Terraform a planet in this survival game that looks like Subnautica on Mars

Scavenging for resources, keeping yourself fed and hydrated, crafting tools and building a base, and staying alive in a harsh environment is what survival games are all about. But what about altering that environment until it's not as harsh as you found it? What if you could turn a hostile desert planet into a green and leafy paradise through terraforming?

The Planet Crafter, now in Steam Early Access, drops you on a barren, arid world that looks a lot like Mars, and your job is not to merely survive but ultimately to make the planet habitable for other humans. As you explore and collect minerals and other resources, and keep yourself fed and oxygenated, you'll craft tools and gear, build a base, and fabricate machines and modules that can begin warming up the planet. Eventually you'll be able to create a breathable atmosphere and bring life to the world in the form of trees, plants, lakes, and even wildlife. You may start off growing crops in hydroponic tubes inside your base, but the end goal is to be able to farm them outside under a bright blue sky.

The Planet Crafter has an appealing Subnautica vibe to it, and there's a nice chunky sci-fi look to the base modules and other machines you build. And unlike many survival games where you spend a lot of time hunting animals for food or defending against attacks, The Planet Crafter is a non-violent game. There's plenty of challenges when it comes to surviving the elements and progressing through the higher stages of terraforming technology, but you won't have to kill anything to do it. Nice.

The sci-fi survival game will spend between one and two years in Early Access, according to the two-person dev team at Miju Games, though that may change based on player feedback, which so far is "Overwhelmingly Positive" on Steam. There are plans to add small life forms, more environmental threats, a vehicle, and more story elements during its development. 

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.