Small… But Per­fectly Formed

Five indies set on alien plan­ets to thrill ga­lac­tic ex­plor­ers

Games Master - - Indiemaster -

Hy­per Light Drifter

Heart Ma­chine’s blis­ter­ing de­but is punc­tu­ated by in­tense, pre­cise bursts of com­bat, but for the most part the epony­mous drifter is left alone as he probes the mys­ter­ies of a dis­eased world. This is com­fort­ably one of the most dis­tinc­tive in­die games of re­cent years.

Ax­iom Verge

Five years in the mak­ing, this retro-styled adventure from lone de­vel­oper Thomas Happ may be in­debted to Metroid, but it has ideas that are all its own. An arse­nal of weapons helps you deal with the world’s threats, while the best have wider ap­pli­ca­tions, fac­tor­ing into your ex­plo­ration in cre­ative ways.

Star­bound

Ter­raria in space, ba­si­cally, and that’s no bad thing. In truth, this sand­box ex­plo­ration and set­tle­ment-build­ing adventure has a greater sense of pur­pose than its earthly coun­ter­part, with mis­sions giv­ing it a stronger for­ward mo­men­tum for those who pre­fer a more struc­tured ex­pe­ri­ence.

Astroneer

Still in Early Ac­cess af­ter 18 months, Sys­tem Era’s open-ended adventure has ex­panded, of­fer­ing more com­pre­hen­sive base-build­ing on top of its ter­rain-de­form­ing core. Astroneer’s brand of freeform fun is ideal if you’re sim­ply look­ing for a planet on which to pot­ter about.

El egy for a Dead World

This prose-pow­ered adventure in­vites your lonely as­tro­naut to explore lost civil­i­sa­tions and essen­tially write their obit­u­ar­ies. Some­times you’ll be asked to fill in the blanks, while other places give you a launch­pad from which to take off on writerly flights of fancy. In­trigu­ingly dif­fer­ent.

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