Cities Skylines has the detail and the density, allowing you to manage every micro aspect of your budding metropolis, but might be accused of lacking melodrama. BioWare’s Mass Effect, on the other hand, is a sweeping space opera where the fate of the very universe hangs in the balance. They might not sound like the best of matches, but Ixion, a new, survival-based city building game out now on Steam, proves otherwise, as you meticulously manage your sci-fi space station to keep humanity alive.
To cut it short, Earth, as seems increasingly likely in our own, non-videogame reality is done for, destroyed by natural disasters, pollution, and who knows what else. As the Administrator of Tiqqun space station, your job is to design, build, and maintain a liveable habitat for your remaining pocket of survivors as you eagerly search for somewhere new that humanity can call home.
But space is no picnic. Electrical fires, hull breaches, and the threat of other survivor factions, who – to paraphrase H.G. Wells – regard Tiqqun with envious eyes, mean you’re constantly battling for your life, and your incipient society’s survival. Your choices drive the story of Ixion, as you struggle to balance the imminent needs of your people with the resources required for finding other Earth refugees, and building a better future.
It looks fantastic, too, a spectacular mix of harsh industrialism and florid sci-fi colours – think the original Alien meets Cyberpunk 2077. Ixion is out on Steam today, December 7. If you like city builders, and love a challenge, pick it up.
You might also want to try some of the other best building games, or maybe some grand strategy games, if you think you can handle all that power. Alternatively, check out our guide to the best RTS games, if you’re feeling a bit more action than planning.