Since Minecraft popularized the voxel aesthetic with its creative block-like beauty, there have been a plethora of games that have followed in its stead. Some of them have followed it to a tee, recreating that blocky look, while others have used voxels to create more detailed environments and characters.
However, many people still associate voxel graphics with games like Minecraft, and while it is a great game, there are many other titles out today that are doing great work with voxels.10 Dustoff Heli Rescue
Dustoff Heli Rescue has players pilot a helicopter under heavy gunfire in an attempt to rescue wounded soldiers, all from the comfort of home. This game features real-time shadows and lighting, different weather conditions, and a number of different environments that range from jungles to caves.
The game’s voxel graphics may not be the most detailed, but its fast-paced gameplay and great lighting make up for the lack of detail. Players can expect action-packed, arcade-style gameplay across 25 missions.9 Earth Defense Force: World Brothers
Marketing itself almost exclusively (and accurately) as a voxel-based version of other games in the Earth Defense Force franchise, this game provides a lot of customization for fans of previous EDF titles, and many playable characters. For some fans of Earth Defense Force, the voxel-based graphics are a negative, but for those that love voxel graphics, this game is worth a look, especially for fans of Earth Defense Force.
Because the game brings in enemies and characters from other games in the franchise, the roster is both large and varied, so for players that enjoy the different tones that World Brothers has, it takes a while to get stale. Graphically, the game does what it can with its voxel-based style to recreate the huge creatures of EDF, but uninspired lighting and environments bring this game down visually.8 Selaco
Although the game is yet to release, Selaco currently has a demo live on Steam, and if the full game is anything as good as the demo, players can expect a voxel-based combination of games like F.E.A.R., QUAKE, and DOOM. Selaco’s F.E.A.R. influence is immediately apparent in its enemy AI, while its retro-FPS influences can be felt in its gunplay.
The game’s Steam page tells players to expect an immersive world with destructible objects that indicate the carnage players have caused during combat, as well as a lengthy linear campaign with a fully-fledged sci-fi story. Selaco’s visual style is extremely unique, using low-frame animations, exceptional lighting, and well-imagined sci-fi environments to create an immersive atmosphere.7 Riverbond
This top-down action game combines classic hack-and-slash gameplay with a twin-stick shooter in beautifully imagined voxel-based levels with real-time physics and destruction. The game even has cross-over characters from games like Shovel Knight, Enter The Gungeon, and Bastion.
Riverbond can be played single-player but also features up to 4-player local co-op that fits the game perfectly with its old-school chaos. The game features a variety of weapons, as well as bosses to defeat, providing a great lightweight couch co-op experience for fans of voxel-based graphics.6 Unrailed!
This online and local co-op game has players escorting a train as far as they can take it (or a specific length, depending on the game mode), a task that involves gathering resources for crafting tracks, putting out fires (both figuratively and literally), and carving a path through the voxel environment.
Like Minecraft, Unrailed! uses its blocky aesthetic in tandem with its gameplay mechanics, allowing players to gather resources by mining rock and chopping wood, which can also be used to build bridges to take the train across water. These mechanics are central to the gameplay, as the train never stops moving, and must always have tracks in front of it. To be successful, players will need to master resource management and teamwork to keep the train running.5 Staxel
This relaxing farming game combines the creative and explorative nature of Minecraft with the farming and town gameplay of Stardew Valley. The combination of these two gameplay styles creates a cozy and engaging atmosphere that is sure to keep players in the sandbox.
Staxel also borrows from Terraria with its village-building elements, tasking players with attracting new residents to the village, building their houses, and decorating them. The game also features online multiplayer, allowing players to invite friends to their farm and enjoy the lovingly crafted voxel environment together.4 Shroomchitect
This game, developed by burgeoning indie team PUNKCAKE Délicieux (creators of Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate), is described by its developers as an “atmospheric creative game”. Shroomchitect takes inspiration from recent creative hit Townscaper, as well as classics like The Sims and Dwarf Fortress, but at a much smaller scale.
The game aims to be accessible, providing a stress-free experience intended to relax the player, rather than bog them down with heavy micromanagement – players can’t even lose. Visually, the game is stunning, combining home-brew voxel graphics with pixel art to create an extremely unique look.3 Shadows Of Doubt
This game takes place in an alternate, industrialized version of the 1980s that borders on cyberpunk. The game has a heavy old-school noir atmosphere to it, which is pertinent considering Shadows of Doubt is a detective game. The gameplay is largely stealth-based, with a lot of immersive-sim style mechanics too, such as multiple ways to trespass into key locations.
What’s most impressive about Shadows of Doubt, however, is the fact that it gives players complete freedom in its small but extensively detailed open world. Players can travel anywhere in Shadows of Doubt’s city, both interiors and exteriors, and observe the fully simulated world. Every citizen in Shadows of Doubt has a daily routine that players can use to crack cases.2 Battlebit Remastered
This Battlefield inspired low-poly voxel-based FPS combines up to 254 player servers with fully destructible environments and hectic squad-based gameplay to create a chaotic and immersive experience that harkens back to the days of Bad Company 2.
The game may not be the prettiest, but it uses its voxel-based graphics to enhance its gameplay with near-fully destructible maps that fully immerse players in the environment and help to sell the action. Battlebit Remastered’s low-poly voxel environments also make it an accessible game for players with all kinds of PCs, bringing in a wider range of players necessitated by the game’s large servers.1 Teardown
Of all the games mentioned, Teardown is perhaps the best at looking great while simultaneously using its voxel aesthetic to enhance its core mechanics. Teardown simulates fully destructible voxel environments for players to plan and enact several heists by tearing down walls to create shortcuts, stacking objects to reach higher ground, and using the environment to complete each heist quickly and creatively.
On top of a 40-mission campaign, Teardown also has extensive mod support, a built-in level editor, and a creative mode for those who want to build up as well as tear down.