Parallax Software's Descent scratched an itch that few games have been able to, uh, also scratch as well. Thank goodness for indie developers doing their best to capture the formula, come up with their own tweaks and improvements and deliver it in consumable form. Take NeonXSZ -- it's currently in alpha, but there's a demo you can crack open to see whether it's scratchy enough for you.
If the demo is too big a step, then you can always watch the video above. It's a little rough around the edges -- movement doesn't seem as smooth as it could be (though that might be because of the recording quality) -- but I'm very in love with the ability to completely modify your ship, including its appearance.
Rather than flying around in an actual ship with guns, engines and other critical components a space-faring vehicle of destruction might need, you're instead zooming about in cyberspace. Here's how developer Intravenous Software pitches it:
In NeonXSZ (pronounced Neon Excesses) you are injected into cyberspace to stake your place in a war of virus verses machine. During your journey you will fly dozens of spaceships with hundreds of upgrades allowing you to create totally unique spacecraft with which to wage war. Will you protect the operating system or join the infection to bring it down?
NeonXSZ is our little homage to Descent combined with the frenetic adrenaline pumping feel and gameplay mechanics of Quake. Then add Diablo's loot explosions, RPG elements, leveling up, procedurally-generated environments and enemies. Finish it all off with truly open-world gameplay inside a micro ecosystem of up to one thousand unique little AI dudes buzzing around getting into fights and doing their own thing.
Doesn't sound too bad, does it? According to the game's Desura page, the alpha already has 25+ hours of content, with some 100 hours planned for the final product. Right now, you can pick up the game for $US9.99, or wait until it's completed and snag it for the more expensive $US19.99.