How does it feel to live on an asteroid? What happens in the game Oxygen Not Included

Oxygen Not Included is a computer game in which you are offered to build a settlement on an asteroid. It’s made in a great humorous style, but at the same time, it requires solving very real problems that people would face if they decided to settle on one of the small rocky bodies in the solar system.

Гра Oxygen not included

Oxygen Not Included game

What’s it like to live on an asteroid?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in space? With Mars and the Moon, everything is more or less clear. There, cities will resemble Earth’s, but they will have to be sealed and have closed systems for water and air regeneration. It’s difficult, but the planet is big and there are bound to be resources to build all this somewhere.

Now imagine what would happen if you tried to create a home inside an asteroid. And do it in conditions when it is extremely difficult to bring something from Earth. Do you think it’s impossible? But in the computer game Oxygen Not Included, you can try your hand at it, because this is the main goal of the gameplay.

Типовий початок у Oxygen not included

A typical start in Oxygen not included

The game itself was released in 2019, but most likely not everyone has heard of it. This event was not accompanied by a loud advertising campaign like Cyberpunk 2077 or Starfield. That is why it deserves to be described in detail.

Unusual urban planning strategy

At its core, Oxygen not included is an urban planning strategy with indirect control. That is, the player determines only the objects that should be created in a particular place, and then the characters in the game create these objects. Or, alternatively, it can be considered a collective survival simulator. In any case, in most games of this genre, it takes place on some kind of terrain map, where the main task is to correctly place houses and shops on a more or less free surface and provide transport links between them.

Мешканці астероїда копають і будують

The inhabitants of the asteroid dig and build

However, Oxygen Not Included is a game about an asteroid. So you have to build inside this body. At the same time, the player sees everything that happens not from above, but from the side. That’s why the game has a direction that is determined by the presence of gravity. Simply put, the map has a top and a bottom.

The latter does not correspond to what astronauts settled on an asteroid would actually experience, but it makes the game much more complex and interesting.

The game provides an interesting implementation idea that asteroids are gravitationally undifferentiated bodies, meaning that they contain materials of different densities and origins, as well as cavities filled with various liquids and gases. The first inhabitants of the settlement appear in one of these cavities, and then they need to be told which way to dig and what objects to build in the resulting cavities.

Вода полилася не туди і герою холодно в ній працювати

The water flows to the wrong place and it’s cold for the hero to work in it

There is no waste there are resources

The most interesting concept of the game is that absolutely all the substances contained in the asteroid do not disappear and must be used properly. Otherwise, they will just lie on the floor like rubbish. This is really very similar to how scientists imagine building bases on asteroids in the future.

And this is possible in the game thanks to devices that convert one substance into another. There are no buildings in the game as such. The city’s residents simply build floors, walls, ladders, and doors from the resources they extract, which form rooms that house various machines.

Типовий день в астероїдній колонії

A typical day in an asteroid colony

The most interesting feature of the game is hinted at by its name. In Oxygen Not Included, there are not only solid objects, but also liquids and gases that behave accordingly. And yes, the next cavity in the asteroid can be filled not with oxygen, which no one promised the player, but, for example, with carbon monoxide, which the inhabitants of the city will not be able to breathe.

And water can pour down and flood, for example, a room with a supercomputer, or turn out to be contaminated. So, in the game, you will also have to build water pipes and ventilation systems, as well as various devices that allow you to perform various operations with them. There is also electricity in the game, and you have to not only generate it, but also connect it to various machines with wires.

Водопровід та каналізація у Oxygen not included

Water supply and sewerage in Oxygen Not Included

Graphics and characters

All of the above is complemented by a very peculiar graphics. Not only is it two-dimensional, but it also looks like it was drawn in Paint. This is a deliberate stylization that allows you to perceive all the complex processes in Oxygen Not Included without unnecessary stress.

The artistic style of pictures also affects the game’s characters. They are generated completely randomly and look like cartoon characters with huge heads and small bodies. Some people may even find them a little scary because of their pitch-black eyes, which sometimes look like abysses.

However, in general, everything that happens on the screen looks very funny and positive for a game about survival in a cave. The heroes are sincerely happy when they find something valuable by breaking stones around them. And when they get underwater or into an atmosphere that is not suitable for breathing, they puff out their cheeks and hold their breath.

Прийшов час вечеряти і спати

It’s time for dinner and bed

Despite this, the characters are featured very meticulously. Each of these hand-drawn boys and girls has their own set of preferences and skills that develop over the course of the game. Someone likes to dig; someone likes to take care of plants and animals. And all of them have quite understandable human needs: to eat, drink, sleep, go to the toilet.

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to build a toilet on an asteroid, with clean water on one side and sewage on the other? And you need to make sure that the former is enough, and the latter doesn’t flood everything around. Play Oxygen Not Included to find out what a non-trivial task this is.

Саме такий головний убор носять науковці у грі

This is the hat worn by the scientists in the game

Gradually, the colony in the game develops and new characters appear. The internal structure of the asteroid is replaced by rooms that are gradually becoming more adapted and comfortable for life.

On the role of science in space exploration

The main idea of the game is that science can really do anything. The game takes place in the really distant future. The characters either arrive on the asteroid via a teleporter or are actually printed by a 3D printer. And they don’t work with a pick and a spanner, they use a kind of handheld device to break matter down into atoms and print everything they need from them.

Дерево технологій у грі

Technology tree in the game

But despite this, the asteroid is always lacking something: water, oxygen, food. The only way to overcome this problem is to research new technologies from the incredibly large tree and use the knowledge gained to create new systems that allow you to get everything you need. And when it seems that even the most sophisticated machines cannot cope, biology comes to the rescue. Unlike real asteroids, the caves in Oxygen Not Included have plants and animals. However, they often look so unattractive that you don’t want to touch them, let alone eat them. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of the asteroid settlement eat them with great appetite, especially if they are grilled beforehand.

In general, the flora and fauna that can be tamed in the game looks like it is entirely a product of genetic engineering. And this is logical. It is likely that we will indeed have to breed new organisms to survive in space.

The fact that in the world of Oxygen Not Included everything was exactly like this is hinted at by the fact that local animals can be fed with simple stones, and the product of their vital activity will be something useful, such as coal, which is always used to generate electricity.

Місцева флора

Local flora

In general, the game develops around the idea of survival in difficult conditions and limited resources. The player simply builds his settlement inside the asteroid, makes it independent of the lack of resources, then builds a rocket and sends an expedition to another asteroid where the conditions are slightly different. There, the process is repeated again. After all, what else do you need for a game about space colonization?

At its core, the game is a fun and dynamic engineering puzzle. Here, every decision can have consequences that will only appear after many hours of colony development and which will then have to be corrected. But despite this, it is very positive and fun.