Your Christmas game isn’t always the one you unwrap. Sometimes it’s simply the one you spend your Christmas break thinking about. In that case, there’s a clear winner for me this year. Astroneer, a wonderfully pretty Early Access sci-fi survival job is my Christmas game of 2016. I loved playing it, and now I can’t stop pondering it. Underneath all the easy brilliance, genre has done something slightly strange to this game, and I’m still trying to unmuddle it all.
Astroneer starts beautifully, each new game launching you from lofty orbit and down to the procedurally-scrambled surface of a low-poly planet, where you have to collect resources and build stuff in order to survive, explore, and thrive.
Gosh, it’s a looker, lovely purples and oranges and lime greens slapped all over the ground and the distant mountains, origami paper flowers scattered about, and, if you’re lucky, fragments of previous space launches scarring the earth and littered with salvage. It all looks sweet and sugary. If Starburst is looking for a sponsorship opportunity, Astroneer would be a good fit.