Kerbal Space Program has garnered a large following on PC where it properly released last year, mainly due to the rocket designs players can come up with to send their Kerbals to the Mun and beyond. It sounds like a simple task but beneath the comedic approach there is an advanced rocket building sim here that teaches players physics, as well as the theories around space travel.
Kerbal Space Program has four modes to it which are Sandbox, Science, Scenarios and Career. However before you venture into any of those the tutorials are a must. Just hitting new game without touching those can lead to quite a bit of confusion, as I discovered. There is a lot to take in and the tutorials have been designed to help you build a basic rocket to something that can survive in Space, and then a craft that could land on Mun. All the tutorials are easy to understand and follow, though a gripe is the default text size setting. Sitting from just a few feet away it was hard to read, so it is advisable to increase the UI size in settings for a more comfortable experience.
Once you’ve completed the tutorials it is time to choose how you want to play Kerbal Space Program. Sandbox mode has all the rocket parts available from the start so you can dive right in to creating something that could be worthy of exploring the galaxy. Science mode requires players to conduct research to unlock parts to further Kerbal journey. Career is the most in depth mode where everything needs to be managed from R&D, administration including getting funding, and upgrading the Space Centre.
The Career mode requires a lot of time investment to slowly build up the Space Centre so you can create better rockets, but if you want to have full control over how your program grows then that is the best mode to play. The Scenarios mode is where there are different set missions to complete, like completing a successful orbit. These scenarios are best to tackle after getting the basics down.
Kerbal Space Program is not an easy game and requires a lot of time investment to make decent headway, but for every milestone hit there is sense of accomplishment. The game provides you with the tools and the education to succeed but actually getting a result is down to you. This isn’t just simply stacking parts together to escape the atmosphere. You have to take into account thrust-power of engines, the weight distribution, centre of gravity, when to engage each stage of a flight, and how to correct a flight path.
When a rocket takes off you do have control on how it flies and can correct its pitch, roll, and yaw as it hurtles out of the atmosphere, and back through it in the re-entry phase. If you pitch a bit too hard the rocket can come crashing down at such a speed that you can’t correct it, and that way you lose a Kerbal unless you’ve remembered to use parachutes to slow the descent. When the ship starts rolling about make sure you have a fixed camera on. All the other options like orbit and free nearly gave me motion sickness due to the erratic movement. A good way to simulate how an astronaut may feel in the situation, but not a great feeling to have when playing a game.
Kerbal Space Program isn’t the most graphically intensive game, but the graphics aren’t the main point. There is noticeable pop-in, especially when taking off, which does act as a small distraction. There isn’t a ton of background noise either, just a few bird chirps when viewing the Space Centre. Outside of that the noise comes from construction and blasting off.
Kerbal Space Program is one of the most educational games I have played in years. While I’m nowhere equipped to apply for the ESA or NASA Kerbal Space Program does make understanding the science of space travel easier to digest. It is a complicated game but offers a real sense of achievement when you get something right. There are a couple of issues when it comes to the actual user experience, like the movement of non fixed cameras and text sizes, but even if you have just a small interest in Space travel then this is recommended.
Version tested: PS4