De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Squad For­mat PC


Hav­ing ben­e­fit­ted enor­mously from years of open de­vel­op­ment, Ker­bal Space Pro­gram ar­rived as one of the year’s deep­est and most in­ven­tive games. Part cre­ative toolset, part puz­zle game, and part ex­plo­sive sand­box, it al­lows play­ers to en­counter the re­al­ity of space­flight to what­ever de­gree of depth they choose. Younger play­ers can have fun build­ing ba­sic rock­ets and planes, and fling­ing them through Kerbin’s lower at­mos­phere. Then, at the high­est level, play­ers can build re­fu­elling sta­tions in or­bit and launch manned ex­pe­di­tions to far-off plan­ets.

All of this is ac­ces­si­ble enough to be en­joy­able but ac­cu­rate enough, as a sim­u­la­tion, to force the player to pick up some real rocket science along the way. As such, Ker­bal Space Pro­gram feels laud­able in a way that few games ul­ti­mately achieve. It im­parts a real re­spect for space travel and as­tro­physics, but is light­hearted enough for laugh­ter to be as le­git­i­mate a re­sponse to rock­etry as awe. It’s this bal­anc­ing act that makes KSP es­sen­tial.

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