Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Starbound Game Poster Image
Sandbox adventure is fun, gratifying, but has odd controls.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Game lets you choose how to play, whether you want to try to save universe, colonize planets for your own gain. So it's not positive or negative.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Just as you can choose how you want to play, you can also create, randomize character traits, such as race (human, various kinds of aliens), gender, look, and the like. You don't learn anything about protagonist -- they're a clean slate.

Ease of Play

Slightly confusing controls get easier after a few play attempts with game. Three difficulty levels included.


While not graphic, character can shoot a Matter Manipulator at an object -- such as a pile of dirt, stones -- or swing a sword at an alien tentacle. Pixelated visuals limit impact of violence.


Starbound soundtrack is available for purchase.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Starbound is a downloadable sandbox adventure game. There's mild violence in the game but nothing too graphic, plus the visuals are purposely pixelated for a retro effect. Controls can be a bit confusing at first, but it only takes a few play sessions to fully understand them. Plus, there are three difficulty levels to provide a challenge for players.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3, 6, and 8-year-old Written byAaron B. April 10, 2018

An absolute blast if you have at least two computers

I play this with my 8- and 6-year-old sons. We have a great time. The controls took some time for the kids to master, but now, they are pretty good. This is a s... Continue reading
Adult Written bypetra_ste March 21, 2019

Lighter sci-fi Terraria

This is a fun sandbox game similar to Terraria, with much exploration, crafting of tools and building of structures. The player chooses one of the main races an... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 23, 2019

Why, yes; it's really good

Starbound is a Pixelated 2D Survival Sandbox with a simple-ish story: Its graduation day for you and the entire earth gets completely DESTROYED by this thing ca... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byDJ_Omega August 31, 2020

Its sorta like terraria

its basically sci-fi terraria, but only one member worked on both terraria and starbound.

What's it about?

In STARBOUND, you play as a sole survivor of a destroyed planet, who escapes into space and then beams down onto an alien world. While the beginning is more or less the same for all players (although you do choose your race, gender, physical appearance, and more), it doesn't take long before your decisions shape this open-ended sandbox world. All you've got is a Matter Manipulator and a beat-up sword, and you're off to unlock the mysteries of this world. Can you find resources to repair your damaged ship? Will you fight back against the forces that destroyed your home world? Or will you colonize uncharted planets, collect odd creatures, battle in dungeons, and craft as many new items as you can? It's entirely up to you. Starbound also includes an optional cooperative multiplayer component (drop-in and drop-out co-op play), plus the game can be "modded" (modified), where you're given the tools to add new quests, races, dungeons, and more.

Is it any good?

This open-world sandbox-style game is highly enjoyable and replayable. It's also a unique experience, as Starbound is part adventure, part 2D platformer, and part sandbox game with countless building, crafting, and collecting elements. You can build huge structures, have tenants move in and pay you, and meet characters (or even alien creatures) who may want to join in your quests. You can follow the story or go about your business to explore underwater kingdoms or enormous castles. Starbound offers a ton of variety yet somehow doesn't seem overwhelming to the player. There are also three difficulty levels to play at your own pace. While the retro graphics might not be for everyone, and the controls take some getting used to, it's hard to deny the appeal of this indie game. But be sure to carve some time out of your schedule as there's so much to see, craft, build, collect, and fight in this charming adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about creativity. What sparks your imagination? How do you like to act upon your ideas? Is there a particular media in which you like to express yourself, or do you prefer using whatever is at hand?

  • Talk about the appeal of "sandbox"-style games, such as Minecraft and Terraria. Is it because it's more about construction than destruction? Or the fact that it's open-ended and no two games are the same? Are these games more addictive than structured games?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love creativity

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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