I enjoyed the starry skies and floating tranquillity of space station sim Stable Orbit [official site], even if my decisions led to the deaths of multiple astronauts. The game was a bit thin on features when I last played, like a clinically clean version of Kerbal Space Program, but new things have been added in time for its release this month. It’s taking off from the early access launchpad in t-minus 8 days, exiting the unfinished game atmosphere on Sept 27 and extending its “buy me” panels once in orbit. Will it survive the cold, dark void of the internet, or will it burn up on re-entry? Excuse me, the metaphor exhausts are over-heating. I have to go.
The focus has always been on realism. Astronauts need all sorts of gear to survive and even a small oversight can have big repercussions. You’re also in charge of the budget, not just the technology, so it’s as much about managing money as managing space poop. I found it to be very puzzle-like in its approach. There was a definite order in which modules should be added to the station, for instance, but perhaps that’s just the realism kicking in. A few things have been added since then, say developers Codalyn, including “disasters and calamities, a greater variety of nodes and research paths and of course the unenviable job of waste management aboard your space station.” See? Space poop.
Those disasters will be things like airlock failures and meteor strikes. “Only careful planning and vigilant supervision will keep the crew and space station safe,” they say. I can testify to this, being responsible for a total of four astrodeaths. Ineptitude and learning are a big part of the sim but take it from me: don’t jettison the module with the food in it. You will need that to live.