You couldn't move for real-time strategy games back in the day, but (Starcraft 2 aside) the genre seems to have fallen by the wayside of late, and it's not entirely clear why. Planetary Annihilation and Meridian: New World are two of the biggest names in what could be a space sim-style renaissance - just as soon as both games are released, naturally. While the former requires a £30 Early Access fee to sample its gigantic galactic tactical action, the relatively humble Meridian now has a demo, in addition to its slightly cheaper Early Access tithe. Yep: Meridian is two rare things all at once: an old-fashioned RTS, with an old-fashioned free playable demo. You can grab it from the website or from its Steam page .
The (for now) singleplayer-only Meridian is a game about exploring an uncharted alien planet, which of course means clicking to order troops around, researching and building structures, and generally killing quite a lot of the people who are already there. There are light RPG mechanics and between-mission bits where you can walk around a spaceship and talk to your crew, but the actual clicking/strategising looks pretty reminiscent of Supreme Commander. This demo offers the content from Meridian's first Early Access phase, while the latest build has just been updated with new missions and updates to the game's level editor. If the demo tickles your fancy, you can find the Early Access page here .
Lastly, here's Meridian's most recent trailer, which doesn't show any proper game footage, but does set up the game's fairly intriguing premise through words, slow-motion laser fights, and squealing electric guitars.