Here's how a typical game works: You spend 20 hours or more pounding through a series of pre-planned linear obstacles, very often hurling your controller across the room or banging on your desk in frustration as you meet a boss that seems well nigh impossible until you go read a walk-through... And when you are done, you are done, because you've finished, and why would you ever want to play it again?
Here's how Strange Adventures in Infinite Space works: You spend twenty minutes or less, you have a satisfying game experience, and there is never a moment of frustration... if you fail it doesn't really matter because you can always start another game. And when it's done, you find yourself saying "damn, it's over already? I want to play again."
In SAIS, you have a starship, are in hock to a mobster, and have to raise enough cash to pay him off in a limited number of days. You click on a star system and warp there, finding... something ... sometimes a strange alien artifact, sometimes moaning space whales, sometimes people who help you out or want to trade, and sometimes hostile alien craft you must fight. And then you keep going until you run out of days (you can be late, but pay an interest penalty), and either pay off your debt or (presumably) have your legs broken.
The game is randomly generated each time, and the universe you face is different every time you play. A huge number of different encounters can occur in the universe, so even though you may run into the same encounter the next time you play, even after you've played a lot you may encounter something new--and anyway, you never encounter them in the same order.
This randomness has a downside; sometimes you're just screwed from the start, because you run into the tough aliens at the beginning, when you haven't found cool weapons with which to upgrade your ship. Them's the breaks, and no big deal; you lose, it happens, play again, better luck next time.
Ernest Adams calls this "the perfect little game." We're not sure there's any such thing as perfection, this side of the grave at least, but the sentiment is spot on. SAIS is, if you will, a gem-like "casual" game for people who don't play "casual" games... That is, like casual games, it's a quick play and easy to pick up and a highly enjoyable way to waste a little time. But unlike casual games, it's not another braindead pick-three puzzle or some damn thing; it's a space exploration and combat game stripped down to its bare essentials. Quick pick-up gaming for geeks like you and me.
You will like this game.
N.B.: The developers have now released it for free.