Pledges to "carefully evaluate" and hand-pick each game.
Game download shop GOG has launched an early access programme that notably features a "no questions asked" 14-day refund policy.
"It doesn't matter if you're having technical issues, if you don't think the game is fleshed-out enough yet, or if it simply doesn't click with you - all games in development can be returned for any reason," the company said.
GOG promises to "carefully evaluate" and hand-pick each in-development game it sells, and has chosen Starbound, Project Zomboid, TerraTech, Ashes of the Singularity and Curious Expedition to launch with. Each is discounted until 2nd February for the occasion.
My first planet was a beauty. I beamed down to a bright alien installation filled with money boxes and secret passages, while behind me claret-covered hills rose above forests in which every tree looked like a human brain. The wildlife was aggressive but puny; I could be a king here, and I was, I was! I drilled the mineral guts out of the place and felled all those trees. I built useful gear and fought a UFO loaded with penguins, and then I moved on leaving little but rubble. I never looked back.
My second planet was an ice world. I froze after a few short steps and died. My riches wouldn't protect me, because I'd crafted nothing to keep me warm, and my third planet was ever worse. A moon: a stubbly piece of rock, no atmosphere and the place was colder than hell. It was filled with natural treasures, though: fabulous ores winking at me through the compacted strata of grey dust. I could be richer than a king if I ever found a way to survive here. Richer than a million kings!
Starbound is a lot like Terraria when you get in really close. It offers a procedural - and destructible - 2D environment in which almost everything wants to kill you and where you'll only survive by scavenging your way up the food chain. Mine ores and gather wood, build tools and a shelter - then build a means of building better tools and better shelters. Grow stronger by growing more knowledgeable, and watch as each trip outwards takes you further, earns you more, and leaves you alive that bit longer. Fight, craft, thrive! The UI's not entirely dissimilar, the mouse-and-keyboard controls will feel familiar, and many of the incidental details between both games mesh rather harmoniously, too.
A quick look at the procedurally generated marvel.
It's getting harder and harder to keep on top of all the games hitting early access, but there are some that really stand out. Starbound, for instance, has struck a nerve for anyone jonesing for some procedurally generated 2D thrills. Terraria in space is one way of putting it, but anyone more eloquent than me would likely be able to sell it to you a little more gracefully.
UPDATE: Latest update means characters and ships won't be erased again.
UPDATE: If you've been interested in Chucklefish's intergalactic 2D sandbox Starbound, but have been turned off by the developer's need to wipe players' progress via updates, your worries have been assuaged... mostly.
In the developer's latest patch notes it's claimed that the new Furious Koala update comes with an "absolutely massive changes to disk serialisation, which will allow us to never need to wipe players or ships again, and hopefully never need to wipe worlds again."
It's also added various difficulty levels and permadeath into the game. Neato!
After raising over over $2.17 million via crowdfunding.
Sometimes all it takes is a good idea. How else to explain indie developer Chucklefish acquiring $2,175,719 for its Terraria-esque 2D randomly generated adventure Starbound? Chucklefish is far from famous with its most notable title being Wanderlust: Rebirth - though it's also collaborating on Treasure Adventure World with Robit Studios - yet it still raised over $600K in the first three days of its crowdfunding campaign last spring.
Now the 97,385 backers who believed in the project are being rewarded with beta keys on Steam. If you missed out, don't despair as you can still partake in the beta fun by pre-ordering Starbound on Chucklefish's official storefront for $15 (about £9).
The beta is missing some features, but it still contains multiplayer - one of the project's most exciting aspects where players can visit each other's planets. Further details about the beta are explained on the developer's forum.