It's not often that I stare at a game's menu screen for a few moments just because it looks so good. That's exactly what I caught myself doing the first time I loaded up Civilization: Beyond Earth with the Rising Tide expansion installed.
There's not much to dislike, especially for die-hard fans of the genre. Double Fine promised a classic point-and-click title when it launched its crowd-funding campaign three long years ago, but the developer didn't just rely on nostalgia. Instead, it made a game that captures the humor of the games Tim Schafer worked on at LucasArts while creating a modern aesthetic that totally suits the story.
Civilization: Beyond Earth sets itself apart from the previous games in the series in ways big and small, and you would be mistaken to dismiss this entry in the strategy franchise as "Civ V in space." Beyond Earth is an excellent standalone experience that can be enjoyed regardless of your history with the series—though having some understanding of how the turn-based strategy gameplay works is certainly an asset. After 300 hours of Civ V, the time has come to move on; I've left Earth and headed into space, and I think I will be there for thousands more turns to come.