Indie Games to Watch in 2020: Survival Sandboxes and Sims

In my previous article, I covered some of the most interesting city builders and management games coming in 2020. For today, I’ll be covering sandbox games and sims, which is a fancy way of saying that the list will be a bit of a hodgepodge of games.

Some will be about survival and crafting, others will be sims trying to semi-accurately recreate a real profession or task. In either case, hopefully you’ll find something that catches your eye.

Here is a list of 17 sandbox and sim games coming out in 2020:

Occupy Mars: The Game
Publisher: PlayWay S.A.
Developer: Pyramid Games
Platform: Windows PC

Occupy Mars: The Game is a survival sandbox game about establishing the first human colony on Mars. Build and gradually upgrade your base, mine for resources, explore the Martian landscape, and survive the many trials and tribulations that will arise as humanity tries to build a self-sufficient colony on the Red Planet.

Occupy Mars: The Game is set to release on March 23rd, 2020.


Rover Mechanic Simulator
Publisher: PlayWay S.A.
Developer: Pyramid Games
Platform: Windows PC

The same companies responsible for Occupy Mars are also working on another sim themed around Mars colonization. Rover Mechanic Simulator is much narrower in scope, and focuses solely on building and repairing the autonomous rovers that are used to explore and exploit the Martian surface.

Rover Mechanic Simulator will be releasing on January 23rd, 2020.


Space Mechanic Simulator
Publisher: PlayWay S.A., Atomic Jelly  
Developer: Tomas Jelonek Studio
Platform: Windows PC

Our third game about fixing things in space is Space Mechanic Simulator. In this mechanic simulator, you are tasked with making repairs to space stations, shuttles, satellites, and rovers. You’ll also get a chance to explore the surfaces of the Moon and Mars with a customizable rover.

Space Mechanic Simulator doesn’t currently have a release date.


Tank Mechanic Simulator
Publisher: PlayWay S.A.
Developer: DeGenerals
Platform: Windows PC

If you rather fix weapons of war than Martian rovers, you might like Tank Mechanic Simulator. You play as the owner of a WWII museum, and are constantly on the lookout for new artifacts to add to your collection. Travel across Europe finding rusty old tank wrecks and restore them so they look like they just rolled off the assembly line.

Tank Mechanic Simulator doesn’t currently have a release date.


Aircraft Carrier Survival
Developer: CreativeForge Games
Platform: Windows PC

Maybe you prefer WWII ships over tanks. In that case, check out Aircraft Carrier Survival, a strategy sim that places you in command of an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Theater of WWII. Complete missions and manage your ship and her crew during disasters like torpedo strikes, hull breaches, and aerial attacks.

Aircraft Carrier Survival is targeting a Q2 2020 release.


Developer: Frozenbyte
Platform: Windows PC

Starbase is an upcoming game from the developers of Trine, and it looks to be their most ambitious game yet. This sandbox MMO allows players to band together, build all kinds of starships and space stations, and engage in large scale warfare. Everything is built from scratch, and everything can be destroyed piece by piece.

Starbase doesn’t currently have a release date.


Dieselpunk Wars
Publisher: Image Power S.A., PlayWay S.A.
Developer: Roasted Games
Platform: Windows PC

Dieselpunk Wars is a sandbox vehicular combat sim where players have the freedom to create whatever over-the-top war machines they can imagine. Airships, giant tanks, hovercraft, and submarines are just a few of the types of vehicles that you can build in the game’s robust construction engine.

Dieselpunk Wars doesn’t currently have a release date.


Summer in Mara
Developer: Chibig
Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4

If you want to take a break from all the mechanical engineering and just grow some crops, then maybe you’ll like Summer in Mara. This colorful and relaxing open world sandbox allows you to explore a tropical archipelago, meet a quirky cast of characters, manage a farm, and gather resources so you can craft useful tools.

Summer in Mara doesn’t currently have a release date.


Publisher: The Irregular Corporation
Developer: James Bendon
Platform: Windows PC

Another cute sandbox adventure coming out this year is Dinkum. Players can team up and work together to explore a tropical island inspired by Australia. Build bustling cities, plant crops, raise farm animals, and more.

Dinkum doesn’t currently have a release date.


Dinosaur Fossil Hunter
Publisher: PlayWay S.A.
Developer: Pyramid Games
Platform: Windows PC

Dinosaur Fossil Hunter allows players to live out their amateur paleontologist dreams in digital form, without all the blazing heat and digging around in piles of dirt. Uncover priceless dinosaur fossils and reconstruct them in a lab so you can display their remains in a public museum.

Dinosaur Fossil Hunter doesn’t currently have a release date.


Contraband Police
Publisher: PlayWay S.A.
Developer: Crazy Rocks
Platform: Windows PC

Contraband Police allows you to play as an unscrupulous border guard in a corrupt third-world country. Inspect cars crossing the border for contraband, and choose to either make an arrest, or look the other way for a bit of cash.

Contraband Police doesn’t currently have a release date.


112 Operator
Publisher: Game Operators, PlayWay S.A.
Developer: Jutsu Games
Platforms: Windows PC, Mac

112 Operator is the follow-up to 2017’s 911 Operator. Like its predecessor, players are tasked with taking emergency calls and dispatching the appropriate responders for the job. 112 Operator features even more cities to play in, new types of emergency responders, redesigned mechanics, and much more.

112 Operator is targeting an early 2020 release date.


AWAY: The Survival Series
Developer: Breaking Walls
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4

Inspired by nature documentaries, AWAY: The Survival Series is a survival game where you play as a tiny Sugar Glider in a large and unforgiving wilderness. Climb, run, jump, and glide your way across lush wilderness environments as you avoid predators and stay ahead of a cataclysmic storm threatening your home.

AWAY: The Survival Series doesn’t currently have a release date.


The Eternal Cylinder
Publisher: Good Shepard Entertainment
Developer: ACE Team
Platform: Windows PC

The Eternal Cylinder is an open world survival puzzle game where players control a herd of strange, alien creatures called Trebhums. These tiny creatures are capable of evolving new abilities and attributes by eating flora and fauna.

This plays a key role in gameplay, as players must search for the best mutations to traverse an alien world and solve different environmental puzzles. All while a giant and mysterious cylinder slowly pursues and crushes everything in its wake.

The Eternal Cylinder doesn’t currently have a release date.


Mr. Prepper
Publisher: PlayWay S.A.
Developer: Rejected Games
Platform: Windows PC

Mr. Prepper is all about creating a massive underground shelter in preparation for a looming apocalyptic event. Gather materials, create secret rooms under your house, stock up on supplies, and avoid the secret government agents determined to stop your attempts at being a free and prepared American patriot.

Mr. Prepper doesn’t currently have a release date.

Developer: 10tons Ltd
Platforms: Windows PC, Linux, Mac

The apocalypse has arrived and civilization is completely destroyed. Luckily, like in the previous game on this list, you were a paranoid prepper and had a shelter ready for just such an occasion. DYSMANTLE is the next game from 10ton Ltd, and its a survival crafting RPG about exploring the remnants of the surface world. The environments are also nearly 100% destructible, assuming you have the right tools.

DYSMANTLE doesn’t currently have a release date.


Last Oasis
Developer: Donkey Crew
Platform: Windows PC

Finally, we come to Last Oasis, a post-apocalyptic survival MMO where players can team up to build gigantic, intricate walking bases. Players can form tribes and cooperate as they push to the East, trying to stay ahead of the scorching sun that is burning its way across a desolate Earth.

Last Oasis is targeting a Q1 release date.

That’s all for our article about some of the most promising sims and survival sandbox games coming in 2020. Next time, we’ll take a look at some of the platformers and Metroidvanias coming later this year.

Until then, which games on this list caught your attention? Which other games are you excited about this year? Tell us more in the comments below!

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Frank was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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