Steam: The Best of Indie Sci-Fi Games

Steam is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to smaller games. Sure, there are the triple-A titles that your console friends obsess over, but then there are the...

Steam is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to smaller games. Sure, there are the triple-A titles that your console friends obsess over, but then there are the indies. Here are five sci-fi games that will play great on even the cruddiest laptop.

 

FTL: Faster than Light

FTLSlider2

We’ll start with a more obvious one. FTL makes a lot of best of lists, and for good reason. This kinda-sorta-roguelike tasks you in piloting a spaceship from one side of space to the other to warn the good guys about the bad guy fleet. It has all the trappings of a good roguelike, and some of the best space combat ever in a video game. Though the story never changes, the adventures your crew goes on is different every time. You learn the secrets of the game the more times you play it, and by pulling off crazy accomplishments, you will unlock new ships and gear.

ftl

Combat is a real-time with a pause affair. Your ship is on one side of the screen, your enemy on the other. There are tons of options, from simply firing on the opponents hull to knocking out key systems like life support and engines, to blasting a hole in the enemy ship with a drone and then storming their craft in person. You command your crew to take over different stations on your ship, repair damaged systems and put out fires. Heaven protect you if you get hacked and lose control of your airlocks.

FTL: Faster Than Light

Developer: Subset Games

Publisher: Subset Games

Genre: Strategy, Rogue Like-Like

Game Site here

Steam link here

 

Rimworld

rimworld

A game with familiar mechanics that is utterly unique, Rimworld is less about winning and more about the stories you tell along the way. This is obvious from the get-go, as one of the first decisions you make is picking a “storyteller” who determines the challenges you’ll face. Rimworld puts you in control of a team of survivors trying to build a home and potentially escape into space. Along the way, you will face… lots of stuff. Raids from barbarians. Man eating beavers. Disease. Famine. Blizzards. Ancient murder robots. The game is constantly updated, and modders keep things fresh.

Rimworld 1

Hour to hour gameplay is a base builder that seems like any other, but there are so many variables you can play the game forever. The designer specifically targets how small changes leave a big impact. The same game can feel very different if you know the two characters you are controlling are mother and daughter or if your settlement is right off of a major road. It excels at making small, even superficial changes totally alter the game.

Rimworld

rimworld 2

Developer: Ludeon Studios

Publisher: Ludeon Studios

Genre: Construction and Management Simulation

Game Site here

Steam link here

 

Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander

halcyon 6

This oddity is a fusion of base-building and JRPG… in space! Instead of controlling spiky-haired pretty boys, you build and pilot squads of spaceships in a galaxy gone to hell. A strange Lovecraftian menace has assaulted the known galaxy. This sucks because it’s not like the galaxy wasn’t already full of problems. Now you need to repair your ancient starbase and try to unite a bunch of races and pirate fleets who hate each other.

halcyon 6-1

Halcyon 6 is very objective based, so you always have something to do. The JRPG combat is mostly based around status effects and leveling up, and ties very nicely into the base building mechanics. It’s all about resource collection and battling to liberate more planets. As the weird creatures from beyond space ramp up their aggression, you may have to evacuate populations, increasing production on some planets but losing out on valuable resources. It’s a weird little game, and there’s nothing quite like it.

Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander

Developer: Massive Damage Inc.

Publisher: Massive Damage Inc.

Genre: Indie, RPG, Simulation, Strategy

Game Site here

Steam link here

 

The Last Federation

last federation

This one is a more straight up strategy game. The premise is sort of similar to Halcyon 6– the galaxy is crumbling, and it’s up to you to unite it. Only this time, you’re a fabulous space dragon, and it’s all about diplomacy. Although graphically simple, The Last Federation is a complicated and sometimes difficult game all about uniting different alien factions, who will appear different every time you play. They have needs, they have grudges, and they can give you different benefits. You’re sort of above all of their petty disputes, so you are trying to unite as many races as possible (and maybe snuffing a few out) before the end of the universe.

The Last Federation

The Last Federation

Developer: Arcen Games

Publisher: Arcen Games

Genre: Indie, Simulation, Strategy

Game Site here

Steam link here

 

Starbound

starbound1

A 2-D mining and crafting game (like Terraria) by 900 times more addicting. Starbound guides you with a quest story, a complex crafting and upgrade tree, an upgradable base at the edge of the universe, and a spaceship must repair, in a series of interlocking systems. It is tightly designed- there’s always another item you can upgrade to unlock the next story mission, which will give you access to new resources and abilities. It’s sort of like if someone designed Minecraft to be a Metroidvania, and thus has the draws of both.

starbound lonely

You have a spaceship you can fly around a galaxy of 2-D planets. If you were so inclined, the entire game could be spent building a single base, getting everything just right, with the zillions of unlockable and building objects. Or you could be an adventurer, getting treasures on each planet that help you level up to master progressively more difficult planets. Or you could collect infinity stone like MacGuffins, as you help an old lady fight back against her mutinous cult. There’s a ton to do, and the truth is, you’ll end up doing all of it.

Starbound

Starbound

Developer: Chuckle Fish Games

Publisher: Chuckle Fish Games

Genre: Action-Adventure

Game Site here

Steam link here

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Steam being what it is, you can find hundreds of other indie science fiction games. Which of your favorites did I miss? Share with us below!

 

 

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