Everyone is buzzing about No Man’s Sky right now, available for PC’s through Steam and on Playstation 4. Everyone is buzzing about how great this game is, the depth, the exploration, the fun. Blah blah blah. Retro gamers have been exploring space, visiting planets and generally just surviving in space for decades- No Man’s Sky is nothing new other than maybe better graphics and sound.
You see, back in my day we had a little game called Elite. Sure it was wireframe and it was not very graphical but it was basically our first chance at living in space and going on adventures as we saw fit. Elite was followed up by two sequels, Frontier: Elite II and Frontier: First Encounter both of which expanded on the basics presented in the original game. These are great to see early implementation of ideas that would lead to No Man’s Sky style games in more recent times. Elite Dangerous is a visually impressive version that may be more interesting.
Maybe your taste for space exploration is a little closer to home. In that case may I introduce you to Orbiter? You can launch the space shuttle, or other craft via mods, and just experience space travel/exploration with realistic physics. You are not limited to just our solar system either, mods are available for a wide variety of systems with unique planets and challenges to overcome.
Okay, you may be calling foul saying those two games don’t have planetary landing and exploration. True. So, check out Parkan 2, quite close to what No Man’s Sky is and costs less than 10% (and doesn’t run like crap on most computers). Parkan 2 has you traveling various solar systems, battling enemies, trying to survive and just figure out what your purpose is in space.
Star Control II is another title that had you exploring solar systems, mining and just surviving. My first experience with this game was on the 3DO and it is quite a memorable game. Sure, it is not 3D but does No Man’s Sky have FULLY voiced aliens? A free version is available under the name Ur Quan Masters.
Starflight 1 and 2 are both older titles that share a lot with No Man’s Sky. You are tasked with mining unknown planets, collecting coordinates, avoiding enemies and generally just surviving. Starflight 1 was released on the Sega Genesis in the early 1990’s. Many cite this game with developing their love for space exploration games.
There you go, several games that have many of the traits of No Man’s Sky. Retro gamers have been exploring space for decades and it is true, No Man’s Sky certainly does it more visually but sometimes that is not all there is to a good game. Got a cool space exploration game I forgot? Tell me in the comments or via the contact link at the top of the page.