My latest tablet obsession has been Craft the World, a title that I snagged after reading a positive review that made the game look up my alley. It’s been out for a while on PC and ony recently made the jump to iPad, but if my first couple of days of playing it are any indication, it could be a keeper!
Craft the World is a blend of other successful sandbox titles, most notably Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress. Actually, the fact that it’s a less complicated Dwarf Fortress was a huge plus for me (I’ve always wanted to get into DF but lacked the time to take a five-year course in understanding its mechanisms).
You get dumped out into a world with a single Dwarf and are tasked with ensuring his (and, eventually, his companions’) survival. This is done by three primary activities: gathering resources, fighting critters, and building stuff. The cool thing here is that instead of controlling just one character who manually does all of this stuff, you get to order a whole herd of Dwarves around, RTS-style, by queuing up activities for them to do. Want a tree chopped down? Poke the tree and a Dwarf will get to it, sooner or later. Want a tunnel carved out? Just make an outline and it’ll get done. Does that sheep need to die? Give it the finger of doom.
I think the RTS feel of Craft the World is what makes it more relaxing and enjoyable for me. I have some measure of control, but I also get to watch little virtual dudes do their stuff on their own. Making the bigger decisions and leaving the combat and gathering to the peons is my style, anyway.
There’s always something going on in this game, too. When the day cycles to night, everything gets darker and skeletons and zombies come out to attack. There are also portals that open up every 45-60 minutes that send an invasion that must be defeated (initially by Dwarves, and later on with automated defenses). Meanwhile, a shelter for the Dwarves must be built, their needs (sleep, food, safety) must be attended, and always, always crafting must be done.
I guess you can’t get away with not crafting when it’s in the title, although this is the least interesting part of the game to me. In theory, it’s pretty cool to turn all of those resources into tables and armor and houses, but Craft the World’s crafting interface is kind of clunky. I’m really not thrilled with having to drag individual resources over to a pattern the first time you have to make something (what does that add to the experience, really? I have the resources, just make it already.). Fortunately, successive crafting attempts don’t require this.
Even with a small world, CTW’s games go on a long, long time. Progress is made gradually and there a lot of recipes and crafting tiers to progress through. Some resources — such as animals, trees, bushes, and wheat — natrually replenish, but rocks and earth do not, so I’m a little concerned about running out of ore at some point in the future.
Anyway, I’m passing on a recommendation to check this out if you are interested in a more casual and colorful version of Dwarf Fortress (with less, but not no, death). My biggest caveat is that the iPad version is $10, which is kind of pricey for an app, but I felt it was worth it.