You know, I’m not normally a fan of rehashed clone games. The fact is that any gamer who has spent more than a dozen hours online knows that feeling when he or she sees yet another game that uses mechanics or designs that we’ve all seen a hundred times before. So, when I stumbled across Survivalcraft, an obvious clone of Minecraft: Pocket Edition, I was hesitant. I’ve also learned that a game can look like another yet be its very own creation, so I bought it and started the download. In the notes about the game, the developer literally gives credit to Minecraft and asks players to purchase it, so that gave me more confidence. After all, I’ve read a lot of player-written stories that are based in official lore or viewed wonderful fan art, all of it based on somebody else’s creation.
Survivalcraft is pretty much exactly like Minecraft PE, but for a few key differences. First, the game is set in a world that, as far as I know, cannot be played through with a “creative” or “god” mode that provides endless goods. The Survivalcraft world is dark, dangerous and often scary. In fact it reminds me of how I felt when I first played Minecraft and heard a creeper for the first time. It was thrilling, and Survivalcraft is attempting to recreate that feeling by immersing the player in a forced hardcore world.
Second, the game offers things that I cannot remember seeing in the original Minecraft. There is lightning, polar bears and nicer water and lighting effects... things that are generally missing from vanilla Minecraft. The sunset and moonrise are beautiful, but I do miss the music of the original.
The idea is to survive as long as possible, carving out a living area and mining for goods while trying to avoid death by wolf or other monster. It’s a great idea to create a world in which players are forced to survive in a pretty unique Minecraft creation, especially on mobile. I wonder if more official Minecraft mobile features will eventually make a game like Survivorcraft obsolete, though. One of the issues with a mobile version of Minecraft like this one is that the graphics can often be a bit glitchy or not very useful. I have them turned up to max on my Nexus 7 tablet, but even then the draw distance was so short that I found myself completely lost. Yes, yes... I know: that’s the point of Minecraft. I’m just noting that the limitations of current mobile devices might make the game frustrating more often than not. Luckily players can build giant arrows or towers pointing them to the right area. Remind me to get on that... I keep getting lost.
Once I got established in a cozy nook of the world, I really enjoyed jumping out during the daytime to gather items. I found the easiest thing to do was to create walls of glass so I can see when it is safe to run out. After that, making a stack of torches came in very handy so I could mine at night. It’s a trade-off: you mine at night, run around and explore during the day. Even then, wolves will be out and about and lightning can cause damage as well, so the perils are constant. Dying was a bit annoying but no more so than in vanilla Minecraft, so I was left hoping for a tougher death “penalty.” After all, this is Survivalcraft, not Oops-you-died-and-dropped-some-crapcraft.
So, is Survivalcraft worth the few dollars you’ll have to pay to download? Of course. Is it that much different than Minecraft: PE to warrant the purchase? Yes, for now. The PC verion of Minecraft already offers hundreds of mods, many of them that act like Surivalcraft on steroids, but this mobile take on Minecraft is a blast most of the time.
Just watch out for polar bears. I currently have one living on my roof!