“Space games” is actually too broad a category. It includes space games like Elite: Dangerous, X4: Foundations or Everspace 2, large-scale role-playing games like Mass Effect or Starfield, horror games like Dead Space or Alien: Isolation, strategy games like Stellaris, Endless Space 2 or Terraformers, even walking simulators like Deliver Us Mars or The Invincible. All of these are very cool games, but today, on the occasion of the International Day of Human Space Flight, we’re going to talk about projects dedicated to the exploration and conquest of outer space, the design of spacecraft, and the study of interesting space phenomena.

By the way, April 12 is not only a memorable date in 1961, when Ukrainians Serhiy Korolyov and Valentyn Glushko launched the first man into space, but also the date of the first launch of the Space Shuttle in 1981.

Now let’s go explore space. The games in the list below are sorted alphabetically.


Platforms Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Жанр adventure/strategy
Рік 2019

A huge sandbox in which you have to explore planets, extract resources, build bases, even change the surrounding landscape alone or with friends in a cooperative game. Astroneer has seven unique planets with their own conditions and biomes, every inch of which can be explored.

Despite the fact that Astroneer was released 5 years ago, the developers continue to update and improve the game, add new content, and even prepare a major expansion for the end of 2024.

Juno: New Origins

Platforms Windows, Android, iOS
Genre simulator
Year 2023

Juno: New Origins is a new game from the authors of SimpleRockets and SimplePlanes, a kind of continuation of this series. But this time, you are free to design any kind of vehicle: anything that flies in the atmosphere or space, ships, cars, rovers, and… even entire planetary systems. The authors were inspired by the Kerbal Space Program, but seem to have gone even further. Juno: New Origins has its own visual programming language to automate the control of vehicles, its own editor of objects and their properties, and more.

That is, to “play” Juno: New Origins, you need to be a bit of an engineer, a bit of a programmer, and a bit of a designer. Or you can download content created by other players and try it out.

Kerbal Space Program

Platforms Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One / Series X|S
Genre симулятор
Year 2015

Here comes the original Kerbal Space Program. Yes, yes, we know that Kerbal Space Program 2 was finally released on Steam Early Access a year ago, but it’s a game from other developers, it’s still at a very early stage, and it’s not very well reviewed.

So, if you like to design spaceships and plan to conquer the solar system, then continue to do it in the original KSP for now. Moreover, since its release, Kerbal Space Program has received two add-ons from the developers themselves – Making History Expansion (2018) and Breaking Ground Expansion (2019), as well as a bunch of content and mods from players.

The last major update of KSP, 1.12 On Final Approach, was released in June 2021, but KSP 2 has only reached version 0.21 so far, so the full release of the sequel is at least 2-3 years away.

Mars First Logistics

Platforms Windows
Genre simulator
Year 2023 (Early access)

A simulator/constructor like Kerbal Space Program, but with a focus on rovers. The player has to design rovers, transport uncomfortable cargo, earn money, and help build a Martian colony. It’s like LEGO Mindstorms, but on Mars.

Mars First Logistics was released in Steam Early Access in June 2023, and it is being developed by only one person, Australian Ian McLarty.

Mars Horizon

Platforms Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre strategy
Year 2020

A turn-based strategy game about the space race, in which you have to manage the space agency of one of the countries and perform critical missions ahead of the competition. Mars Horizon has everything from the first weather rockets to the Voyager and New Horizons missions and the construction of a Martian base.

The sequel, Mars Horizon 2: The Search for Life, is already in development, but it has no release date yet.

No Man’s Sky

Platforms Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One / Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, iPadOS
Genre simulator
Year 2016

Yes, we know that No Man’s Sky has a lot of things, including space battles, but this game is primarily about space exploration, survival, and construction, so it has every right to be on this list. No Man’s Sky is also a good example of how failure at the start and harsh criticism from players can be an incentive to improve a project.

Since the release of No Man’s Sky in 2016, when the game was met with a flurry of criticism, the developers have already released 27 major updates (not counting hundreds of patches and fixes), the latest of which, the Orbital Update, was released on March 27, 2024. And although the game’s authors have already started working on their next project, this time a fantasy project Light No Fire, something tells us that No Man’s Sky support will last for several more years.

Occupy Mars: The Game

Platforms Windows
Genre simulator
Year 2023 (Early access)

A game about building and maintaining a colony on Mars. You have to extract oxygen and water, grow food, fix things that are broken, and survive on Mars. Almost like Subnautica, but without water and underwater life.

The game is being developed by Polish Pyramid Games, and the feedback from the Early Access is still mixed. But the developers release regular updates and have a development plan for the project until 2025. The last major update, Nuclear Update, was released in January 2024. The current version of the game is 0.154.4.

Orbiter Space Flight Simulator 2016 Edition

Platforms Windows
Genre simulator
Year 2016

Orbiter Space Flight Simulator is like Microsoft Flight Simulator, but in space. With realistic physics and support for mods, it’s also completely free. The game was developed by one person, scientist Martin Schweiger from University College London. The first version of Orbiter was released back in 2000, and in 2016, Orbiter 2016 Edition appeared. In 2021, the author made it freely available under the MIT license.

Although the final version of Orbiter Space Flight Simulator was released a long time ago, the community continues to support the project with new content and mods.

By the way, why don’t Microsoft and Asobo Studio extend MSFS to outer space, especially since some of the vehicles in the game can easily reach the upper stratosphere?

Rover Mechanic Simulator

Platforms Windows
Genre simulator
Year 2020

Rover Mechanic Simulator is built on the same principles as the Car Mechanic Simulator games, but everything takes place on Mars, and instead of cars, we have NASA’s Mars rovers. From the old Sojourner to the latest Perseverance and the Ingenuity helicopter, which were added as separate DLC after the successful landing on Mars in 2021, everything is just like in Car Mechanic Simulator: you receive an order, look for damage, print new parts, disassemble the rover, repair it, and reassemble it.

It was after the success of Rover Mechanic Simulator that Pyramid Games took on the project Occupy Mars: The Game. Rover repair will be a part of it.


Platforms Windows
Genre simulator
Year 2019 (Early access)

SpaceEngine is not really a game, it’s a scientific simulator/planetarium of the entire known universe on a 1:1 scale. With billions and billions of galaxies, stars, planets, and satellites. With realistic physics and optics, procedural generation of objects still unknown to scientists, support for VR and mods. But you can also fly with WASD.

Recent updates have added climate parameters for different types of planets to the SpaceEngine. The current version of the “game” is 0.990, which means it is close to release. SpaceEngine has a much more expensive PRO version that can even be used to create your own space movies.

Space Engineers

Platforms Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4/5
Genre simulator
Year 2019

Another large sandbox with the construction of spaceships, stations, bases, etc. Space Engineers uses a realistic three-dimensional physical model, simulation of gravity, atmosphere, climate, programming, and automation. The game has both cooperative and competitive modes for 16 players, dedicated servers, and, of course, support for mods.

Interestingly, on the wave of Space Engineers’ success, the game’s authors, the Czech studio Keen Software House, started developing a similar game based on the principles of Medieval Engineers and faced complete rejection from the community. The latest reviews for Medieval Engineers are all negative, and it seems that this game has been categorized as Abandonware.

Spaceflight Simulator

Platforms Windows, Android, iOS
Genre simulator
Year 2022 (Early access)

Another competitor of the Kerbal Space Program, but in 2D. In the same way, we design rockets, plan launches, carry out missions, and try to land on various objects in the solar system. Spaceflight Simulator is being developed by one person, Slovenian Stefo Mai Morojna.

In fact, Spaceflight Simulator was originally released on Android and iOS, and only in 2022 it appeared in Steam Early Access. The current version of the game is

Take On Mars

Platforms Windows
Genre simulator
Year 2017

At the time of its release in Steam Early Access, it was a very cool and promising realistic simulator of Mars exploration with rovers. Later, a campaign about the survival of the first astronauts on Mars appeared.

Unfortunately, as is regularly the case with games by the Czech studio Bohemia Interactive, the Take On Mars project was abandoned without being finished. But even with the Abandonware status, this game can still bring some pleasure to fans of space exploration.

The Planet Crafter

Platforms Windows
Genre simulator
Year 2024

The latest addition to the list of space games, the final version of The Planet Crafter was released just a couple of days ago. Right now, the game is being offered with a 30% launch discount.

This is again a huge terraforming sandbox in which you, or a group of friends (cooperative for 10 players), have to make a planet habitable. Everything is as usual – build a base, collect resources, extract oxygen, increase pressure, create a biosphere. The Planet Crafter is Subnautica on the surface of the planet.

Universe Sandbox

Platforms Windows, macOS, Linux, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift+Touch
Genre simulator
Year 2015 (Early access)

Another universe simulator, more of a tool for learning and experimentation than a game. With the ability to collide planets and entire galaxies, with black holes, asteroid bombardment of planets, etc.

In fact, the current Universe Sandbox is Universe Sandbox 2, because the original program was released in 2008, and a new one appeared in 2012 under the name Universe Sandbox². In 2018, the names of the programs were changed to Universe Sandbox Legacy and Universe Sandbox.

The game has been in Early Access for 9 years, but it has not been abandoned, and is regularly updated. Moreover, the developers have plans for 2024 and beyond with a focus on Android and iOS releases.

Of course, we haven’t listed all the games where you can explore space or build spaceships and rovers. Please suggest your own options in the comments and we will add them to the general list.

Other games that focus on space exploration:
Elite: Dangerous
Moonbase Alpha
Outer Wilds
Reentry – An Orbital Simulator
Surviving Mars