Ever since reading Tom's hands-on (opens in new tab) with Shortest Trip to Earth (opens in new tab), which he described a "tough-as-hell spaceship management simulator...that takes time to truly enjoy", I've been awaiting its release, and developer Interactive Fate this week announced it's leaving Early Access on Thursday, August 15.
You can think of it as a denser, more difficult FTL, in which death can come at any moment, and every system—whether micromanaging your food or customizing areas of your ship—is a rabbit hole to jump down. You travel from node to node, exploring planets and meeting mysterious factions, all the while upgrading your ship for combat.
You start with 10 crew members and recruit more as you go along, gathering the half a dozen or so resources you need to keep your crew alive and the ship running. It took Tom a dozen attempts to leave the first area, largely because enemies that board your ship can tear your crew apart in no time at all, and a simple mistake can easily end your run.
The trade-off is that you don't have to start from the beginning every time. Reaching the next sector gives you a new launching-off point, which means you beat the game by inching forward, rather than hoping for a perfect run.
The full launch version will also contain a new easier game mode and updated tutorial, multiple game endings and two new sectors to discover. Currently, it costs $20/£15.50: Interactive Fate has said it plans to increase the price on full release, but hasn't confirmed how much more it will cost. Keep an eye on the Steam page here (opens in new tab).