Creativerse Review: A Worthy Competitor to Minecraft
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.
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.