The Top Space Games to Play & What Makes Them the Best
Calling all budding space conquerors: If exploring new planets or saving planet Earth from alien invasion lights your fire, read on as we explore the top space video games to savour on desktop, console, or mobile!
Space games have been some of the best-selling video game franchises since the 1970s, and continue being some of the most loved video games around since then.
Developers have long been passionate about showcasing what the galaxy looks like beyond the shores of Mother Earth.
Within this article, we’re boldly going where few have gone before to list the leading space games you can enjoy on any device right now. You might be surprised to find that some of the top space video games aren’t attached to successful global franchises.
Instead, these specific outer space games rely heavily on storyline and game mechanics to cement themselves as one of the must-play titles in the space gaming genre.
What Makes the Best Space Video Games?
One of the keys to successful space games on desktop or console is the ability to immerse yourself in new intergalactic environments.
Outer space is an uncertain yet engaging place for people on Earth and gamers have the unique opportunity to transport themselves into other-worldly scenarios and settings to battle aliens or conquer untapped worlds.
Given the remote nature of outer space, many gamers that enjoy space games enjoy that feeling of detachment – removed from all sense of reality. They enjoy the feeling of loneliness as they battle for survival on infested spaceships and lands.
In a nutshell, the leading outer space games shake you to your core, and remove you from everyday life, if only for an hour or two.
The Parent Genres Involved in the Space Games Genre
When it comes to the essence of the leading space games, there are multiple parent gaming genres involved in establishing “space” as such an encapsulating gaming subgenre.
Space Shooting Games
The sci-fi gaming subgenre has taken many elements from the shooter parent gaming genre.
Instead of the shooting action taking place on barren military battlegrounds or on the mean streets of modern-day suburbia, you can find yourself well beyond Earth’s atmosphere shooting at spaceships, aliens and other outer space life forms.
All of which demand you to shoot to survive, which leads us neatly onto our next parent genre.
Space Survival Games
There are many space-themed titles that create that sense of loneliness and isolation. You’re often pitched in lightyears away from Earth, with your life on the line.
Alien: Isolation is a prime example of a recent title with distinct survival games characteristics, as you battle to avoid the clutches of a seemingly unstoppable xenomorph.
Space Action Games
The action parent genre is often characterized by gamers taking control of a central protagonist or avatar, and there are plenty of these in the latest space games.
It’s often a battle of wills and wits to collect tools, weapons and other items and combine them with your impeccable hand-eye coordination to overcome intergalactic enemies.
Space Adventure Games
Exploring the unknown is what underpins the gameplay of the best space games PC-based or otherwise.
As with action games, adventure games also typically follow the trails of an in-game protagonist, with the narrative of many leading space-themed titles powered by a protagonist’s need to problem-solve or seek out new outer space environments.
The 7 Best Space Games on the Planet Today
Whichever space game subgenre gets your heart pounding deep within your spacesuit, there’s sure to be a title that ticks your boxes. Below, we explore seven of the games most enjoyed by space lovers across planet Earth in 2022:
- Alien: Isolation
Despite not being a new game, and having earlier said in this article that most of the leading space games don’t need to lean heavily on the marketing power of a franchise, Alien: Isolation stands out as a fine game in its own right.
Fusing terrifying sound effects and bleak environments, this is one of the jumpiest space-themed video game titles you’ll see this year.
- Dead Space
Dead Space fits neatly inside the survival horror space subgenre. The narrative of this game is based on your protagonist being trapped inside a railway station. Unfortunately for you, you’re by no means alone.
Flesh-eating creatures lurk behind every corner. Mining lasers are your friend here to survive. The over-the-shoulder visuals take some getting used to, but it all helps to add to the claustrophobia of the concept.
- Star Trek Online
It’s taken some time but Star Trek Online has finally got the attention and plaudits it deserves. It’s now one of the leading space-themed MMORPGs, with space battles providing open team combat around Starfleet Command.
Star Trek fans will enjoy a pilgrimage into some of the regular episode missions and the chance to acquire plenty of Star Trek memorabilia due to in-game microtransactions.
- Eve Valkyrie
There are few space-themed titles that offer such an immersive, first-person perspective as Eve Valkyrie.
Step foot into the cockpit for an all-action dogfight, steering your spaceship from one gruelling air battle to the next.
- Distant Worlds: Universe
Distant Worlds: Universe is a timeless classic when it comes to space-themed games. It’s more of a strategy space title, which allows you to embark on a mission to build your own intergalactic empire.
Even if space wars aren’t your cup of tea, you can leave these battlegrounds in the hands of the sophisticated AI and focus on exploring the universe.
- Elite Dangerous
Fire up the impressive Elite Dangerous and get your hands on your very own spaceship. Explore untapped planets, head out onto their unknown surfaces on your on-board dune buggy to feed your inner explorer.
Consider yourself the gatekeeper of the galaxy in this hugely immersive, open-world title.
- Kerbal Space Program
Last but by no means least, the Kerbal Space Program is a fascinating space game, designed with wannabee NASA employees firmly in mind.
This title is not so much about exploring outer space and even less so about realistic graphics in games typically modelled on space, but more about finding ways to get there in the first place.
Think of it as one of the leading space simulation games - allowing you to design your own rockets and vessels with the physics and raw power to get through Earth’s atmosphere and reach the Moon and dock with modular space stations.