In space, no one can hear you flip through a 35-page technical manual looking for an error code before you asphyxiate to death. But that’s what you’ll have to do to survive Tin Can: It’s a first-person survival simulation game where you, a space janitor, have to bail out of an exploding space station in an escape pod, and then somehow keep yourself alive in the extreme hazards of outer space.
A lot can go wrong as you drift through the void in a vulnerable, aging space capsule. The heat from passing a star will quickly bake you. Radiation from a nearby nebula will fry your DNA. Oxygen generator malfunctions, hull leaks, plunging temperatures, and hell, even the lights going out will put your life in jeopardy. Your escape pod has seen better days, and its old components and failing machinery mean you’ll routinely have to tear things apart to get it working again.
It’s all very tactile and fiddly in the best way: every component of the ship’s various survival systems are objects you can pick up, hold (in both hands), and put into place. If a coupling or battery or circuit breaks, you’ll need to open up the system it’s a part of, root around until you find it, and either repair the broken part or assemble a new one by cannibalizing something else. You’ll really have to get to know your little capsule inside and out—learn which component goes where, what error codes mean (hence the lengthy manual), and how to fix the various problems that crop up as you tumble through the cosmos awaiting a rescue team.
You’re not some hero with a health bar, either: you’re a squishy, fragile human who will have to self-diagnose symptoms like blurred vision, increased heart rate, or labored breathing to figure out what’s wrong with you, and thus, what’s wrong with the ship. Then you’ll have to figure out how to fix it. Then you’ll have to actually take all the steps required to fix it. Prepare to die, probably a lot, as you learn how the pod works (and doesn’t work) and survive longer and longer.
If this sounds like it’d make a great (but tense) VR experience, there’s good news—Tin Can comes with a work-in-progress VR mode. And if you’d like to take one small step for a terrified, asphyxiating man before you take a great leap to buy it on Steam, there’s a free demo that gives you a nice look at the tutorial.