One of the most significant gameplay mechanics of the last few years is the ability to craft materials. Thanks to the massive success of Minecraft, there have also been a number of titles influenced by its success that have popped up on the market to capitalize on it. From partial usage of this mechanic in games like Skyrim to Terraria, where it transforms the genre to a 2D perspective, this ground has been well trodden over the last few years. Out of this gold rush comes Craft the World by Devokir Entertainment. It’s obvious to see what kind of game it is at a glance, but the real question is whether it distinguishes itself from the competition and stands tall on its own.
Craft the World is immediately recognizable to anybody who has ever played a crafting game. It starts you off as a single dwarf who must chop, dig, and collect in order to build and fortify a shelter. Things start off very slow with your dwarf because he can only carry a small amount of materials before returning to the base. Thankfully, you quickly gain new dwarves to help out, which speeds things up considerably.
There are two primary modes to Craft the World. The first is a Campaign mode that is essentially a long-form tutorial. The game gives you tasks for collecting and crafting, which teaches you how to properly build a fortress and protect yourself while progressing along a craft tree. Along with the monsters that come out at night, there’s also a countdown to a larger monster that spawns a horde that you must defend yourself from. As far as tutorials go, this game does a good job of teaching you the item combinations in a systematic manner, although it is frustrating that it doesn’t let a more advanced player jump ahead without having to go all the way back on one branch.
If you’re the type of player who has all this crafting nonsense down or just wants to mess around, then the Custom mode is for you. This is your world creation tool, where you can decide the size, type, difficulty, and mode of your experience. In this mode, you are given all the recipes for crafting and you’re free to go for it as soon as you can find appropriate materials. It’s pretty fun, but suffers from the similar problem with the Campaign; it takes a while to get into a groove as you slog through with your one dwarf.
Probably the biggest gameplay difference between Craft the World and other games in this genre is that as the player/controller of your dwarves, you are not directly responsible for moving them around manually. To direct them, you simply need to select enemies or materials that need to be dealt with. They will use the appropriate tool which they have equipped, which makes for a more casual experience on the surface.
One advantage of assigning a series of tasks is that you can just set them off to work without having to manually chop down trees and engage in repetitive busywork. Where it becomes a real problem however is when you are under attack by skeletons, zombies, etc. and instead of rushing into battle like you have commanded them to, your dwarves have run off in the other direction to pick berries or something.
While the general commanding of tasks in Craft the World is straightforward (for the most part, anyway), managing your dwarves is tedious because their health and hunger needs to be dealt with manually. So, while you save time and effort from construction, you have to use it up making sure each dwarf is rested and full. In the grand scheme it’s not a huge deal, but it feels a bit like one step forward and one back. If the developer wants to streamline gameplay, I’m all for that, but it should be streamlined across the board. This may just be personal preference, but frankly I’d rather spend my time chopping down trees and mining than checking to see if my minions are hungry.
Even though it covers much of the same ground both gameplay and objective-wise, Terraria managed to distinguish itself from Minecraft well enough that is was able to stand on its own merits. I’m not so sure that Craft the World has done as good a job. Granted, this game is still in the Early Access stage so it’s possible that Dekovir Entertainment will introduce a host of amazing features that make it the definitive building game on Steam. Then again, maybe it won’t. As it stands, Craft the World is a decent game for $15 if you’ve burned your way through its influences and are looking for something different. If not, you’d be better served seeking out a more polished game for less money.
[+Building never gets old] [+Detailed tutorials] [+Can assign tasks, minimize busywork] [-Slow going to start] [-Micromanaging dwarves is annoying] [-Better, cheaper options available]