The genre of space games can be hard to define because it’s actually quite expansive and includes everything from flight simulators to role-playing titles to survival horror games that take place in deep space. Yet, this is the only genre that makes you feel like you’re exploring the final frontier in deep space.
Many space games put your skills as a pilot to the test and blast off into space from various planets to defend against enemies that would threaten Earth. Other games just use space as a background to their settings, and sometimes that is fine, too.
To help you find the best games in this genre, I have decided to compile this list of my favorites in no particular order. The sheer variety of space games available on Steam makes it impossible to list them all. Still, there are quite a few titles that stand out from the crowd. Here’s my list of the 20 best space games on Steam.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Mass Effect is a science fiction video game series published by Electronic Arts and developed by BioWare. It is one of the most successful franchises in the history of video games, with over 40 million copies sold.
The first three games in the series were released between 2007 and 2012, with the final installment released in 2017. While it’s not as stunning graphically as more recent triple-A games, it is a classic that teaches a lot about storytelling and immersion.
The Mass Effect trilogy is a legendary sci-fi RPG set in a galaxy far, far away. It tells an intense story that has you fighting to save your home world. The trilogy follows Commander Shepard on a journey through a galactic conflict involving an ancient machine race known as Reapers and their agent, Sovereign.
This series of games has been praised for its storytelling, characters, art design, voice acting, combat mechanics, and soundtrack. It has received numerous awards from various gaming publications and has been nominated for several prestigious game industry awards.
Eve Online is an MMORPG that takes place in a science fiction universe. It is one of the most popular space games and is well known for its player-driven economy. Players can participate in mining, piracy, manufacturing, trading, and other economic activities.
Eve Online has been released for more than 15 years now and has a special place in Video Game history. This game lets you experience space exploration like no other. It has vast PvP and PvE confrontations in an ever-expanding sandbox.
Participate in a variety of in-game activities. Such things include war, politics, piracy, trading, and exploration. You do that alongside hundreds of thousands of other players who, like you, shape the game with each decision they make.
The game’s creators, CCP Games, have gone to great lengths to create an immersive experience with the game, which is why it has been so popular for many years. There’s something about player choice and freedom in this game that is addictive. If you like sci-fi and MMORPG games and can face the learning curve of Eve Online, just go for it.
No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky is a video game about exploring and surviving in an endless procedurally generated cosmos. The game occurs in a large, randomly created cosmos with innumerable planets. Players are able to visit worlds, interact with alien lifeforms, and trade with other players.
The exploration aspect of No Man’s Sky really makes it stand out from other games. The player can explore any planet they want and find different resources, animals, plants, and landscapes. The exploration also provides an opportunity for the player to discover new technologies and lifeforms that are not found on their home planet.
This game had a troubling launch and didn’t deliver all its promised features. However, the game ended up overdelivering over time as a sincere apology from the developers for the game’s launch state. This title has only improved over time and has become one of the best space games on the market.
No Man’s Sky is an excellent example of how games can evolve and grow. The developers have not just been content with releasing a game. They have constantly been pushing out updates and fixes to improve the experience for the players. This is an entirely different game with way too many things you can do in it. There are space fights, mechas, bases to build, trading, and so much more.
Warframe is a fantastic action game, but it is also an MMORPG in a way. It’s a free-to-play third-person shooter that mixes horror, guns, melee combat, sci-fi, and ninjas. If that doesn’t sound awesome, I don’t know what awesome is.
The game is set in the distant future. Players control one of the Tenno, dormant warriors who need to rise in order to stop the Grineer Empire. Tenno can use various weapons and Warframes, which are the special armors that determine the unique abilities you can use in a mission.
Warframe’s core loop is relatively simple. Go on a mission, shoot and slash a bunch of enemies, then go back to the ship and hopefully craft better gear to be better at taking down the enemies of the next mission. Although it sounds simplistic, this game is far from it.
This game features various missions with objectives ranging from combat to stealth and exploration. You can do many assignments on your own. Still, the game has a social aspect since you might need help tackling more challenging stages in cooperation with other Tanno. For a free-to-play game, graphics are impressive. Not only that, the overall design of game mechanics and visuals is clearly made by people who actually care.
I don’t know who was the first genius who combined science fiction with Lovecraftian horror for the first time. However, this is the kind of thing that gave us the first Alien movie. Consequently, those ideas would be seen again in the future, eventually causing the existence of a masterpiece like Dead Space.
Dead Space is a survival horror video game where the player assumes the role of engineer Isaac Clarke and fights for survival during encounters with creatures that defy human science. This game has been praised for its graphics, sound, and atmosphere. There’s no way to argue with that, to be honest. I was genuinely scared when playing this game.
Everything, from sound design to environmental storytelling, contributed to this immersive and scary experience. There are so many elements that make you scared as you progress through the game. The fact you don’t know what the enemies are and how exactly they might behave is very unsettling. But as soon as cultists and alien stuff get involved, it only gets weirder and spookier.
When it comes to gameplay, Dead Space borrows a lot from Resident Evil 4 but mixes with a bunch of new elements. Some sections explore the sci-fi setting with the use of artificial gravity and even the lack of it. This is by far one of the best horror games ever made that takes place in space. If you like horror and space adventures, make sure to give Dead Space a try.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the game I never knew I wanted. This game is very much inspired by Dark Souls and is one of the best third person games on Steam. In this game, you play as Cal. He is a young Padwan who doesn’t seem to have mastered all the ways of the Jedi. In this adventure, the main character will face many dangerous enemies and develop his knowledge of the Force.
In this game, Cal has escaped the purge of Order 66, following the events of Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. After a long time of laying low, he is put in a situation where he must master the art of the legendary Lightsaber while outsmarting the Empire and its lethal Inquisitors. Although you don’t get to cut through everything with your Jedi weapon, the lightsaber duels are something else. A lot of effort was put into making lightsaber fights look cinematic and dangerous.
Fans of the Star Wars world will recognize familiar settings, weapons, equipment, and antagonists while being introduced to new characters, locales, creatures, droids, and antagonists. This game will immerse you in a galaxy that the Empire has recently captured. Cal will have to battle for his life while learning about the wonders of a long-gone civilization and trying to rebuild the Jedi Order.
For those who enjoy space dogfights, Everspace 2 is a game that will provide everything you are looking for. The game is a single-player journey featuring action-packed space shooting, exploration, loot, and traditional RPG components. In a quest for humanity, players get to experience a compelling narrative set in a beautiful open world full of secrets and dangers.
This game is fun and demanding, forcing players to be creative when dealing with swarms of enemy ships. This makes all space combats feel amazing once you overcome the odds. Even if you are outnumbered, opportunities might allow you to outmaneuver your opponents by utilizing your surroundings.
You will get to use a wide range of weaponry and skills to combat various opponents such as heavy bombers, drones, fighters, and even enormous capital ships. When piloting, you won’t be able to take a break. The constant firing and the acrobatics that allow you to stay in the fight while dodging enemy fire will deliver the ultimate space battle experience.
Nara was once considered the deadliest warrior in the Circle, an oppressive cult led by the Great Prophet. However, now she is a wanted fugitive piloting a sentient starfighter, Forsaken. In this game, you will travel the galaxy to fight the cult and free the universe of their oppression.
That premise was enough for me to try Chorus, and the game did not disappoint. Chorus is a beautiful, exciting adventure and one of its generation’s best space video game experiences. The graphic fidelity is seriously outstanding. There are plenty of exciting action sequences and memorable moments for fans of this subgenre.
There’s a lot of fun to be had in the mysterious, conflict-filled universe of this game. The splendor of space exploration is complemented by the fast-paced, frantic combat in Chorus. Besides shooting at other ships, you will sometimes be visiting areas and looking for new allies. This process will make you visit fascinating places, including enormous space stations and enigmatic planes of existence.
Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut
The game is set in the year 2299, during which an intergalactic conflict is happening. The Strike Suit, a spacecraft that can turn into a massive suit of space armor, is the spacecraft that players operate throughout this game. It is pretty much a stylish spaceship that can transform into a deadly robot akin to a Gundam.
If you enjoy anime, try this game out because it occasionally has an anime-like vibe to it. Strike Suit Zero does have your sections of space dogfighting. However, it also allows you to use the Strike Suit’s true form to unleash mayhem upon your enemies, which truly feels great. Engage in enormous fleet battles where the fate of the universe will ultimately depend on your skill and the power of your Strike Suit.
When it comes to gameplay, Strike Suit Zero usually puts you right in the action. This game is about shooting enemy ships to charge up the Strike Suit, destroying as many ships as you can in robot form, then repeating the process. It might feel a bit like an arcade game at times, but I don’t see it as a bad thing at all.
Back to the survival horror genre, we have Alien Isolation and the tale of Ellen Ripley’s daughter. In this game, you play as Amanda Ripley. She is looking for information about her mother, who disappeared after the events of the first movie. Her investigations take her far away, and she ends up in a decommissioned space station called Sevastopol.
The Sevastopol is an odd place with very robotic-looking synthetics. Still, it feels a lot like the Nostromo at times. The developers nailed the ambiance and setting, making the space station look like an old sci-fi movie set. All that being said, this is one of the things that make Alien: Isolation so good. The immersion is unmatched and becomes even better when the Xenomorph is introduced to the game.
Like many other survival horror games, you will be roaming around feeling powerless and trying to escape. You are the prey here, and your objective is to survive, not to defeat. Amanda will eventually have some weapons at her disposal. However, they are meant to help you stay alive, not to kill the alien.
This game has a lot of crafting, hiding, and slow walking, but it also has some shooting at times. You will always feel tense, especially when using the noisy motion detector. Each step can lead you closer to the alien on the space station, and this tension is rarely lifted. Fans of horror and space games should not skip this one.
Stellaris is a 4X game that has been developed by Paradox Development Studio. Players manage an advanced civilization on the galactic stage in Stellaris. They’re in charge of exploring, populating, and administering their galaxy’s region.
The idea is to encounter other civilizations with whom they might engage in diplomacy, trade, or combat. The game throws many adversities to test you. You will have to deal with scripted and emergent events, such as new empires changing the balance of power.
Besides, you might also have to handle significant crises threatening the galaxy or event chains telling the story of forgotten civilizations. You come across an unlimited variety of races due to customization and procedural generation. Select favorable or adverse characteristics, philosophies, restrictions, evolutions, or anything else you can think of to guide the destiny of your species.
All those interactions, including damage control and resource management, are big aspects of the game. There aren’t many 4X games worth trying, and the ones involving Sci-Fi and space travel are even rarer, making Stellaris a must-play game if you like both genres.
Kerbal Space Program
If you are a science geek or a physics nerd, consider Kerbal Space Program a mandatory experience. In this game, you spend a lot of time trying to build your ideal rocket and seeing many prototypes blowing up. If it doesn’t sound fun to you, let me clarify that this game is certainly not for everyone. However, if you can take pleasure out of the scientific method and rocket building sounds fun to you, I don’t see how you won’t have fun with this game.
To be honest, I find it amazing how the developers made an entire game about constructing rockets. The objective is simple: you must build a functioning rocket to get to space. However, depending on the mode you are playing, there will be challenges to face. For instance, the program might not have the budget for all the needed parts, or some technology was not developed yet. Finding a way around those challenges kept me returning to Kerbal Space Program over and over again.
The game also has other modes in which you have much more freedom, but the career mode is where I had the most fun. After finally building rockets that could reliably go out of orbit, you also have to reach a space station. Then, there’s the need to safely bring your crew back to the planet. Kerbal Space Program is a niche game. Not many people will find pleasure in it, but I’m sure that if you are interested now, chances are you will have a blast.
It blows my mind that this game became free to play because it clearly looks like a triple-A title of the eighth generation. Destiny 2 is a first-person MMO action game with a great story tied to the campaign. Although it wasn’t that well-received by fans at first for a number of reasons, it is undeniable that the game looks fantastic, sounds fantastic, and is also pretty fun.
The amount of detail put in Destiny 2 is very admirable. The areas of the game are haunting, but it is also beautiful. Large maps make the quests more of a delight to play, not only for being eye candy but also for beautifully contextualizing the game’s story. Damage type seems to matter more, and more visual feedback makes this game more enjoyable to look at. For instance, you can even see the soul of a Fallen leaving its body after a well-placed shot.
Besides all that, Destiny 2 is also one of the best loot games on Steam, and you can try it for free. If the core game doesn’t satisfy you, then you can think about checking the DLC for more content. Bungie has gone through a bumpy ride with Destiny 2. However, I can’t really complain much about a free-to-play game, so try it out and judge it yourself.
In this game, you are the newest recruit of a recently created space program. Outer Wilds Ventures is a space program that looks for answers in a bizarre solar system that is constantly changing. Since nothing in life is easy, the solutions you seek reside in the most hazardous regions of space.
Outer Wilds depicts a solar system doomed to a perpetual time loop, which is the game’s main gimmick. Now, you must find out what lies at the heart of the evil Dark Bramble, the alien ruins on the moon, and whether it is possible to end the infinite time loop.
The planets of the Outer Wilds are filled with hidden locations that change over time. Visit an underground city before it’s swallowed by sand, or explore the surface of a planet as it crumbles beneath your feet. All secrets are protected by dangerous environments and natural disasters.
This game is critically acclaimed and was well received by players. There is so much to see and discover that it surprised me, and in a good way. If you enjoy exploration and mystery, you will probably enjoy Outer Wilds.
With a connected galaxy, an unfolding story, and a recreated Milky Way in its full galactic scale, Elite Dangerous is the undisputed MMORPG space epic. Although it carries the name of a classic, this is a new, open-world adventure with a lot to offer.
Players begin with a modest spacecraft and a few credits. They must work their way up to gain expertise, knowledge, fortune, and power. The goal is simple, to survive in a futuristic ruthless galaxy and join the ranks of the legendary Elite.
In this game, player choices can cause governments to collapse, wars to be fought, and the galaxy’s destiny to be altered. The game happens during an era of galactic superpowers and cosmic conflict. Every single story shapes the uniquely connected gameplay experience and constantly growing narrative of Elite Dangerous.
Star Wars – The Force Unleashed
Ultimate Sith Edition is an extraordinary new version of the Star Wars: Force Unleashed. It aims to expose Star Wars fans to the darkest, most sinister part of the Force through a plot that pits them against Luke Skywalker.
All of the original missions from the first game are included in the Ultimate Sith Edition, along with content that was previously only accessible through DLC. It also has a unique additional level.
The power and magnitude of the Force are entirely reimagined in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. You play as Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice in this game. Through the eyes of an enigmatic new character, the game will guide you to discover brand-new revelations about the galaxy.
You don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy Force unleashed. You will lose many references, but the game has a self-contained story, and the action gameplay is ridiculously fun. That’s why I also consider Star Wars – Force Unleashed to be one of the best hack and slash games on Steam.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
Borderlands is a very acclaimed series, and for a good reason. The game merged Diablo looting, comic-like art style, first-person shooters, and Science Fiction to create something truly unique. It could easily have become a mess with so many elements, but those characteristics make Borderlands an easily recognizable series.
In this game, you learn about the background of Handsome Jack, the antagonist from Borderlands 2, and his rise to power. The Pre-Sequel, which takes place between Borderlands and Borderlands 2, offers a ton of new gameplay and the same old genre-merging experience that combines shooter and RPG systems.
You get to utilize laser and ice-based guns to take down adversaries from above as you float through the air with each low gravity jump. There is a lot to explore in the lunar terrain, and you can use new vehicles that allow for higher degrees of destruction.
The Pre-Sequel is a Borderlands game, just like all the series’ main games. So, if that’s the kind of game you like, there’s a good chance you will also enjoy this one.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a third-person cooperative survival set in the well-known Alien universe. In this game, you battle hordes of various kinds of xenomorphs. On top of that, you can alter your character’s appearance and equipment to make them look and play the way you want.
In this game, you take center stage in the dramatic events that take place 23 years after the original Alien trilogy. Players take on the role of Colonial Marines as they encounter horrific Xenomorph and artificial threats.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite features breathtaking graphics, recognizable enemies, authentic landscapes, potent firearms, futuristic gear, and a creepy ambiance. In addition to all that, it also includes new narratives that enrich the plot of the blockbuster movies in many replayable campaigns.
This game is a treat to fans of the franchise and the genre. Aliens: Fireteam Elite has 20 enemy types, five different classes, and over 30 different weapons that will keep you and your friends busy trying to optimize your approach to the Xenomorph threat. It also has a system that changes the campaign mission to add even more to its replayability.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
After the fiasco that was Marvel’s Avengers, this was a pleasant surprise. Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun adventure game with high-fidelity graphics, a good story, fun gameplay, and charismatic characters. To be honest, this game has nothing new or innovative, but everything is surprisingly well executed.
In this game, you control Peter Quill, the Star Lord. This is not the one from the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the comic books. Much like Marvel’s Spider-Man, this Peter Quill is a new version inspired by both the movies and the original version of the character.
When it comes to the gameplay, it’s basically some conversations, a little exploration, and a lot of shooting. Star Lord is very fun to control. He moves quickly, and his rocket boots make repositioning yourself look super cool. On top of all that, the Guardians of the Galaxy keep the banter going throughout the fights, showing off their personalities and making the whole thing even more entertaining.
Mass Effect Andromeda
The story opens with the arrival of the humans in the Andromeda galaxy. These humans are members of the Andromeda Initiative, a project meant to colonize the closest galaxy. Unfortunately, things don’t really happen smoothly. The story’s protagonist, Ryder, is immediately obliged to take leadership of the situation and solve the upcoming problems.
The game’s plot addresses some interesting problems. For instance, the crew has to deal with the lack of Mass Relays and how it makes colonization much harder. In addition to unraveling the wonders of the new galaxy, Ryder is in charge of locating sites for the establishment of the human colony.
Additionally, Andromeda was already home to other species. Therefore, Ryder finds himself having to settle conflicts that naturally arise during first contact between various races. The game goes through many topics, from ethical questions to social dilemmas, which should be familiar to fans of the franchise.
When it comes to gameplay, Mass Effect Andromeda is a third-person shooter with some RPG elements. The game took all that was used in the original trilogy and improved upon it, providing new abilities and a more fluid experience. This game got a lot of heat when it first launched, and it was deserved. However, there’s a pretty decent game behind all the criticism, especially now that most issues have been fixed.