When we finally get around to settling on other planets, we're probably going to want to lean heavily on robots, with humans being annoyingly reliant on things like oxygen, water, and company. As a rover dispatched to an empty world, to make it habitable for people, you don't have to worry about breathing, or keeping hydrated, although the game's title suggests you might be lonely in your mission, which is a bit depressing.
In Lonely rover, a top-down gathering and crafting game, you do have to worry about your energy, which ticks down relentlessly while you roam about on the planet's surface, gathering minerals and metals and gases and whatnot. These elements are resplendent, almost overwhelmingly so, thanks to a regular procession of meteorites, which endanger your very life as you explore. (Humans might want to watch out for those when they eventually rock up.)
When your health, or your energy, gets a little low, you have to try and find the charging point that arrived on the planet with you, which will restore both to full. So the progression loop is one of carefully pushing outwards, using found bits to construct components: components that will allow you to build upgrades to your battery, your drill, your explorable range. Ultimately, your aim is to terraform the planet, by creating an atmosphere suitable for fleshy life. You will probably die, via meteorite, before that can happen.
That progression loop is compelling, and in its moment to moment action Lonely rover feels enjoyably tactile to play. The only thing I found a bit annoying was the slight fiddliness in selecting tiles, particularly when your rover is standing right next to them. Overall though, it's a creative, minimalist, refreshingly sped-up crafting game that you can play, for free, in your browser.
For more great free experiences, check out our roundup of the best free PC games.