No Man's Sky is in These Lists
In addition to the similar games listed above, which have been linked to this game specifically in the database, you may find games with a similar theme to No Man's Sky in the following lists:
Games use the spaces they create to tell stories. Some games do this by locking you in a key moment where the time of day doesn't change. Other games let you explore and revisit places at different times of day.
These day-night cycles invite players to explore at different times not only to find different things to do but to see how different locations change visually and audibly at different times of day.
Some games, like The Long Dark
, do this to offer a different environmental challenge at night, when the sun is in and the cold wind really affects your character. Other games offer more unusual ways to tie in-game light levels to the real world, like Unmaze
that uses your smartphone's camera to determine how much light there is in the game.
Science can be a subject that many of us see as something for other people. Physics, Chemistry and Biology is something for the nerds, geeks and highly intelligent children at school and not for us or our children.
"Science is an incredibly important subject that many students never fully grasp. Knowledge of chemistry or other sciences is necessary to solve many real-world problems, but the way it's taught now often fails to capture students’ imaginations, discouraging experimentation and discovery."
That quote from the creators of Happy Atoms
inspired this list of games. It's true not just about their game that unlocks the wonder of chemistry, but about many other games that often get children doing science without even realising it.
This can be the simple chemical puzzle-solving of a game like Sokobond. It can be the embodied understanding of gravity and momentum in real-time physics games like Portal
. It can be the way different elements combine properties in games like Zelda Breath of the Wild
. It can even be gaining a sense of scale of the universe in a game like Everything
Children talking to people they don't know in a video game rings alarm bells. In fact, even if they do know online friends, it can still feel a bit worrying what might be said. Worrying headlines about these conversations going wrong or being co-opted by adults means we rush to limit them.
While it's important to ensure our children are safe, the rush to lock down communication can limit the freedom they would have had to express themselves and make sense of the world with their peers. With digital spaces becoming increasingly important, the UN has recently stated that the Rights of the Child apply to the digital environment
Sara Grimes Digital Playground
book has a chapter on this topic. "Often safety manifests as programmed design limitations and systematic restrictions on children's freedom of expression. While such mechanisms are described largely as in children's best interests, in any other context they would almost certainly be classified as censorship".
Reading Sara's chapter led to this list of games that avoid the usual curtailment of children's speech with limitations, allowed phrases or the absence of verbal interactions. We wanted to highlight, as Sara puts it, "opportunities for children to construct types of secret spaces that once characterised childhood," rather than "adult-made embodiments of idealised visions of what children's play space should be".
These are games that provide a "forum for engaging with the exceptional, the repulsive, the taboo, the dark, transgressive play" and a break from "the beautiful, the sanctioned, and the sacred". This is uncomfortable ground for parents and guardians, but as Sara puts it, "provides valuable space for processing and rejecting social roles and expectations." "Within the secret spaces of childhood, children exercise their agency and authority, experiment with ideas and social norms."
Proximity Chat in games like Roblox, Sea of Thieves and Ark Survival Evolved offer players a way to communicate without censorship, and is usually accompanied by tools to ensure they are actually children talking rather than interloping adults.
Text Chat in games like Stardew Valley and Grounded, where it is not heavily filtered for phrases and terms that limit self expression and collaboration. Or games like Valheim that offer both whisper (to players following you on your team) and shout (to everyone and appears above your head) chat options.
Letters can be a way for children to speak to unknown others. This can be specific part of the design like in Kind Words, or as a message left for other players in The First Tree or Animal Crossing. Or naming planets for other players to discover in No Man's Sky. Then there's leaving time capsules with items and message for others to discover in Subnautica.
There's a gap when children are starting to outgrow PEGI 12 rated games but aren't necessarily ready for PEGI 16 rated shooting and fighting experiences. The games in this list offer some options that are genuinely exuberant and exhilarating but with lower levels of violence.
It's important to say that parents should take a close look at the rating information for these games and make their own judgement on appropriateness for their child.
These are intended as good first steps into older rating games, when you think your child is ready. We go through some really good examples of these exciting, fast-action game for a range of ages. They are mostly all PEGI 12 or under, apart from games like Halo
or Jedi Fallen Order
, which we have included as this is a lower ESRB TEEN rating in the US.
The spaces and places that video games create are often designed with a particular interaction or way to progress through them. However, because games are open to the player, how you play, the direction you move and what you do in the game is up to you.
This means that you can often put video games to unusual uses. Photography is one aspect of this as Paul Buttle recently highlight on Twitter
. All modern video game consoles enable you to capture an image of the screen. At a rudimentary level this allows you to take pictures of your adventures. Beyond this, many games offer a Photo mode that allows you to freeze the action and take control of the camera -- even letting you control effects, depth of field and shutter speed in some cases.
This means you can take really beautiful and engaging pictures in the games you play. Some families have tasked their expert players with capturing a certain type of photograph as they play:
Portraiture - capture images of the people you meet.
Photojournalism - create a photo diary of the events of the game to be annotated later.
Fashion - document the different outfits and wardrobe styles your character chooses.
Sports - capture sporting moments, including not only players, but the crowd and coaches.
Still Life - capture the inanimate, mundane and overlooked elements that make the game world what it is.
Architectural - find ways to photograph the buildings in various states of build, decay and renewal.
Some examples of these projects include:
The Game Awards highlight the best video games each year. It's an award produced and hosted by Geoff Keighley. Games are selected by video game news organizations who then vote on the games to choose the winners in each of the categories.
The PlayStation 5 DualSense controller added new features over the PlayStation 4 DualShock controller. It added a higher-quality microphone, a larger more sensitive touchpad, longer battery and more robust USB C charger cable. That last one is a welcome addition as DualShock controllers charge cables often wore out over time.
In addition to these improvements it added two new features:
Haptic Feedback - Detailed vibration and movement from within the controller to extend immersion of the game to your hands: the pattering of rain or a blast of energy.
Adaptive Triggers - The triggers on the controller can be made harder or softer to press by the game. This offers a nuanced way to feel more in the game, while also to provide more information about aiming.
The games in this list all use these Haptic Feedback and Adaptive Triggers functionality.
Family gaming has been a “thing” since I started writing about games around the time of the Wii. We all know about Minecraft
. However, these are just the tip of the iceberg of games perfectly poised for you to enjoy with your family.
We’ve worked with video game website Kotaku
and one of its writers, John Walker, who runs the Buried Treasure
site, to unearth some games you may have overlooked for your family. Kotaku (a made-up word combining "ko" meaning small and "otaku" meaning geek) has covered specialist video news since 2005. Buried Treasure exists to highlight great, interesting, bizarre or downright silly games that you’d otherwise likely miss.
This list highlights games you may have not discovered or considered as good for your family:
Weird: Games like Chuchel and Nuts offer a peculiar and intriguing way to discover an unusual world and story.
Collaboration: Games like Minecraft Dungeons, Ibb and Obb, Wilmot’s Warehouse and It Takes Two offer different ways to work together to progress by playing and talking together.
Mechanics: Games like Lonely Mountains Downhill and Boomerang X are experiences driven by learning intuitive controls. They are designed to let the player become one with the game, while also ensuring they are approachable for the newcomer.
Emotions: Games like Alba: A Wildlife Adventure and Rainbow Billy offer new ways to share the emotional landscape of characters. These head into identity territory at the player’s pace, without being heavy-handed.
False Start: Games like Vane or No Man’s Sky had a troubled initial release, but were either enhanced or fixed soon after. They are worth revisiting for the polished experience.
Older Rated: Games like Overboard or Spelunky 2 are rated higher in some territories because of gambling content. These are great games to play together as a family that you may have ruled out because of the ratings.
Impenetrable: Games like Sea of Thieves, Kingdom Two Crowns or Terraria can seem confusing and complex when you first start, but persevere and you discover expansive experiences that your family will love playing together.
The British Academy Games Awards are presented annually to recognise, honour and reward outstanding creative achievement in Games. The awards categories reflect the wealth and diversity of the games sector.
The awards started in 2004 and are presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). For parents, they are a great way of discovering brilliant games to play in their family. The games included here are from these categories:
The Family Games Award highlights games that will work really well for parents and children. These often include multiplayer features and feature a cast of family-friendly characters.
The Games Beyond Entertainment award is also of interest as this highlights more unusual games with an emphasis on storytelling that addresses topics that parents may find appealing themselves.
Whether it’s a simple puzzle grid, a battlefield or a universe of planets to visit, all games create virtual spaces in which to play. Some of these are simply the background to a campaign - the game’s unfolding drama, missions or challenge. But others invite you to invest in the worlds they create, move in, tend to and inhabit in fantastical ways.
The games in this section invite you to spend time in spaces that have a sense of place, life and character. Worlds that hold history and lore in their landscapes, flora, fauna and inhabitants; environments that respond to your presence and invite you to restore them to their former glory.
There are 2,277 active games companies in the UK employing 20,430 people. The biggest concentration spread through the country in cities and towns like London, Manchester, Brighton, Guildford, Aldershot, Bristol, Sheffield, Glasgow and Liverpool. The UK market for video games reached a record £7bn in 2020.
Many of the biggest video game franchises have been created in the UK. Grand Theft Auto
, Tomb Raider
, Football Manager
, Elite Beat Agents
and Batman: Arkham Asylum
. But along with these well-known titles are some amazing games for families and children.
There are some amazing (and huge) series of games made in the UK that are perfect for families. Forza Horizon
, Lego Games
, Fall Guys
and Viva Pinata
. Then there are games from smaller and independent UK game studios: Overcooked
, Wilmot’s Warehouse
, Snake Pass
to name a few.
Video games take you to virtual worlds for adventures, challenges and stories. Virtual Reality games extend this experience by putting the world right in front of your eyes and then matching your motions and head movements with the game.
VR is an experience that's hard to describe. Putting the headset on is like stepping into another room. This not only makes existing games more immersive but also opens the door to new types of experience.
While this can be quite expensive, it has become more affordable over the years. The main options for VR are as follows:
Oculus Quest 2 - Is self-contained so doesn't need lots of wires or setting up. You can also purchase a (costly) cable to tether the Quest to a PC for more demanding games.
HTC's Vive Cosmos - Is a PC-tethered system that supports motion controls. It supports games on SteamVR as well as its own Viveport online store.
Valve Index - Is a high end PC-tethered system with more advanced controllers.
PlayStation VR - Uses PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 hardware to offer a wide range of interesting highly polished experiences.
Fidget spinners burst into the hands of children a number of years ago. While that initial trend subsided, the interest and enjoyment of tactile objects to fiddle with are very much with us.
Fidget toys are like the yo-yo or Rubik's cube but without the focus on skill. The enjoyment comes from doing something that isn't learning or achieving anything. It's no surprise that there are a number of video games that have picked up on this style of play.
Some games, like The Longing
, Animal Crossing
and Adopt Me
, simple slow down the need to progress, so all you do is check-in, fiddle around with the game world and then leave. Then there are other games, like Townscaper
and Pok Pok Playroom
, that let you craft your own structures but with none of the usual video game emphasis on score and winning. Other games, like Everything
, offer a huge world to poke and prod without getting embroiled with progression.
Even games that do offer a strong sense of story and development often include post-game play or side-quest distractions that are simply there for you to spend time fiddling with rather than winning or losing. Games like A Short Hike
, Alba A Wildlife Adventure
or even No Man's Sky
Each year, journalist Simon Parkin picks the top games for New Yorker magazine. Along with a look back on the major events in video games, these offer a window on the games that stood out for innovation, novel interactions as well as perfect execution.
This includes games from the following years: 2021
Most online games only work if the person you are wanting to play against has the same system that you have, console, PC or smartphone. There are, however, a growing library of games that offer what is often called cross-play. This lets you play with people on different systems.
These games are a good way to extend the list of friends and family that you can play with. It also makes it less critical which system you have in your home, even if your friends have a different one.