Space Engineers – Early Alpha Review

Updated: May 10th, 2020By: BrantonGame Reviews4 Comments


Space Engineers is a game about building spaceships, mining resources, and generally surviving in space. The sky is the limit with innovation and in-game programming, and it’s definitely a lot of fun.

It’s still an alpha build, but it shows an amazing level of potential.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, definitely, but only to those people who are really intrigued and don’t mind putting up with sometimes overwhelming optimization issues.

  • Pros

    •  Explore Space!
    •  Build Spaceships!
    • Mine Holes in Asteroids!
    • Great Damage Effects
    • Absolutely Massive “Worlds”
    • Weekly Updates/Fixes (Every Thurs)
    • Great Modding Community
    • Responsive Devs
  • Cons

    • Lacking Optimization HARD
    • It Can Get Lonely in Space…

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The Details

Let’s get mine – and almost everyone else’s – primary gripe out of the way right off the bat! Space Engineers is an alpha build, which is still a ways out from being launched into beta. Keep that in mind when I say that Space Engineers strongly lacks optimization in the everything department.

That said, optimization probably isn’t much of a priority, yet. It’s probably – I say probably because I honestly have no clue – easier to optimize a more complete game, than it is to constantly reoptimize with every added feature through the stages of an alpha build, and all the changes which those might bring.

It’s not even that the optimization is thaaat bad, especially in single player, but it’s definitely the biggest con that SE has at the point.

If there is one thing I’m sure of, it’s that optimization will come! And it will be glorious! Just not yet.

What is Space Engineers?

If you’re a fan of sandbox style building games like Minecraft, Rust, or anything like that, SE should tickle your fancy, at least a little bit. If you’re also a fan of sci-fi and space, well, you should already be captivated.

space engineers grinding

Being that SE is still in alpha, you can expect that the game is pretty bare-bones, and I’m not going to lie, it is. You can still do everything you would want to, though, build, destroy, fight, forge alliances, build massive bases etc, but I can only assume that all of these ideas are going to be expanded upon in future builds of SE.

The amount and variety of vanilla blocks is more than enough to build nice-looking and functional ships or stations, but by implementing a mod or two, you can take that ship to a whole new world – ha, get it?….. ha…. ha…. damn….

Speaking of mods, SE’s modding community is amazing, and some of the things they create are absolutely mind-blowing, if not essential.

Pretty much every item in the base game has at lease one modded counterpart, if not multiple. So whatever look you’re going for, it’s likely you’ll be able to find mods to match.

Almost everything in SE is accomplished with various mining, construction, combat or exploration ships that you build, and the PvP is pretty much limited to ship vs ship, and ship vs station using rockets and bullets.

The “on-foot” PvP isn’t really that great, or refined, but that’s not really what SE is about, although I’m sure it’ll be improved upon in future builds.

Resources & Survival

Resource gathering in SE is somewhat unique in the sense that you can build a variety of different tools or ships to mine resources out of asteroids.

We’re not punching trees or hitting rocks with rocks anymore, boys.

You start with just a hand-drill, which can drill holes barely big enough for your body to fit, and from there, once you’ve gathered enough and built your refining/production buildings, you can build a mining ship which can be equipped with any number of larger drills to pound out bigger & bigger holes, ultimately collecting more resources.

No single asteroid will have everything you need, though, and that’s part of what makes SE interesting. You have to constantly scout out new asteroids for more resources, and larger deposits. Aside from the resources used to build, there are 2 “resources” which you also need to survive. Power, and oxygen.

Starting out, these 2 items should be your primary focus. You either need solar panels to collect energy from the sun, or uranium to be used in a nuclear reactor.

For oxygen, there is a solar powered “oxygen farm” (however that works in space) and you can also harvest ice from asteroids, to be turned into oxygen through the magic of space-science. Without these 2 things, it’s only a matter of time until you… have to respawn

In-Game Programming

Anything can be built with relative ease in SE, although, there is an insane level of room for advanced functionality and player-innovation in the form of C# scripts.


Things like item sorting, lights, production, utilities, legs for a walker, advanced targeting, and basically anything else you can imagine, can all be controlled via C# scripts.

If you’re a programmer who is proficient in C#, Space Engineers actually gives you the ability to utilize that, in a game, instead of at work! There’s a component named the “programmable block” and through this, you can write your own scripts to run different advanced (or not so advanced) functions.

If you don’t know any C#, like myself, or what C# even is, don’t worry! For basically any advanced function(s) you might want to accomplish requiring custom scripting, someone has probably already thought of that same idea, thrown the code together, and uploaded it to the workshop. It’s just a matter of looking! Which you can easily do directly from the “programmable block” component.

Weekly Updates & Upcoming Planets

Every week brings new updates, some game-changing, and some to just accentuate what was already there.

For instance, last week (07/09/2015) “Jump Drives” were added to the game, giving the player the ability to launch their ship forward over tremendous distances within no time at all. Definitely a cool addition, and just one step closer to the implementation of… PLANETS!!!! planet-prototype Yes, although Space Engineers is about… well… Space Engineering… Keen (the devs) have decided to implement planets into the game as well, and entirely due to feedback from the community! This wasn’t even something they had planned for the game, in fact, they did not want to put planets in SE until the community spoke.

This is just one example of how great Keen is in regards to listening to their community. Hopefully, planets come out sooner than later, but I’m all for the wait, especially if it means that the level of content will be that much more polished.


All-in-all, Space Engineers is a great game showing a phenomenal level of potential, it could possibly be one of the best voxel-based sandbox building games available.

If you like the concept of building space stations, mining resources without gravity, and dying from lack of oxygen / no energy while being cold & lonely in space, then SE is the game for you!

If you’re still on the fence, maybe you should hold off a bit, and follow the development of the game until you feel comfortable enough to buy

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Hey there! I'm Branton, the founder and lead editor here at PC Game Haven. Since our launch in 2015, we've helped thousands upon thousands of gamers build their dream desktops, find the perfect peripherals, and more. Thanks for stopping by!

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Riki Nazeboo
Riki Nazeboo
October 8, 2016 3:39 am

Space Engineers is a brilliant and unique game that dies out :/
Branton you still play?

Brian Ashforth
Brian Ashforth
October 6, 2015 4:44 am

Space Engineers has been so god since day 1 and its continues to get better as the updates continue. I would agree with the concluding statement “possibly be one of the best voxel-based sandbox building games available.”

Great write up for a a great game. (Keep up the good work)