As of now, three main gameplay mechanics have been implemented (screenshot are from a russian version, the english one is currently under development):
1) Traveling and fighting in space. In this mode the player can travel around star systems and between them, communicate and fight with other spaceships, and land on planets.
Losing and getting your ship destroyed in this mode means game over.
2) Planetary mode. In this mode the player controls a landing party sent to investigate a planet or an artificial structure. The landing party consists of a limited number of specialists of the three main categories (engineers, scientists and soldiers), and the effectiveness of gameplay actions depends on the composition of the landing party (more soldiers means more damage, and extra engineers will boost the speed of collecting resources).
Losing in this mode will only lead to losing your ground party. As a result, the ship will have fewer scientists and engineers for carrying out current tasks, but the game will continue as long as there is at least one living person aboard.
3) The dialogue system. Apart from the actual conversations, it allows you to complete text mini-quests, which will have the player thinking hard about how to reach his goal
On the screenshot you can see an excerpt from a quest where it so happens that the player has to carry out a trade deal on behalf of some local alien merchants. And you can only do it correctly after having understood the basics of their code of commerce.