Would you like to play games before they’re even released to the public? With Steam Early Access, you can! The service grants you paid access to games that are still in development for a price that’s usually cheaper than what the game would cost at launch. Plus, you can offer feedback and impact the final product. Sounds cool, doesn’t it?
The problem is that Early Access can be a gamble. It’s not a free demo. You’re taking a risk. “This game may not be good right now, but will it end up being a game worth buying?” It can go two ways: you pay less for an eventually fantastic product OR you pay for a game that you end up disliking. Some people like taking that risk.
If you’re one of them, this article is for you. You can browse the Steam Early Access games on your own, but here are some games on there that I think will do well and are worth the early investment.
As the hottest selling item on the Early Access charts, it would be a sin to omit DayZ from this list. There are few gamers who don’t know what the game is about and even fewer gamers who have never heard of the DayZ name. If you’re one of them, here’s a quick crash course.
You wake up in the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees. There’s a lone road. You’re naked, cold, hungry, and thirsty. Nearby, a group of surly men give you the eye and begin to approach. They brandish bats, knives, and one even has a gun. You make a run for the trees, break through, it begins to rain, darkness falls, and you think you’re in the clear… then, as you turn around, a rotting face with torn flesh and a gaping jaw snarls at you.
DayZ is a multiplayer survival game that features zombies. You need to survive on a massive piece of land by exploring the area and gathering materials. Other players may be friendly or they may be hostile. It’s a sandbox game so anything goes. And if you die, which you will, you lose everything.
Potential Release Date: Beta? End of 2014. Release? Much later.
Prison Architect [$30]
From the makers of two cult classics, Uplink and Darwinia, comes another game that’s sure to make waves through the gaming community. Prison Architect is a simulation game that puts you in charge of constructing and managing a prison. If you enjoy playing sim games, you’ll get a kick out of Prison Architect.
In-game activities include building facilities, connecting utilities, managing staff, balancing finances, and keeping inmates happy. Prison Architect is currently in alpha development for an indefinite time span thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Potential Release Date: Unknown. Not any time soon.
Kerbal Space Program [$27]
Try to categorize Kerbal Space Program into a genre and you’ll likely fail, but the general gist of it is this: a space flight simulator with sandbox elements. Using a host of various engines, tanks, wings, wheels, thrusters, and more, you can build your own space shuttles and space rockets. It’s like LEGO for space freaks.
Except it’s not just for space freaks. Plenty of gamers who have no interest in the actual workings of space flight have sunk hundreds of hours into this game. Kerbal Space Program is intricately designed with millions of possibilities, resulting in an endless amount of satisfying gameplay.
And if you really want to bump it up to the next level, try out these awesome Kerbal Space Program mods.
Potential Release Date: Unknown. KSP was first released to the public in mid-2011 and in early 2014 it’s still in beta, so it’s likely that this game will not be officially launched for quite some time.
Starbound is one of those games that takes a previously popular idea and improves on it. Remember Terraria? Starbound is like that but better. It’s a 2D sidescrolling platform game with a procedurally generated universe in which you need to survive by exploring, collecting resources, and crafting items. Sound familiar?
At its core, Starbound is very much like Terraria. So why is it better? Polish. Despite the fact that Starbound is currently in beta, it feels like a more complete game. There are bugs here and there, yes, but it has a better interface, better interactivity, and better context (there’s an actual backstory).
Potential Release Date: Unknown. It entered beta in December 2013, so there’s a long way to go before launch.
SpeedRunners is the least known of the games on this list, but it doesn’t deserve that title at all. It’s a four-player sidescrolling action game where the goal is to run ahead of the other players. Anyone who falls off the screen’s edge is dead. To aid in this manic activity, you have access to various weapons and power ups.
This kind of gameplay takes a certain type of personality to enjoy and the fun is at its best when you can play with three other friends who also enjoy it, but when the stars align, SpeedRunners is one of the most fun multiplayer games to go public in 2013. It’s a must-play game for anyone with a competitive spirit.
Potential Release Date: Unknown.
Are you a fan of Steam Early Access? Which Early Access games have you played and which ones did you like? Share them with us in the comments!