires, from Mass Effect‘s Normandy to the massive Nostromo from Aliens.

Space Engineers Gameplay Video

Alongside a free form creative mode, Space Engineers also includes a more involved survival mode that requires players (flying solo or with friends) mine for minerals and convert those minerals into useable elements before building. At the same time, the player(s) must also contend with disaster situations like meteor storms.

As we mentioned, Space Engineers is already a polished experience, but Keen House Software is continually improving the game’s feature set and creation options. This week they are adding a few additional options to the game including:

  • Official Dedicated Servers/Hosts (commercial use): Dedicated servers allow players to connect to a third party host, rather than using a player-host, in a peer-to-peer set-up. This feature often results in faster connections and less lag.
  • Merge Blocks, Conversion of Station to Ship: Players can now permanently merge ships and stations of the same block size by using the ‘Merge Block’ feature. When a ship is merged with a station, the ship becomes the station. Stations can also be converted to ships, but the blocks that are partially inside asteroids will be damaged or destroyed.
  • Factions: Players may now create and join factions, determine ownership of blocks, and manage relations between them (hostile/ally); blocks can be shared within factions or with everyone; ownership can be transferred by the owner.
  • Hacking & Breaching: Block ownership is determined by computers, so if players want to take over hostile blocks, they will have to replace the computers that are in these blocks.
  • Steering wheels, wheel controls: Players can now build and control vehicles with the addition of steering wheels and wheel controls.
  • Batteries: The Battery Block enables players to store the energy generated by solar panels or reactors at an efficiency rate of 80%. The time needed for charging depends on the amount of energy available.
  • Pistons: Pistons is a new type of block which allows players to build even more advanced machinery.
  • Antenna Communication: Signals can travel through multiple antennas so players can receive a signal from any distance; broadcasting can be limited by player or by the power of the antenna.
  • Spectator mode: players can now learn from the community’s best by spectating their work.

Although our video only runs 30-minutes, both Game Rant Editor-in-Chief Robert Keyes and myself ended up playing Space Engineers for several hours, trying to create dozens of different ships (big and small) with intricate interiors and weapon systems. We don’t know where exactly Keen is hoping to go with the game, but the potential is certainly there for massive space battles.

Space Engineers Ship Creation

And therein lies Space Engineers’ biggest success: it’s endlessly addictive in much the same way Minecraft is. The game is well worth checking out now, but we can’t wait to see what it looks like when it exits Early Access.

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What do you think of Space Engineers? Does it look like a game for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Space Engineers is available now for $19.99 on Steam

Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina