Chucklefish Games, an independent game developer and publisher based in London, first came out with the idea and premise of an upcoming title called Starbound back in 2012, after the success of other exploration-based adventure-sandbox games like Terraria and Minecraft. Over a year later, in April of 2013, Chucklefish launched a tiered crowdfunding system for Starbound on the Humble Store with awards stemming from a copy to the game all the way to permanent in-game structures and statues named after backers.
Though it's been a long and arduous trek, with many criticizing the game in its early stages for being too similar to Terraria, Starbound was finally released on July 22 on Steam. It has made leaps and bounds from its Early Access days, with a massive amount of content having been added since then.
I was a backer of Starbound years ago and played it in Early Access extensively. Back then, Starbound was essentially a sandbox game with some weapons and a slight hint of progression in an otherwise infinitely vast, but empty, universe. Starbound had a fleshed out building and crafting system and it offered simple objectives in order to advance technologically.
Now, it seems that Chucklefish Games has added everything necessary to fully balance Starbound out as a full release. With a fully-developed plot, planets and characters that fill the game with life, and character customization and abilities, Starbound easily has the right ingredients (in addition to the many elements it had during Early Access) to become a highly successful and nearly addictive adventure game. If you also played it during Early Access, you can see an informative changelog for 1.0 here.
Perhaps best of all, Starbound doesn't force players to do anything. Players can track down their race's history and legacy by doing quests, or they can spend their time monopolizing uncharted planets and effectively running worlds on their own.
If the official trailer coupled with a $14.99 price tag on Steam can't sway you, knowing that the game is multiplayer and fully compatible with mods might, including full Steam Workshop support. Starbound allows players to host their own servers and play with others while modding the game to their heart's content. If, for some unfathomable reason, there isn't enough variety in Starbound's procedurally-generated worlds, players can add in their own until they never see the same biome twice.
With its elegantly composed soundtrack, never-ending amount of content, and huge variety of ways to play and explore, Starbound is something that should certainly catch the eyes of any gamer. The full release of Starbound went live on July 22 and can be purchased for the modest price of $14.99, or a four-pack for you and three friends for $44.99.
Starbound on Steam
Starbound on GOG
Starbound on Humble