When procedural generation became a big thing, there were a lot of high hopes about what it could mean for infinitely explorable spaces. Some games do it better than others, but a lot of the time a strange paradox occurs: with everything different in minutes ways, everything starts to look the same. Sometimes the only difference is in the aesthetics; this planet has a blue cave and that planet has a red cave. The procedural stuff ends up not mattering; you’re just going to go spelunking in that cave regardless.

So it seems like there has been a bit of a return to hand-crafted spaces in exploration games. Outer Wilds does space exploration on a much smaller scale than, say, No Man’s Sky. But each of the ten or so worlds is unique, and each has its own stories to tell.

Outer Wilds is a world I'm dying to explore screenshot

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Outer Wilds is a world I’m dying to explore