There are many things I find captivating about ΔV: Rings of Saturn. The stark contrast between the black beyond and the bleached asteroids is definitely one that hit me early on. Then there's the DOS-era UI that wouldn't look out of place on a CRT on the bridge of the Nostromo. The music is worth a mention too, as it glides between moments of wonderment and the imminent threat of having your hull punched through by a wayward speck of dust. Most of all though, what does it for me is the fact that ΔV is a space mining game. As in, just mining. It does other things too, as you manage your ship's systems, crew and income to some degree, but ostensively you just chew through rocks so that you can sell what's digestible to be able to upgrade the dentures on your old boiler of a spaceship.
Mining, of course, has been a staple of space games since the first of them took off, but probably not since Asteroids has it been the main attraction (and arguably not even in that game, since at the time the rocks were more intelligently designed than most aliens). Thus, for the first time in perhaps forever, someone has carefully thought through and then made a game about what most space game developers see as an afterthought. And, here's the thing: it rocks!
It's the detail towards scientific accuracy that appeals in this case, from the aforementioned visual flourishes to the appropriately kludgy controls and the physics of realistically modelled space flight, which, if it were a 3D representation of reality, would probably make it close to unplayable for the likes of me. I normally look down on 2D games (ho-ho), preferring to maintain the illusion that I'm not one-dimensional, but the necessary concession here is a welcome one that works to ensure ΔV feels simultaneously approachable and challenging.
ΔV: Rings of Saturn has been in Steam Early Access since last August and has seen a consistent stream of updates ever since, often at the direction of players that frequent the game's Discord channel. As a consequence the small community is very active, the developer is quick to respond to questions and I have to say that, while I've not played Rings of Saturn nearly as much as it's been updated, I almost always check-in when there's a patch; if only to enjoy the productive exchanges that follow. I'm not sure how long ΔV will remain in Early Access, but one hopes that the good-natured conversations will persist for at least as long as the updates do.