Builder Games  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Builder Games  RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network V Rising Early Access Review: A Bloody Good Time Wed, 01 Jun 2022 13:19:12 -0400 Michael Feghali

We've gotten our fair share of vampire games over the last few years, and it's been a mixed bag, to say the least. Now, Stunlock Studios have released V Risingan open-world vampire survival game in Steam Early Access.

V Rising lets you take on the role of a vampire that has awakened and been stripped of its powers after hibernating for centuries. You'll rebuild your vampire empire and reclaim power while quenching your thirst for blood. While the basic premise should be familiar to anyone who has played games in this genre, V Rising has a uniqueness to it that makes it stand out from the crowd.

V Rising Early Access Review: A Bloody Good Time

V Rising features several game modes. In PvE, you can play solo or cooperate with other vampires on a server to take down enemies and revive each other. By joining a PvP server, you can attack each other and raid castles, and it is recommended to play alongside some friends to help each other out.

As a vampire that was recently stripped of abilities, your character is still powerful but also vulnerable. You can get swarmed by groups of enemies easily if you aren’t constantly moving around. So you'll have to pick your fights and avoid unnecessary combat when you're low on health.

Initially, melee attacks with your sword are the go-to approach for taking down foes. But you don't put your vampire powers to good use this way. Casting flashy ranged abilities allows you to defeat enemies from a safe distance without exposing yourself to their attacks. There is no mana or stamina bar, but there is a cooldown for each ability, and you’ll need to use every tool in your arsenal to survive. Learning how and when to use each ability at your disposal is key.

Sword combat is fun, but things become extremely satisfying once you learn to cycle different abilities so that you're constantly casting spells without worrying about the cooldown timer.

When enemies are weakened, you can feed on their blood to refill your blood pool, essential for keeping you alive. In addition, feeding on blood grants you bonus effects depending on the type of enemy (warrior, rogue, creature, etc.). Also, depending on the quality of the blood, your character can unlock temporary buffs based on a tier system. For example, feeding on creatures will initially grant you increased movement speed at the first tier. Once you gain enough blood quality to reach the second tier, you’ll also get increased sun resistance.

In true vampiric fashion, you’ll have to sniff out bosses by following the scent of their blood across the map. The game does a great job of giving each of the 37 bosses a unique look and set of abilities to ensure that each encounter feels different than the previous.

Unlike most RPGs, there is no experience system for leveling up your character. Instead, your power is determined by the gear that you have equipped. While bosses do put up a good fight, none of them feel particularly unfair or overpowered as long as your gear is sufficiently powerful. Tracking and defeating bosses rewards not only resources but also new abilities and spells. For instance, defeating the first boss and feeding on its blood grants you the ability to transform into a wolf for faster traversal.

If there are two things that vampires hate it is silver and the daylight. While the former deals continuous DPS, it isn't as persistent as the latter, which proves to be your most dangerous foe in V Rising. The day and night cycle means that you'll need to be very careful when moving around when it's sunny. 

You can be in the sun for a few seconds at a time before your health starts to deplete rapidly. The direction of the sun will also vary as the day passes so you won't be able to stay in the same spot for too long.

Of course, you could always wait things out by sleeping in your coffin, but those brave enough to venture out during the day must hop between spots of shade and stay in the shadows. This can be done by taking cover behind trees and structures as you move around.

Within my first few hours playing, though, it became apparent that this is primarily a survival game with few vampire elements added to the mix. V Rising takes a step back from the typical vampire activities and puts most of the focus on crafting and building.

You’ll start off by crafting makeshift weapons and equipment just to get yourself going, though you’ll have a fully-fledged castle with a sawmill, furnace, and blood press to conduct all your typical vampire activities soon enough.

Here, managing resources and being efficient is key for quick progression. Grinding for resources can be a slogfest, so you’ll need to optimize the process as much as possible by taking note of the exact number of resources needed and having multiple refinement stations working in tandem.

There is no worse feeling than making a long journey from your castle and back only to realize that you are just short of the requirements and must make another trip across the map. While you can fast-travel to certain locations, you cannot take materials with you; you'll often need to make the long journey back to your base on foot.

The world of Vardoran is expansive and diverse, consisting of dense forests, vast farmlands, and snowy mountains.  Traversing this hostile world is no easy task. Almost every NPC you come across will instantly attack you. In this hostile environment, NPCs will even battle it out with each other, which can prove to be helpful.

While the core gameplay loop and mechanics aren’t entirely original, V Rising has a certain uniqueness to it that kept me hooked for hours on end. The highly addictive objective system helps guide you without holding your hand. For instance, you will need leather to perform certain upgrades, but the game does not tell you where to get it. Instead, you’ll need to figure that out for yourself or refer to a guide on how to get leather. Completing these quests will help familiarize you with the different refinement stations and raw materials without overwhelming new players.

Customizing the look of your vampire, however not that important given the top-down perspective, is a nice touch. Being able to tweak your character’s hairstyle, skin tone, and physical features lends a sense of ownership to your vampire kingdom. 

One feature that V Rising desperately needs, though, is a photo mode. It's an oversight that you can't fully appreciate the grandiosity of your castles from the top-down perspective after spending so much time building them. Even disabling the HUD isn't an option, which makes taking screenshots even trickier

Of course, the game could benefit from some quality-of-life improvements and finishing touches, as well, but V Rising is very close to being a finished product. Throughout my time with the game, I never encountered any game-breaking bugs or performance issues that cannot be ironed out in upcoming updates.

V Rising Early Access Review — The Bottom Line



  • Fluid and engaging combat.
  • Deep crafting system.
  • Large world with plenty to explore.


  • Top-down perspective can be limiting.
  • Minor technical hiccups.


Early Access games tend to be hit or miss, but V Rising has shown great promise with its deep crafting system, engaging gameplay, and addictive objective system. V Rising has quickly built a large fanbase and is already charting among the Steam games with the most concurrent players.

The overall state of the game is impressive given that it is still in Early Access; only time will tell if it can compete with the likes of Valheim. V Rising has plenty to offer at a competitive price of $19.99, making it a no-brainer for fans of action role-playing and survival games.

[Note: Stunlock Studios provided the copy of V Rising used for this Early Access review.] 

My Time at Sandrock Early Access Review: Grind for Glory Thu, 26 May 2022 13:29:28 -0400 Josh Broadwell

On my first day in Sandrock, a man in a cape swore to defend the town with the power of his chiseled chin, and a yak zealot tried getting me to drink yak milk when we first met. On my second day in Sandrock, I collapsed after running out of stamina while trying to gather enough resources for a simple building project.

If this sounds a lot like My Time at Portia, you’re not wrong. My Time at Sandrock is a follow-up, after all, and in many respects, it's a crafting-centered desert skin stretched over Portia’s venerable bones. It’s got everything you’d expect from a life-sim, from dating and town improvement to item building and even farming, and while it does most of these things very well, it doesn’t really try anything we haven’t seen before.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Some excessive grinding makes Sandrock a chore at times, but it’s so charming and finely crafted that you can’t help but fall in love.

My Time at Sandrock Early Access Review: Grind for Glory

My Time at Sandrock starts with your arrival in the eponymous town, after tailoring your builder to your heart's content with a surprisingly detailed character creator. You're here not to fix up your dear grandad’s old farm, but to take over from the former builder Mason, who seems rather relieved to be putting the desert oasis behind him. It’s not long before you find out why. Yan, the town commissioner, has a tendency to bully builders – and everyone else – into doing whatever he wants, typically without much recompense if he can get away with it.

Still, you’re here and determined to make the best of it, bringing peace – or “telesis,” as one out-of-place instance of the game’s randomly implemented parlance calls it – to the town and its residents. That means taking on their requests and building items ranging from the useful, such as an elevator that lets salvagers reach valuable materials in dangerous places, to the convenient, like an umbrella seat near the local oasis.

It’s a winning formula we’ve seen before, and once you get into a pattern of crafting, socializing, and exploring, it’s incredibly easy to lose yourself in Sandrock. Or it would be if it didn’t keep doing its best to get in the way and make itself a chore. 

You can do a surprising number of things with Sandrock's character tools, and some things you probably you shouldn't do.

Crafting games always require a certain amount of grinding, but Sandrock takes things a bit too far. Consider your recycler, the only way to get a handful of important materials for main missions in the early game. You’ll need to find the right resources from the right locations to feed it, though there’s a chance during scavenging that you won’t end up with what you want anyways. Then there’s the recycler itself.

Say you’re after four copper sticks. Ideally, you put in four pieces of copper scrap and get the sticks. Instead, it took 15 copper scraps and almost two days of fuel to get what I needed. Fuel is, thankfully, easy to come by, but you also need water to power every machine at your workshop. Later, you can get a dew collector to make water gathering easier, but for a while, you’re stuck getting dew off plants. 10 dew stacks add one percentage point of water to your tank, and you get where this is going.

Done well, these kinds of loops are supremely satisfying and even relaxing, but in its Early Access phase, Sandrock asks a bit too much of you to really be enjoyable in its opening five hours or so — even 12 and 15 hours in don't change things much quite yet. Even after you get better machines and a stockpile of materials, most blueprints require too much time to build and effort – getting copper to smelt into bars to turn into 10 copper screws and so on. 

Much of it just feels like busywork right now, though Sandrock is also happy to let you be as not-busy as you want. From what I can tell, no main missions or side missions have time limits, so if you want to take a week to make those copper screws, spending the rest of your time chatting with folks or exploring ruins, you’re free to do it as long as you have the interest and the stamina.

I can’t say any of the characters grabbed me emotionally, but they’re a cheerful, sometimes bizarre, bunch that almost always has something interesting to say. And the ruins you can explore are fine, but nothing as in-depth as Stardew's, for example (that's not to mention how few easily-findable items give any substantial amount of stamina to keep going for too long).

In the end, though, I was happy to keep playing My Time at Sandrock because it has such a strong sense of place, a sense that only grows as your work helps contribute to the town’s growth. Expanding businesses, new conveniences, new features, and a general sense of growing well-being are the fruits of your labor, direct effects of your actions that you often don’t see in similar games.

Considering Sandrock is still in Early Access, I imagine the rougher points will gradually be smoothed out so what makes it charming and enjoyable can shine through even stronger.

[Note: Pathea Games provided the copy of My Time at Sandrock used for this EA review.]

Lakeburg Legacies is a Lighthearted Kingdom-Building Life Sim Sun, 13 Jun 2021 18:30:02 -0400 Josh Broadwell

What if The Sims, but Crusader Kings? That's what Ishtar Games asked themselves and came up with Lakeburg Legacies as the answer.

Described as a light management sim "with a social twist," Lakeburg Legacies tasks you with keeping the affairs of your kingdom in order and sparking some affairs amongst the citizens to boost the population.

Every playthrough is randomized, so no two scenarios are the same, and you can destroy your kingdom with careless decisions. Still, it's much less serious than something like Crusader Kings.

It's a refreshing change of pace for Ishtar. CEO Matthieu Richez said:

Having previously worked on titles with more tense, survival settings (such as Dead in Vinland and The Last Spell), with this new IP we're excited to bring a lighter mood to our work - while keeping what makes the core of the studio design philosophy.

Lakeburg Legacies will release on PC via Steam and is available for wishlisting now.

Make Your Own 2D Mario Game in Super Mario Maker 2's Final Update Tue, 21 Apr 2020 13:55:36 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Last night, Nintendo dropped a surprise announcement covering Super Mario Maker 2's final big content update. There's a slew of new power-ups to shake up your level designing, but the real star for Super Mario Maker 2's final update is World Maker.

World Maker lets you string together a handful of courses on a Super Mario World style map, then string up to eight of these together. Essentially, you're making your very own 2D Mario game here.

You'll choose from a number of classic background styles, like snow, cave, and volcano. Plus you can arrange the courses however you like — straight path to the goal, bonus stages hidden on the map, or close to whatever you can dream of.

And you can create in so many more ways now. The big final Super Mario Maker 2 update is introducing more than a dozen new elements. These are limited to certain styles and include:

  • Super Mario Bros. 2 mushroom (lets you pick up enemies; works in SMB theme)
  • Key that summons Phanto (same)
  • Super Mario Bros. 3 Frog Suit (lets you swim with ease and run on water)
  • Super Mario World balloon (slowly fly through the air)
  • Super Mario Bros. U Super Acorn (glide through the air)
  • Boomerang Flower (Super Mario 3D World only)
  • Cannon Box (Super Mario 3D World only)
  • Propeller Box (Super Mario 3D World only)
  • Red Pow Box (destroys multiple blocks, Super Mario 3D World only)
  • Goomba Mask (avoid enemies, Super Mario 3D World only)
  • Bullet Bill Mask (fly horizontally, Super Mario 3D World only)

As if that wasn't enough, the update introduces all seven Koopalings, each with different behaviors and skills. They aren't compatible with 3D World style, though. They're accompanied by the Mechakoopa enemy, in the normal fire-shooting form and a laser-shooting one; they also fly in night stages. Like the Koopalings, the Mechakoopas aren't compatible with 3D World stages.

Finally, there's the on/off trampoline switch for 3D World, which turns certain platforms into super-bouncy trampolines.

It's a heck of a final update, though we are a bit disappointed there wasn't a final style to fill that tantalizing gap next to Super Mario 3D World. Still, between this, The Legend of Zelda update, and SMM2 being pretty great on its own, there's a lot to dig into here.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Super Mario Maker 2 news as it develops.

Goo-rab Your Hammers: Dragon Quest Builders 2 Slimes Onto PC Soon Tue, 19 Nov 2019 14:15:32 -0500 Josh Broadwell

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is getting a PC release. The critically acclaimed building game that released on consoles earlier this year is coming to desktops on December 10.

This is pretty big news for Dragon Quest PC fans, and not just because DQ Builders 2 is one of the year's sleeper hits. The first Builders game, and basically every Dragon Quest game before DQ XI, hasn't been ported to PC. Considering that, this will be the first time a decent number of people will get to experience the Minecraft-inspired spinoff.

Fortunately, you don't need knowledge of the first Builders game or even of Dragon Quest II — which Builders 2 is loosely based on — to fully enjoy the game.

Square Enix is adding some additional goodness to further the enjoyment too. The Steam version of Dragon Quest Builders 2 is getting all the Season Pass content released on the console versions, and those who pre-order the game or purchase it before January 6, 2020, will also get:

  • Ornamental Medicinal Herb Recipe
  • Dragon Quest Logo Recipe
  • Ornamental Chimaera Wing Recipe
  • Five Sigil Block Recipes for building decorative blocks with sun, stars, moon, water and soul motifs
  • Legendary Line Art Recipe
  • Lo-Res Luminary Recipes

The Steam pre-purchase page is live now, but there are no details about Dragon Quest Builders 2's PC specs yet.

Either way, once it does launch, we've got any and every contingency covered with our (dragon's) den full of Dragon Quest Builder 2 guides. Stay tuned for more on this building game as it develops. 

Dragon Quest Builders 2 Review: A Textbook Example Of A Sequel Done Right Thu, 11 Jul 2019 09:15:02 -0400 David Jagneaux

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is the perfect sequel. To be clear: that doesn't mean it's a perfect game by any means, but if you enjoyed the first one or had some specific, common issues with it, then you're very likely going to love this follow-up. 

More so than most any sequel I've seen in recent memory, it takes everything about the first game, improves it, expands it, and makes it better from top to bottom all without feeling redundant. It's actually pretty impressive.

Dialogue Boxes Galore

I never put a whole lot of time into the original, but I played enough to approach this review with some ground-level expectations. Despite being familiar with the previous game, an avid consumer of JRPGs, and fan of the core Dragon Quest franchise, I was not prepared for the sheer volume of text in this game. I'm not exaggerating. If you told me Dragon Quest Builders 2 has more lines of dialogue than The Witcher 3, I'd probably believe you. 

The premise here is that you're a rare and talented "builder" that possesses the unique gift of being able to, you guessed it, build stuff. That means busting out your book to jot down crafting recipes and blueprint ideas precisely when the narrative demands it. 

Truth be told, the story is all but meaningless after the first couple of hours, at which point you finally get to leave the starting island.

The game's broken up into several large themed islands with self-contained quest progressions that gradually teach you the game's various layers such as planting, mining, and so on. Each island has its own set of resources and eventually, you'll unlock access to anything and everything back on the main starting island, which is a bit like your home base as you recruit villagers to come back with you.

Building With Purpose

What originally attracted me to the Dragon Quest Builders franchise as a whole is the fact that it puts the addictive "collect, craft, build" gameplay loop from popular sandbox games such as Minecraft into a package with a clearer, more structured design. Instead of being a pure sandbox, you've got NPCs to chat with, a story to progress through, dedicated chunks of content to do, and a driving sense of purpose. Eventually, you can ignore it all and treat it like a pure sandbox, too, so it's kind of the best of both worlds in a way.

The downside to this is that even after a dozen or so hours, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is obsessed with teaching you. Even if it's something you figured out on your own, sifting through countless dialogue boxes over and over is tedious. I usually am very much against not reading the dialogue in games like this; I'm a writer so, of course, I appreciate good prose, but it eventually gets monotonous and patronizing in this case.

All of the writing is cute and charming, but sometimes I just wanted to get on with things already.

From a gameplay perspective, Dragon Quest Builders 2 feels really good. It uses a sort of middle ground between being top-down and isometric with a camera that can pan and zoom a bit to get the right angle. Thankfully, it helps establish a good sense of scale for how large the settings often are.

You'll spend most of your time completing simple checklist-style quests, but once you get a bit into the first non-starter island, things open up more. You'll start building up villages and recruiting NPC villagers that can go with you on adventures, along with your combat buddy, Malroth. 

As a first for the series, you can even assign tasks to villagers, too, like collecting certain items or even working on completing structures by following blueprints. Being able to offload a lot of the busy work to your helpers is a huge quality of life improvement.

Learning New Tricks

Speaking of changes and new features, the biggest addition here is multiplayer. Just like Dragon Quest 2 itself added a party to the game instead of the original's single protagonist, Dragon Quest Builders 2 adds NPC companions and player companions as well.

Combat received an overhaul as well by letting you attack much more quickly, removing the damage you'd take from touching enemies previously (it was super annoying,) and increasing the intensity a bit across the board. It's still just mashing attack and moving away from enemy swipes, but it's less tedious at least, even if not remarkable.

In terms of moment-to-moment gameplay, though, the biggest improvement to me is the enormous inventory expansion. No longer do you need to constantly drop things off in storage or sift through chests to find items. You've basically just got bottomless pockets this time around. Add in a Breath of the Wild-style glider, teleporters spread across islands, and a flute to help find rare items and it really rounds out the sequel package here in a great way.

And you can swim now, too!

  • Great improvement on the original in basically every way,
  • Lots of wonderful quality of life improvements,
  • Tons of stuff to do with dozens of hours of content,
  • Normally tedious stuff is handled very well.
  • Combat is still a bit boring,
  • At its core, it's still more of the same,
  • Story is extremely forgettable, albeit well-written.

At the end of the day, you probably already decided whether Dragon Quest Builders 2 was for you from reading the features list summary on Wikipedia or the storefront page of your choice. This doesn't reinvent the blocky cube wheel, and it doesn't do a whole lot to stand out other than refining its existing formula, but for fans of the original, that should be more than enough.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 releases on July 12, 2019, for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

[Note: A copy of Dragon Quest Builders 2 was provided by Square Enix for the purpose of this review.]

Jurassic World: Evolution Roars to Life With New Gameplay Footage Tue, 03 Apr 2018 17:10:11 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Having developed games such as Rollercoaster Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon, and Planet Coaster, Frontier Developments is well versed in the nuances of management sims and park builders. But now, they're bringing their years of expertise in those strategy sub-genres to Isla Nubar and the Muertes Archipelago with Jurassic World: Evolution

In a recent, 20-minute hands-on demo (which you can see above), Evolution's Lead Designer, Andy Fletcher, and Executive Producer Rich Newbold showed players what they can expect from the dino park sim when it releases digitally on June 12 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. 

Based on the footage shown at the event, Jurassic World: Evolution won't just see players plopping down ranger stations or designing Tyranasaur enclosures (although it will have its fair share of that). Both Fletcher and Newbold confirmed that Evolution will feature dinosaur breeding, fossil excavation, story-driven sub-missions, rich technology and research trees, and deep Jurassic Park lore. On top of that, players can also take control of in-game events, such as tranquilizing triceratops, adding an interesting bit of agency to a genre that's often strictly point-and-click. 

You can pre-order Jurassic World: Evolution on Steam, as well as the PlayStation Store and Microsoft Store. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and info on the newest dino park simulator from Frontier Developments.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 Announced, First Gameplay Footage Shown Tue, 08 Aug 2017 08:54:40 -0400 Erroll Maas

At the Dragon Quest Summer Festival 2017 in Tokyo, Square Enix announced Dragon Quest Builders 2 for PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch, releasing previously unseen footage of the game.

The sequel to Square Enix's 2016 sandbox game set in the Dragon Quest universe, Dragon Quest Builders 2 will have a variety of new features and mechanics, such as providing the player with more stackable, slopes, the ability to swim underwater, filling structures with water, creating waterfalls, and gliding from high areas. The game will also support cooperative multiplayer for up to four people.

The first Dragon Quest Builders released for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and the Vita in Japan on January 28, 2016, and for the PlayStation 4 and Vita on October 11, 2016 in North America. The game received worldwide positive critical reception despite its lack of multiplayer features, while still being able to provide a distinct experience from similar games like Minecraft.

The release window for Dragon Quest Builders 2 is currently unknown at this time and a Western release of the game is yet to be announced.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Dragon Quest Builders 2 news and information as it develops. 

Creativerse Review: A Worthy Competitor to Minecraft Tue, 09 May 2017 11:47:10 -0400 ReverendShmitty

The landscape is familiar. I recognize the dirt and trees and water. They remind me of home. I walk further into the forest and spy several pigs trotting back and forth. I switch from my gauntlet to my stick and attack. To my surprise, the pigs squeal and fight back, ramming me with their tiny tusks.

I fight them off, pick up their loot bags, then continue on my way. I switch back to the gauntlet and begin mining. Fortunately, the gauntlet functions like a vacuum and sucks up the dirt and wood blocks so I don’t have to go pick them up on my own.

This was my first hour with Creativerse, a sandbox builder incredibly similar to Minecraft. And I mean that in the best way possible.

The feeling of wonder when you first drop into Creativerse and Minecraft is like being a child all over again. The map is so beautiful. You walk around, taking it all in, imagining what you might find. You have this big open world in front of you, and it's up to you to explore it and see what is has to offer.

After a lot of roaming, the sun begins to set and I look around for a large flat space to build a shelter. I don’t know if the nights are dangerous here, but years of experience have taught me to be cautious when carrying a fully loaded inventory.

I build a small 5x4 hovel of dirt and go through my crafting menu, checking recipes to see how difficult it would be to build a door. Suddenly, there’s a flash of blue light and I leave the menu just in time to watch the roaming pigs burst into cerulean flames and transform into demonic forms of themselves.

They charge at me, and I slam down dirt blocks to fill in the doorway just before they reach me.

Creativerse's Robust Gameplay

When you log on to Creativerse, you get to name and design your character. It’s no Elder Scrolls, mind; you only have a few options available, but it’s still a nice touch that makes it easier for casual players who don’t know how to upload skins in a game like Minecraft. You then build your world, which other players can potentially join, and you spawn in with nothing but your Power Cell, a gauntlet that can mine and vacuum up blocks.

The inclusion of the Power Cell simplifies gameplay by not immediately requiring players to craft tools to mine harder blocks like stone. Players also don't have to make a point to walk around and pick up dropped blocks they may have missed. This means players can have a weapon in their hand and still be able to place an item from the quickbar without having to swap, which inevitably saves time and lives.

The crafting is more complicated than Minecraft’s, with most builds taking at least three individual items to make, but you’re not left in the dark like early Minecraft. The Crafting menu lists blueprints for every item in the game and tells you exactly what you will need to make something. Hover over one of the components, and it will list where you can find or create it.

This makes for a much smoother creation experience that feels rewarding without being too complicated, though the required creation of related items, such as being forced to build a chair in order to make a bed is a bit tedious. Similarly, having to build Extractors to mine nodes is frustrating considering Extractors only last for a single use.

Continuing in the vein of Minecraft, your weapons and equipment can be improved through better materials. But rather than let you create any high-level items by having a lucky spawn in the beginning, the game requires you build the low-tier items first and work your way up. This was an odd touch in the beginning, but after a while, it really made progression more consistent.

The component lists also began to add parts dropped from more powerful creatures and enemies, meaning I had to prepare a well-balanced character in order to kill them. There was no way I could just focus on swords while ignoring armor and potions. In short, the game really pushes the need to be well-equipped and knowledgeable.

Combat is a straightforward hack n' slash affair, but the diversity of enemies, multiple tiers of weapons and armors, and powerful gadgets -- like grenades -- kept it interesting. Monster drops are incredibly important in Creativerse, and some of them have special abilities than can easily kill an unprepared player.

The powerful -- and prevalent -- enemies in the game forced me to focus especially carefully on having a truly safe shelter. My initial hovel was cramped and exposed, with enemies just outside the walls. As soon as the sun rose over the horizon, I was on the move for a good location.

In the end, I decided to build on the edge of a cliff to gain the high ground and have fewer sides the monsters could spawn and approach. I built my cabin out of strong wood and stone (no dirt to be found here), and surrounded it with stone walls. I found that monsters can leap two blocks high, so I made all of my defenses at least three tall.

With enemy jumping and random spawns, I put far more thought and effort into not just what I wanted my base to look like, but how well it would keep enemies out. This was night and day compared to my years with Minecraft, where I exclusively focused on aesthetics.

Graphics Make Creativerse Beautiful

Not that the builds in this game don’t look great, though. The textures and art style make even a simple cottage looked fantastic. With multiple types of walls, floors, roofs, doors, furniture, and other accessories, the types of buildings possible in this game are limited only by imagination. You can easily impress your Minecraft friends by showing them your house in Creativerse. It just looks fancier.

Fully maxed out on Fantastic settings in both 4k and 1080p, the game looks great. The active lighting has bloom and godrays that create an extra level of depth in the game and help bring it to life. Textures are vivid and pleasing; just the right amount of detail without alienating the cartoon art style.

The character models are fully realized and armor affects appearance wonderfully. Animals and monsters have fluid animations and small details that make them stand out. Miru’s multiple eyes have an eerie glow you can spot in the dark, Leafys’ oversized reptile eyes shine and reflect light, and Pigsies stretch slightly when they run and charge to show how chubby they are.

Combine these vivid characters with the beautiful biomes, and you have a game that is just lovely.

It’s nothing we haven’t seen before and it won’t win any awards. It’s not Naughty Dog, after all; these graphics are not photo-realistic. But the graphics flesh out the world and remind me of an animated film or television show. And when you compare to them to its most similar competitor, Minecraft, the game is downright gorgeous.

That said, the render distance goes only so far, leaving to a lot of pop-in in the distance. I’ve also had several experiences where blocks seemingly failed to visibly load, leaving me able to see straight through to the bottom of the world. This was easily fixed by interacting with the invisible blocks, but it was very jarring and left me worried I would fall through and become stuck.

Other than those few odd occurrences, the game runs great.

A friend of mine played the game on an old laptop running two GTX 650Ms in SLI, and he was still able to run it on "Good" settings, which is essentially Med-High as it's the middle of the three options, with a solid 60 frames a second.

Pro accounts are able to make more worlds and have more options in their world seeds, get free currency for the in-game store, and can sprint for twice as long. And unfortunately, incredibly useful items like the Glider and Flashlight are available exclusively to Pro players.

This is something I, as someone who is critical of Free-to-play games, hate to see, as it leaves great aspects of the game behind a paywall and punishes players who choose not to buy the pro membership.

They're by no means crucial, so the game still functions perfectly without them, but in a game that flaunts its diversity, it's a shame to see things taken away.

Overall, Creativerse is a beautiful game with a lot of depth.

If you can put in the time and effort to progress through the extensive -- and occasionally tedious -- crafting, you’ll be rewarded with a fulfilling experience of trial and growth. Some of its best aspects are restricted to Pro accounts only, but sandbox builder fans should look no further, because this free-to-play title is a great alternative to any other on the market.

The 7 Most Underrated Building Games on Steam Mon, 10 Apr 2017 08:00:01 -0400 Nick Lee

Steam has a unique opportunity to be one of the few places where builders can truly shine, as they are the most compatible on PC. Building games allow players to craft and create things no one would think possible, until it's there before you being shared on social media.

These games may not be on any bestseller lists, but they definitely should be given a chance.


Only released on March 29 of this year, Q.U.I.R.K. is a game focusing on both player cooperation, PvP, and building. Specialized weapons and fun combos allowed players to team up but the building capacity is on its' way to growth. Devs of the game are currently working within the boundaries of Steam to provide a full user generated content (UGC) system. The devs had this to say as to the updates and improvements to the new game:

The philosophy behind our development process is rooted in the collection of feedback from our users, and the rapid introduction of ideas that serve to make the gaming experience better.

In the meantime, players can still submit UGC in the form of death match arenas. This will certainly be a game to watch as active devs means an ever changing game reflective of what the players want.


Sheltered, cover, art, logo

Released March 15 2016, Sheltered is a survival management and building game in which the player must protect four family members post-apocalypse. The game is more versatile than it initially appears as customization and changing hazards can always affect the game. Sheltered certainly doesn't get its credit when it comes to theses aspects and the simplistic graphics could be included in the reasoning why.

Created by Unicube and Team 17 Digital, the game doesn't receive as many updates since launch, but was started via kickstarter so has some added sweat and tears into development that are worth noting in the dynamic nature of game play.

FortressCraft Evolved!

For a game based on a best-selling indie game, FortressCraft Evolved! didn't get the same level of fame that it deserved. Released November 9 2015, the game blends elements of a various building games into an absurd amalgamation. Steam user wmcferren reviewed the game as:

This game is MineCrack Cocaine. If you like Minecraft, use caution. You'll be googling nearly unsolvable questions regarding highly automated infrastructure in about 40 hours. Then you'll be sleepless, hating you life in about 80.Then your friends will genuinely be concerned about you when you show them the sprawling mining facility you've created


Another indie space game, Planetbase, strays away from the too fantastical and gives us one of the best space building games on Steam. Resources are used to survive various planet types to which you can build from a small mission to a bustling colony. What the games lacks in traditional storylines are made up for by the immersive nature of the game that is unparalleled.

Developed by Madruga Works, Planetbase was released in fall 2015 but has been given credit in its' own right but not enough in the scale of builders that it should have.

Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville

The apocalypse is usually taken from the point of view of the survivor in gaming but Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville focuses on rebuilding a community from the ashes of what was. As it was published and developed by Northway Games, the game provides a fun take with zombies random events, fending off rivals and gives players an overall fun experience that is easily understood.

Rebuild 3 is one of the few games in which helpful information is consistently given while not being cumbersome to grasp. The game was released in 2015, and has received overall positive reviews but seems to fly under the radar while its level of detail and ability to addict us to playing are palpable.

Evil Genius

It's no secret that getting to play the bad guys can be so good if done right and Evil Genius achieves just that. In this builder, players select from three different geniuses and plots out world domination. Players manage a variety of traps, items and minions while they progress through the game making for a fun combination per each play through.

Though released in 2004, a lack of a sequel could honestly be the only thing holding this game down from achieving a better spotlight. Further, if players were given updated graphics and options the reviews would be just as great for the game if not even better. If there were to be a new game following the evil steps left by the quirky villains, it would have little to change from the original format and options anyhow.

Block N Load

Comparable to Team Fortress 2, Block N Load capitalizes on the FPS aspect of team gameplay while incorporating the elements of being a builder game. While currently free-to-play, the prospect of paying for this game wouldn't likely have hurt the game's popularity or reviews. Released on April 30 2015, the game allows players to have a fun time with uniqueness in every match up.

Utilizing five on five matches, Block N Load never feels as if aspects are missing as you're getting exactly what you'd expect from the game. Though each match incorporates players building, entire arenas can even be crafted for play as well as a build phase allowing players to adjust to the mix. How a game as fun as this isn't more highly rated and popular could only be due to the age and general lack of publicity for it.


Building games have become increasingly consolidated to the big and obvious powerhouses of this gaming niche such as Civilization, The Sims and Minecraft. The introduction of indie developers incorporating the elements that made these games successful while also encouraging different takes on the usual game play and ideas keeps these builders refreshing and fun.

For their future I hope more players will value the games regardless of graphics as the games here range in age and graphics but all allow players to customize their experience in some aspect. This is essential to building games as it allows us to imagine even more with a clean slate and a lot to build.

Creativerse goes Pro...and they are killing it with the new features Tue, 09 Aug 2016 17:29:15 -0400 Jenifyr Kaiser

Playful Corp. released R33 for Creativerse this week and with it came the Pro version and the "Machines" update! The new Pro version is an optional purchase for players wanting to get a little more out of the game. It includes several exclusive improvements including a host of new world modifiers, double the stamina, extra inventory slots, and -- my favorite -- the glider!

The new world modifiers allow you to customize your worlds with fun stuff like low gravity and a new sci-fi themed sky box. This felt fantastic to me since the world really does feel alien anyway. The two moons/planets hanging in the sky really give it that extra touch. The low gravity is a great addition, too. It makes climbing mountains much easier, and I can finally reach that not-so-low hanging fruit (A.K.A. beehives and flowers). Clearly, they know that being short sucks. 

The glider is just more fun than anyone should be allowed to have in a game. There is a boost mode that, if used properly, can carry you a pretty long distance. One fan has already managed to glide around the entire border of his world in one flight! It's amazing and really lets you see the beauty of the world below. It's also great for scouting resources and spots to build the perfect house.

On the downside of this, only Pro members will have access to the new features. Free-to-play players are receiving a bit of a downgrade. They will only be able to create one world and won't have as many world modifiers to choose from.

On the upside, if you happened to have purchased the game before it went free-to-play, or if you ever purchased coins from their online store, you will be upgraded to Pro automatically. That is a nice touch from the developer and shows their dedication to the fans.

To take some of the sting out of the changes to the free-to-play model, Playful Corp. has also released a huge new update to Creativerse that is free for everyone. They call it the "Machines" update and it incorporates switches, wiring, and electricity.

One of the main complaints about the game was the lack of anything comparable to Minecraft's redstone mechanics. This new release is the first big step toward rectifying that. 

I haven't delved too deeply into the "Machines" update yet, but from what I can tell the mechanics of it are very simple and easy to understand. There are plenty of video tutorials available, so I won't go into the instructions here. Suffice it to say that the changes add a new level of depth and possibility to the game. 

Creativerse is the next evolution of voxel building games and Playful Corp ups their game with each new update. The game is, ostensibly, still a work in progress, but you would never know it. It is so polished and well done it's even hard to believe it came from a small indie studio.

There are a handful of games that have earned a permanent place on my hard drive. Creativerse is definitely on that list. Now if you will excuse me, I have places to fly and machines to build. To the Batglider! 

Why is Creativerse so much better than Minecraft? Wed, 06 Jul 2016 11:31:51 -0400 Jenifyr Kaiser

Minecraft did it first, so why is Creativerse doing it better?

Creativerse is a polygon based builder just like Minecraft. As a player, you can build anything you want, fight off baddies, grow crops, and explore nearly bottomless caves, just like you can in Minecraft. But Creativerse has so much more going for it. Lets take a look at some of the main reasons why.


Creativerse is beautiful to look at. Yes, Minecraft has a certain pixellated charm to it, but once you get over that it really is just ugly. You can modify Minecraft with new texture packs, and that helps a lot. But the problem is that every time a new patch comes out, I have to go download and reinstall my texture packs. That is very annoying. I'd rather have the pretty graphics built right in.


Just in terms of the sheer number and types of blocks you can find or create, Creativerse beats Minecraft hands down. Do you like stone buildings, but don't want the same old grey stone? No problem -- there are at least 5 different types of base stone to build with, not to mention the different types that can be made with the various crafting stations and bought in the online game store. That's true for almost all block types in the game.

But wait, there's more. With the ability to rotate blocks, you can create an almost infinite number of combinations, giving your creations a truly unique flair. 


Hands down one of the best features is teleporters. You can plop one by your front door and one at the bottom of that enormously deep cavern that you've been exploring for the last three hours. Now you don't have to start over at the top and work your way down to where you left off, you just pop through the teleporter. It makes mining a cinch! 

Adorable creatures

The creatures in Creativerse are just adorable. Seriously, how can you not love this little Leafie? Most of them are non-aggressive until nighttime, when they take on an eerie blue glow and try to kill you a lot. Their evil cousins seem to spawn in dark places like caves as well, so you have to watch your back while digging for all those awesome blocks. Each biome also has its own type of creatures, some a little meaner than others. Watch out for the Trogs, yikes!


My absolute favorite thing about Creativerse is that the developers are still very active. They are still creating new biomes and block types all the time. This is to be expected, since the game is still in Early Access on Steam, but I get a sense that these developers will never just drop the game and walk away. Maybe I'm wrong, but I do know another game whose developer did walk away...and then sold out to Microsoft. I'm just saying.

If you are a fan of building games, this one is definitely worth trying. Check out Creativerse on the official website and get ready for some awesome building action.

Coral Isle has one of the deepest systems I've ever seen in a Flash game. Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:16:21 -0500 billd75

It is not often, I get to see this kind of depth as far as inventory, questing, gifting, farming, feeding, helping and building goes in a Flash/Browser based Facebook game. As far as "Builder" style games go, Coral Isle has a very rich, interesting and complex system underneath it's relatively simple facade. You may need to even get a guide online or join some Facebook Groups to help because there are a lot of tips and tricks to mastering this island! Well, four islands actually. The Crash Site, Wolf Island and Icey Mountain were the first three. Now there is a new land just added called The Highlands.


My wife was the one that initially discovered the game on Facebook and it has a lot of promise by the looks of things. The graphics are pretty standard for a quality Facebook Flash game, although the objects and environments in this game are very highly detailed and beautifully fleshed out. The artwork is shaded well and gives good realism.

The developers, a company called QuartSoft have definately exploited all they can from Adobe Flash. The sunflowers really look like sunflowers and tomato's look like tomatoes, so the detail is definately there. That is not what is most impressive about this game though. It's the gameplay itself.

What starts out as a simple enough builder game in the beginning and a seemingly vanilla cookie cutter game, eventually turns into a game that goes much, much further. It takes time and patience to progress because they don't just hand you everything. You have to grind and grind to progress and it helps to have lots and lots of neighbors. That said though, the amount of inventory, work, quests, gifts, crafting, secrets and just "stuff to do" is simply staggering!  

You'll need, as I mentioned lots of neighbors as this game has a heavy social help aspect to it and their are lots and lots of items to collect and things to make, with those items. To do it all with just a couple of neighbors is too hard and you will hate the game as a result because of very slow progress. This game has a lot of inventory to collect for different quests, so neighbors help tremondously in that aspect. If you don't have neighbors, you are sunk and will quit. I've seen it happen.

Don't worry though about not having many neighbors. There are Facebook "Add Me" type pages out there where other people looking for neighbours also go, to find more neighbors. Try to get a good mix of high, middle and low level neighbors, as different items will be available from each sometimes. Higher and middle level players are a must however due to more variety of items available on their islands. 

The Story

You start out as one character (named Boy) stranded on deserted island and you quickly discover there is a girl who you found knocked out on the beach, who is called, you guessed it, Girl. Then there is Grandma. All three starting characters can all be given invidual tasks. From chopping wood to gathering stone to cooking, it gets to be a very busy island.

Remember I said that the game was deep and complex? How's 69 pages of possible dishes to cook for the survivors strike you?! How does that kind of inventory depth in other buildings strike you? Oh how I love a broad range of choices and this game has got a ton of choice. Many of those item choices/creations have a purpose in the game too. If not now, then later.

Other characters also follow to add to the staggering amount of work that needs to be done to survive: A Stewardess, a Soldier and a Nerd, (all from the plane crash that put you on this Island), in addition to a Native from the Island. The game loses a point for it's lack of name originality, but it is original and good in so many other ways, I pay it little mind. 


What makes the game interesting more so than other builders, is the crafting aspect. Most quest objects require multiple parts and finding them can be rather unique. Especially when visiting neighbors. Depending on what buildings you choose to harvest while visiting neighbors, you have chances to get special items that you either need, or are part of collection or quest. Similar to old Cityville's or Farmville's collections that you can get. 

Examples of this would be if you needed Energy. You would go to your neighbours Pottery building (if they have one), to get Chocolate Bars which are worth 2 Energy each. Another much better example would be, let's say you need Rope or Water, then you would visit your neighbour's Lighthouse. If you don't get special loot from a building that offers what you are looking for, then you get Friendium, the standard loot when visiting neighbors. It is also useful in the game and we will get to that later. 

Most items on the map are moveable which makes for a nice level of customization. The flexibility in this game is quite decent. You can even spell out your name (or name the island or whatever) in wood letters and diamond decorations behind them. Same can be done with torches and it makes for a cool effect. I asked my wife to be my Valentine on my Isle, thank's to another user's idea. She loved it! 

WARNING TIP!!! If you decide to play this game do not cut down all your food or material producing trees! You need that stuff and if you cut it all down, you cannot progress and have basically broken the game. Not unless you buy some trees to replace them and they are not cheap.

What goes into a good quality Facebook Flash builder-type game is a ton of work. The database management system in this game, is truly something of excellence and worth mentioning because it is at the very core of what makes this game great. It keeps track of many things at once and never loses track. It is large and broad. Another good example of this ambitious style of game development would be the fact that they actually have a trading system built in too and even achievements! It is quite something for being a simple Facebook game. 

The trading system is where the Friendium I mentioned earlier comes in. If you join a Facebook group called Coral Isle Help Group, The Adventure Continues, then you can spend Friendium on things you or your neighbors need by posting your trade offers on that page and also friend requests for more neighbors etc. In turn, they spend their Friendium on what you need. A unique aspect that I think brings a different sort of social aspect to the game. There are many pages dedicated to this game, so help is not far away.


All in all, it is an unique Facebook builder-style game and certainly worth a look. Especially if you are a fan of this style of game, but want something a little different and more challenging. This game is not just a builder/farmer game but survival too. In closing I think no Facebook game review would be complete (not mine anyway.) without mentioning the progression/payment aspect.

The game does offer "pearls" that you can buy with real money to make in-game purchases, but it is not necessary, as it a free game and is not a "pay to win" type game. You can progress fine without paying too, and you can still get pearls for free from some quests and achievements you will just have to work harder and wait. If you visit and have a lot of neighbors you can literally play for hours on end by hitting Potteries for energy.

So, try it out and don't give up on it right away thinking it is just another boring builder. Some people make that mistake with this game because it is tough and slow in the beginning due to the typical grind. Once you level up some, though it's anything but boring. There is a lot to do. A whole lot! It just keeps opening up and getting bigger and more interesting.

Update: Still loving this Facebook game and still playing it heavily. One of the best builder/sim games on Facebook. The engine has just been updated, it is smoother and more intuitive than ever. These are developers that care about their game because it shows in the the updates and workings of the game. The engine is second to none.