If you've ever been stuck in the middle of nowhere because your car breaks down, imagine what it's like for ship crews in the infinite expanse of outer space. You can't just call for a tow, so thank goodness for the Salvage and Rescue Operations Initiative, which is at the heart of STARDROP, Joure Visser's indie sci-fi adventure that recently launched on Steam Early Access.
Set sometime in the distant future, when human expansion has begun to exploit the vast business opportunities of space, the game stars a Salvage and Rescue operative named Aryn, who is "accompanied by her close friend and pilot of their ship the MCCV-2, John Kindley." Together the two of them explore the galaxy in search of "derelict spacecraft lost in time or ships [that] are are in need of help." But the pair get more than they bargained for on a seemingly routine mission to a vessel stranded in the Cassiopeia constellation. As they begin to "unravel the mystery about its identity," they soon discover that "there's a lot more to this ship then they could ever suspect."
Described as a "first-person adventure and exploration game" inspired by the likes of Portal, Firewatch and Alien: Isolation, STARDROP promises an unusual combination of story-driven events and open-world exploration. Players are free to roam "multiple spacecraft, outposts, stations and more," some of them required and some of them accessible only through optional side missions. Along the way, you can interact with a number of different kinds of interfaces like "control panels, elevators and security systems as well as other various interactive objects such as computer interfaces where you can read emails, listen to audio logs and more."
There are also challenges in your path, however, as you will encounter a "range of light environmental puzzles and a touch of light stealth mechanics" that will need to be overcome in order to advance. Assisting you in your task is your equipment, including your helmet light and scanner, a DataPad that lets you "receive mission objectives, read crew logs, view your location on the mini-map or remotely control certain androids," and a propulsion system that enables you to navigate any zero-gravity environments.
An early version of STARDROP is now available on Steam Early Access, representing about 35% of the full game, including the first chapter and two side missions that should take about 90 minutes to complete. According to the developer, "almost all of the base gameplay features have been implemented," though still in an unpolished state. The full version isn't expected to be complete for another year, but you can check out Chapter 1 before committing in the meantime, as it is available as a free demo download. You can also learn more about the game from its official website.