The best games are the ones that aren’t even out yet — but you can get a sneak peek at these titles! They’re available in “Early Access,” which means that they aren’t quite finished yet but are substantial enough that players can enjoy. If you can handle a few extra bugs, you’ll get the game at a discount.
The difference between an Early Access game and a game in its Beta phase is that people are paying to get an Early Access game, whereas Beta games are usually free to a select number of people. If you have a few extra bucks leftover in your budget this month, consider picking up these spectacular titles!
Updated July 2, 2022, by Gabrielle Huston: Early Access games are a fantastic way to play good, cheap indie titles, but they’re also constantly in flux. We’ve updated this article to keep it fresh by removing games that have moved out of Early Access and adding new games that you should check out!
In this sandbox simulation game, the player must raise their unique species on an alien planet. The planet is full of competing species, though, so you’ll need to fight to find your niche and survive.
Thrive might remind you a little bit of the 2008 game Spore, and that’s for good reason! Thrive just has a much more in-depth system for evolving at the cellular level. From the reviews, it seems that people with an interest in biology are especially enjoying this game, and that the developers clearly have a deep understanding of biology themselves.
Craftopia is an open-world survival indie game that’s available in English, Japanese, and Simplified or Traditional Chinese. It’s had some bad reviews due to misunderstandings. Fans thought the game was being dumped by the company, but they just announced another game that will be worked on by a totally separate team.
Gameplay will involve all your favorite hobbies from other cozy games like Stardew Valley or Minecraft, including hunting, farming, spell-casting, and exploring! Though reviewers have noted that it’s a bit clunky and/or buggy in places, they usually insist that it’s to be expected of an early access title and that the time they spent enjoying it was still worth the price.
Horror games aren’t usually the kind of game you’d think would be in early access, but why not? Phasmophobia is a co-op horror experience, in which you and up to 3 friends try to solve a paranormal mystery! As an added bonus, the game can be played cross-platform and even in VR.
Supposedly, each time you play the game it will be different since there are more than 10 types of ghosts that can appear. It boasts a bunch of cool features for ghost-enthusiasts, like the fact that the ghosts are actually listening to your conversations and that you can use lots of different ghost-hunting tech, including Night Vision and EMF Readers.
Diplomacy Is Not An Option
It’s exactly what it sounds like. You may be the King of the castle here, but you’re not up for friendly negotiation. Instead, you’ll spend your time in Diplomacy Is Not An Option defeating the hordes of enemies attacking you.
It takes elements from lots of genres, including simulation, tower defence, and action games. There are lots of things to keep track of, so it’s got a low skill bar, but a high skill ceiling – the perfect mix!
ToGather is a lesser-known early access title. This survival game asks you to journey across a series of islands covered with puzzles. The developers describe it as a “science fantasy” world since you’ll travel alongside a “golem” (a little robot) while also encountering mystical and wonderous things on your adventure.
As the player, you collect blueprints for crafting items, search for valuable materials to advance, and upgrade your golem buddy. While ToGather is exclusively single-player for the moment, multiplayer is expected to arrive shortly, and the game looks like even more fun in co-op!
Baldur’s Gate 3
The Baldur’s Gate games are based on the world of Dungeon and Dragons, a fantasy universe full of magic, crazy monsters, and wild settings! The first few were developed by BioWare and beloved. When BioWare moved on to creating original content like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, the series was picked up by other studios.
Now, we’ve finally gotten a whiff of a true Baldur’s Gate III from this early access game, published by Larian Studios. Even if you might not like it, it’s worth a try; after all, the Baldur’s Gate games are considered an important part of gaming history.
If there’s one game on this list that you’ve already heard of, it’s probably Valheim. This title soared to be among Steam’s best sellers recently! It asks you to play as a Viking in a procedurally generated open world. Everything from hunting and base building all the way up to the end goal of the game: defeating 5 bosses inspired by Norse mythology.
No need to be intimidated; the survival in Valheim isn’t as hard as in other titles (like Rust or Ark: Survival Evolved). Resource gathering and the other survival elements don’t overshadow the other gameplay aspects that players love, namely, the mystery and discovery of players having their own unique experiences in each playthrough.
Are you, like so many of us, entranced by medieval castles? Then you’ll be thrilled to hear that Becastled is a game that allows you to build and defend your very own fantasy castle! Build your base and the surrounding village from the ground up with the help of your workers and defend the “Kingdom of the Sun” from the opposing “Moon Warriors.”
You’ll need to train an army and learn to survive against sieges from your enemies. Reviews warn to be careful of optimization problems (using way too much of your CPU) and a few bugs, especially during the night phases. But they usually still enjoyed the game, regardless.
Its developers describe it as a “spaceship shooter with deep exploration” and fans seem to agree, especially praising the game’s intuitive and uncomplicated controls. More than one person likened it to Freelancer, a space trading game from 2003.
Everspace 2 asks players to solve puzzles from the comfort of their own spaceship, build their own collection of ships, hunt for gear to maximize their stats, and trade with NPC vendors for deals on high-value items. There’s even a story mission with characters who can join your missions and determine the fate of your endgame.
Timberborn is a city builder game that’s full of beavers. Intrigued? After the fall of humanity, beavers have become the dominant species on Earth and must build up their society to thrive. Since you’re playing as, well, beavers, the city-building process focuses on things that other city builders don’t, like maintaining the rivers and using timber as a primary resource.
There are so many detailed aspects of the beavers’ lives that you’ll find it hard to get bored – you need to keep them healthy, make plans for different seasons, and organize work during the day and night. However, if you get so good that just running the cities has become boring, there’s also a map editor! You can create your own landscapes, share them online, and use other people’s maps in your own games.
Metal Dogs is a game where you control dogs who have guns strapped to their backs. Enough said.
Seriously though, this game is a fun, wacky experience in which the various dogs go up against armored tanks and horrifying mutated creatures, gathering loot and guns! You can even dress up your dogs in adorable outfits, like cowboy hats, halos, pumpkin masks, and more!
The genre of the game is hard to pin down; the description on Steam calls it a roguelike, but the reviews tell another story. Some call it a classic hub-based action RPG. Others say it’s not so much an RPG as it is just a Diablo-style equipment farm. Regardless of the technical genre, they all agreed on one thing: they loved Metal Dogs.
30XX is a follow-up to the popular game 20XX that’s only available in early access right now. It’s a platformer with fluid movement controls that developers say are inspired by Mega Man X and other titles like it, while providing the replayability of roguelikes, citing the Binding of Isaac and Dead Cells in particular. Games often over-exaggerate their controls, but the reviews confirm these claims. Players adore how smooth it feels and the ability to pull off maneuvers that could only be described as godly.
This title comes with a level editor for players to use as well as multiplayer (local and online) for those nights when your friends are all looking for something new to try! Besides that, fans will adore the adorable graphics and incredible music built into the gameplay.
Dune: Spice Wars
Dune: Spice Wars is indeed based in the same universe as the 2021 film and the 1965 novel, in case you were wondering. While it didn’t shatter our expectations, it has a solid build to keep you invested moment-to-moment.
This is a 4X strategy game, which means players of Civilization, Stellaris, and others will be familiar with the gameplay loop of expanding your borders and taking over your enemies by the easiest means, all while balancing the happiness and quality of life for your citizens.
Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator
Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator involves playing the role of an alchemist you might just visit in any other game! You need to run your own store, balancing your reputation, popularity, and funds in order to upgrade your equipment. Over time, you’ll develop a stash of ingredients, get to know the other vendors in town, learn how to quickly make potions that are commonly requested, and more!
The actual process of making potions is a bit like a puzzle; you can use any combination of ingredients, so long as you reach your destination. More aspects to the game are in development, so your investment is only bound to increase in value.
Dyson Sphere Program
A “Dyson Sphere” may sound familiar to you. It’s the name of a hypothetical way for humanity to never run out of energy by building a giant sphere around a star, letting people live on the surface of this sphere, and gaining energy through solar electricity. This early access title allows you to take control of building your own Dyson Sphere!
Each universe you spawn into is procedurally generated, providing you with a unique experience unlike any other player’s. You’ll need to use the resources at your disposal to build your Dyson Sphere up — your goal is to harness enough energy to power the latest in AI technology. There are planets to explore, a sphere to customize, and an empire to manage in this brand new title.