Indie Gems: Kerbal Space Program Detonates In Orbit

Indie Gems is an ongoing feature in which we highlight indie games that are worth your time and attention. Think of this as your weekly Indie Game Playlist.


If there’s anything Kerbal Space Program teaches us, it’s that we were smart to not put humans into our test rockets.

Kerbal Space Program has no story, no campaign, and no rules besides the laws of physics. It’s purely a sandbox game constructed around a realistic simulation of rocketry. Your enemy here isn’t a lack of resources, or a foe to defeat, but rather your own incompetence. Your poor kerbals will die over and over because you can’t design or fly a spaceship to save your life. It’s okay, though; unlike real life, you can always start over!

Kerbal Space Program
Developer: Squad

Designing a spaceship in Kerbal Space Program is much like designing a creature in Spore: you cobble together parts, put your creation in the field, and hope it doesn’t explode. The spaceship designer goes into considerable depth, and includes parts such as parachutes, decouplers, landing gear, docking ports, and other such items. Much like real life, you can use these parts to build a variety of craft, from lunar modules to planetary rovers to sub-orbital jets. That is Kerbal Space Program’s primary strength: It gives you the tools to create your own vehicles, and the freedom to destroy them how you please.

If you can stick through that tough learning curve, however, Kerbal Space Program opens up quite a bit for the entrepreneurial space explorer. Want to set up an orbital space station, explore other planets with a rover, or even set up orbital bases around other stellar bodies? You can do all of these things. However, the physics involved are of considerable depth and scope, which means you will either need to be a budding rocket engineer or follow the advice of one in order to reach those distant objects.

If you tire of all this rocketing around, Kerbal Space Program also includes native mod support. Some of the more popular mods include ones which make the various physics systems even more detailed, add new parts aimed at different playstyles (such as space planes or deep space exploration), and create new systems such as lasers and tractor beams. They can spice up KSP if you’re an old player, and can give new players interesting systems to work with. Whether you play vanilla or with mods, though, it’s clear that Kerbal Space Program has a serious amount of simulation power behind it, and it can only get better as it approaches release.

Kerbal Space Program can be purchased on Steam through the Early Access program.

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