Affordable Space Adventures is a 2.5D exploration game. It uses the futuristic idea that people can pay to become a professional space traveler for a short while. Through the company Uexplore people they rent a Small Craft™. The company chooses an uncharted, but safe planet in space, the Small Craft is loaded into a mothership and it is then dropped off at the planet to explore. After 72 hours the mothership returns to pick up the ship and bring it home. The player buys such a vacation and ends up on the planet Spectaculon. Something goes wrong however and the ship ends up in a dark underground as the mothership crashed. The goal of the game is to explore the environment and find a way back home through a communication pod to send a distress signal.
The game uses a large number of Wii U specific features. It is played using the GamePad with a dual-screen setup. The TV screen shows the ship in its environment while the GamePad is used to control the ship's computer instruments. It boots up like a computer, displays status messages and has various knobs and sliders resembling a HUD. Using touch screen controls the player has to manage thrust, weight, gravity, stabilization and other elements such as boosts, temperature and different engines that become available gradually. The ship is damaged in the beginning and more options become available as the ship repairs itself over time. The instruments do not only affect movement, but also influence sound, heat and electricity. Using different settings is often required to solve environment based physics puzzles to progress.
There are enemies and hazards in the game, but it is not a shoot'em up as most confrontations need to be avoided using stealth, by adjusting the ship's instruments. The scanner plays an important role as it reveals information about various alien artifacts and helps the player determine if they are sensitive to light, sound or electricity. The ship is steered using the left stick or the GamePad's gyroscope and the right stick controls a flashlight and scanner. Optionally the game can be played with up to three players cooperatively with asymmetric multiplayer, where one controls movement (Pilot), the other the scanner and flashlight (Navigator), and the third one all other instruments as the Astronaut. These tasks can also be divided between two players. Players each use a GamePad or the Wii Remote (optionally with the Nunchuk) and the Wii U Pro Controller for the pilot.
The game is split up in 38 stages with checkpoints at regular intervals. It incorporates the Miiverse in an usual at certain points in the game without breaking the fourth wall. There are two difficulty levels: Technical and Tourist (with easier puzzles). The game goes at great lengths not to break immersion or the fourth wall right from the start for the entire game.