10 Sandbox Games on Steam That Stand Out Above the Rest

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Since the indie boom began, Steam has seen a huge amount of new and varied sandbox games. From 2D builders to galactic adventures and surviving in mysterious and dangerous worlds, there's just about every kind of sandbox game imaginable.

With so many now available both on Steam and in Early Access, it can be difficult to choose what ones to buy. So which sandbox games go that extra mile and deliver an experience worth the pricetag? Quite a few, it turns out.

Here is my list of ten sandbox games on Steam that stand out above the rest.

Terraria

Price: $9.99

I might as well start off with the obvious one on this list. Terraria, to date, has sold a monumental 18 million copies across all platforms. At its heart, Terraria is a 2D Minecraft, but it goes a few extra miles to create an identity of its own.

While it gives the player the ability to build anything they want in 2D, its gameplay also features RPG mechanics. You will need to defeat monsters, explore dungeons and face bosses to gain better equipment and progress in the game. 

You need to explore various biomes and build a town with various NPCs that you will have to protect from monster raids. With over 1,000 items including crafting materials, weapons, armor, clothing and spells the possibilities with Terraria are near endless. 

Get Terraria on Steam.

Don't Starve

Price: $14.99

As far as sandbox games go, there are few that could ever be considered more brutal than Don't StarveThat brutality, however, is a case of having to learn how the game works over it being purposely punishing. Once you figure out how everything works, Don't Starve becomes one of the most addictive games out there.

You play as Wilson, a genius inventor who finds himself on a strange and unexplored world, full of weird creatures, dangers, and surprises. You will need to gather food and resources and construct inventions to help you craft new items, all the while staying sane. 

Most importantly, you must make sure you have light at night time. Within the darkness, an evil awaits to consume you. There is a roster of different and crazy characters to unlock, each with their own advantages and disadvantages that change up the gameplay.

With addictive gameplay, a unique art style and a world like nothing you have seen before, Don't Starve is an absolute must play.

Get Don't Starve on Steam.

Cities: Skylines

Price: $27.99

Is the latest installment in the SimCity series not quite giving you everything you hoped for? Cities: Skylines may just scratch that city-building itch. As the mayor of a new city, you must construct it from the ground up. How you design and run the city is entirely up to you.

As you build up your city, you will need to balance out the essential needs of your citizens, such as education, water, electricity, police, firefighting and health care. You will need to designate various parts of your city as districts too.

As if all that isn't awesome enough, it looks absolutely breathtaking with modern graphics that allow day and night cycles. It's wonderful watching as the night sets in with the buildings lighting up and citizens' schedules changing. As far as city builders go, you don't get much better than this.

Get Cities: Skylines on Steam.

Starbound

Price: $13.99

At first glance, it is easy to assume that Starbound is nothing more than a Terraria clone. Don't make its appearance fool you. Starbound takes things to a whole new level with its gameplay. You start off in the game with a damaged ship in need of repairs.

You beam down to the planet below to begin gathering resources to repair it. Once repaired, you are able to explore the vast infinite cosmos. You can land on various planets, creating anything you wish... or simply just explore. On your travels, you can capture monsters and train them to fight alongside you.

There are thousands of craftable items, three difficulty modes to suit everyone's play style, customizable space ships and seven different races to choose from. There is also a storyline to follow if you wish to do so. The biggest thing that separates it from Terraria is that it is fully moddable with Steam's Workshop, resulting in endless fun and possibilities.

Get Starbound on Steam.

Kerbal Space Program

Price: $39.99

This is easily the zaniest of the games on offer here. In Kerbal Space Program, you must build a spacecraft that is capable of sending its crew into space without getting them killed. There is a huge collection of ship parts at your disposal, each with their own functionalities.

There is a total of three modes to play. Sandbox allows you to create anything freely. In Science mode, you must perform research to advance the knowledge of Kerbalkind and further available technology. Finally, there's Career mode, where you must oversee every aspect of the program.

With three different play modes, plus various activities like mining resources, constructing bases and space stations along with building all kinds of ships, the fun is never-ending. Not to mention that the outcome of building crazy spaceships at times is hilarious. 

Get Kerbal Space Program on Steam.

Stardew Valley

Price: $13.99

Do you like games like Harvest Moon yet want to play them on your PC? Well then, look no further than Stardew Valley. In this game, you inherit your grandfather's farm, or should I say, what is left of it. You must build the farm back up to its former glory and learn to live off the land.

You will need to grow crops, start an orchard, raise animals and craft useful machines. As you progress through the game you begin to become friends with a community consisting of over 30 different characters, each with their own dialogue.

There is more than just farming to be done in Stardew Valley, however. You can go fishing, donate artifacts and minerals to the museum, cook, craft items, explore a mysterious cave with monsters in it and decorate your house to how you like it.

If this is the sort of game you like, you can kiss your social life goodbye. Once you start playing, you won't be able to stop.

Get Stardew Valley on Steam.

Besiege

Price: $7.99

There is nothing else out there quite like BesiegeAs far as creativity and uniqueness go, this entry in the list sits at the top. Essentially Besiege is a game where you construct machines of doom from the ground up. Your goal is to conquer each land one by one using them.

As to what kind of machines you build to accomplish this, is entirely up to you and your imagination. From battering rams with circular saws on them to giant spiked catapults of demolition or a flamethrowing cannon firing machines of destruction, the possibilities are endless.

All that stands in your way is your imagination and the enemies defenses as you lay each land into ruination. Despite being in Early Access and having limited levels, it is worth playing for the fun and the experience.

Get Besiege on Steam.

 

RimWorld

Price: $29.99

RimWorld is the creation of Tynan Sylvester, who was previously a designer for BioShock Infinite. It released in Early Access back in July this year and is already one of the most promising titles in Early Access since Darkest Dungeon.

You take control of a colony of survival attempting to start anew on a strange planet. The game is driven by an A.I storyteller that decides how events happen such as bandit raids and disasters. To survive, you will have to fight, craft, trade, build and gather resources -- all the while tending to your colonists' needs.

That is only scraping the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the depth and content of RimWorld. It is also moddable and is integrated with Steam Workshop, allowing for easy installation of mods to change up the gameplay any time. It may feel pricey for an Early Access title, but its depth and gameplay make it all worth it.

Get RimWorld on Steam.

Empyrion - Galactic Survival
Price: $19.99

Are you still feeling the pinch of No Man's Sky? Perhaps Empyrion may help you out with that. You must travel through a hostile galaxy full of danger, building, exploring, fighting, and (of course) surviving.

Throughout the game you will be building space ships and bases, mining and resource gathering, crafting, hunting, farming, and forming the terrain as you see fit. You will have to fight against the wildlife of the many planets you will visit, along with robot drones, alien soldiers and their guardians. All of this can be done both in single player and multiplayer alike.

There are two game modes to suit everyone's play style: Survival mode and Creative mode. Despite being in Early Access, Empyrion already has plenty of features to keep you busy for hours on end.

Get Empyrion - Galactic Survival on Steam.

Kenshi

Price: $14.99

I couldn't end this list without including Kenshi. The world of Kenshi is one of the biggest non-infinite worlds since the Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. It has a staggering 870 square kilometers for you to explore. You can be a trader, thief, warlord, farmer, adventurer and more.

To survive the harsh world, you will need to construct and base and gather together a squad. There are no heroes; each character is equal and has their own story to tell. As a character gets stronger, so too does their physical appearance.

You can join or oppose the various factions throughout the game. You will have to use realistic methods of healing injuries and carrying the injured to safety. Much like RimWorld, this is only the tip of the iceberg for what the game has to offer.

It truly is an outstanding and in-depth game that comes from a small indie developer. If you like playing games with massive and harsh realistic worlds full of danger but want something a bit different, then Kenshi is worth checking out.

Get Kenshi on Steam.

Those are my top ten sandbox games on Steam. From 2D worlds giving players the freedom to adventure and build, to surviving strange and harsh worlds to building constructs of demolition. There is a title to suit everyone's appeals. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go help Wilson not starve.

What do you think of the list? Are there any other games you think should be on the list? Let me know in the comments below!

Published Oct. 26th 2016

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Playing video games for over 23 years, love to write and love everything video game related.

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