Survivalcraft : less survival, more mining

Survivalcraft Windows Phone

Survivalcraft Windows Phone

Survivalcraft Windows Phone

I’m never sure how to tackle this sort of game. Survivalcraft is an unashamed Minecraft clone – its name and graphics a sure enough sign if the gameplay itself wasn’t. As regular readers will know, I’m not hugely enamoured with clones. At the same time, it’s the clone of a wildly popular game that is not available on Windows Phone 7 – in other words, it’s filling a gap in the market which many consumers have been looking to fill, so I have some appreciation for the developer’s decision to fill that gap in the market.

It’s also, to be fair to Candy Rufus Games, not the easiest of titles to clone: Minecraft is a vast, sprawling exercise in procedural generation and freedom, and to successfully clone it would take an awful lot of work. As such, I’m willing to give the game the benefit of the doubt, and judge it on its own merits rather than simply condemning it for being a clone.

A shame, then, that at the moment those merits are a little thin on the ground.

The good news first: this is a fairly impressive-looking game. Minecraft may not be a particularly beautiful game, but it’s rare that we get to explore vast 3D expanses on our smartphones, and for this alone Survivalcraft is worth a look. The framerate isn’t brilliant, but it’s certainly passable, and exploring the hills and valleys of your newly generated land is a pleasant enough way to while away the time.

Or at least it would be, were the controls a little less iffy. Movement is handled with a virtual stick drawn from the bottom-left corner, facing from the bottom-right. These both work well enough – the lack of a need for immediate reactions in the game means that the usual problems facing virtual twin-stick designs are much lessened. Pressing and holding on an object in the world causes your character to dig away at it, enabling you to tunnel your way through the world and collect crafting ingredients, as with Minecraft – again, this works fine. As does tapping in the world to place or use an object.

The problem comes with jumping. In a world filled with mountains and no smooth ‘ramps’ to move along, vast amounts of jumping are required to traverse even short distances. And how do you jump? By tapping either of the twin-stick buttons. Which the game usually interprets as you wanting to move or look around slightly, rather than actually jump. This could be solved by something so simple having a larger deadzone for the sticks, or using a gesture to jump (an upwards swipe on the left or right of the screen, perhaps?), but as it stands it makes every step a chore – and you can forget about jumping across gaps with any reliability.

There are some issues with the crafting interface too (with the game’s reliance on held taps to place individual items making it a laborious process), but that’s drastically overshadowed by the crafting itself. It’s simply unfinished. Distinctly unfinished. You can craft planks, and a crafting table, and an axe. But not a pick-axe. Or torches. Or even a door. The game is currently littered with objects that serve no purpose (hello, coal),* and without the possibility for doors doesn’t even give you the opportunity to create a safe haven.

Which makes the lack of any monsters a relief. There are no threats in this game, which suits the limited crafting options and the clunky controls – and, to be fair, me (I prefer my games of Minecraft to be devoid of threat, leaving me to happily mine and, er, craft) – but will be quite the disappointment for any players wanting a bit of tension in their game. There’s also the problem that, as there are no animals yet in the game, there are no sources of food, which means that any fall damage can’t be healed. Which, combined with the awful jumping controls, does mean that death by misadventure is a fairly common occurrence.

Quite simply, the game is unfinished. The developer admits as much, and is apparently working on fixing the jump controls and expanding the crafting options, before adding in monsters. Which is fair enough – Minecraft has only just come out of beta itself, after all – except for the fact that he is already selling the game despite it being utterly, utterly unfinished, and the fact that the game description makes no mention of this. And the free trial? Being limited to a few scant minutes means that the average player will not have the chance to realise how unfinished the game is before giving out their money.

Survivalcraft may one day grow into something worthwhile. Right now, however, it comes across as a terribly underdeveloped game trying to cash in on the success of a wildly inventive original. Prospective buyers hold off and wait to see whether the developer really does deliver on his promises to improve the game. And who knows, perhaps Mojang will port the original Minecraft across themselves. As it stands, Survivalcraft is simply not worth the £1.49 asking price.

*CORRECTION: both the developer and one of the commentators below informed me that coal does in fact have a purpose – while torches were not implemented in the version of Survivalcraft reviewed, lanterns can be created using it. My apologies for the error.

Survivalcraft Gameplay Video

Survivalcraft Screenshots

Version Under Review : 1.0.0.0

There is a time-limited trial version available and the full version is available for $1.99.

Our Rating for Survivalcraft

Rating


Scan this QRcode with Bing vision ( Hit the hardware Search button and click on the small icon that looks like an eye ) on your Phone to download the App to your phone.

Price : $1.99
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  • http://www.facebook.com/LiveOnEvil Jonathan Desjardins

    The game has gotten new updates recently. At which point the game is highly recommendable.

  • Jackson

    Check it out now that it is a million times better

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  • Sean jhon

    This game is perfect now. I it even has pick axes and fire. The reviewer here sucks so bad…….. Wait this is a Windows forum……. Eeeeeeewwwwwwwww. Get a real phone.

  • Brain

    survivalcraft is better than mnecraft pe! it has more stuff than pe. If you got to know it, you would play it more than pe. So shut up about survivalcraft being a shameful clone of minecraft.

    • Game Core Productions

      Lol it has more stuff then PE cause unlike PE they make sure EVERYTHING is finished before releasing what they have in store! And ontop of that they only have four people working on PE, FOUR! Where as SC has an entire team!

  • lolman

    Lol, jumping? Double tap the look button, or press the middle button of the left joystick but I’ll stop, so its easier if u just press the look button while running.

    Plus theres always auto jump, which can at times be unreliable.

    Research and experiment the controls before u go talking crap about a game, its amazing.

  • reebs

    Its also absolutely essential to note that this game is still in its alpha develpment stage, with the developer heavily relying on community feedback for what new features will be implemented in the game. this unprecedented connection between creator and consumer is what makes the game so special, and cannot be overlooked when reviewing the game.

    As games become more complicated, and the entire experiencemore profound, game reviews will need to eveolve as well. It will not do, now or in the future, to simply systematically go step by step through graphics, controls, etc… thats boring anyway.

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  • CrisRowlands

    Definitely wanna get this :D looks awesome! [Posted from the 1800PocketPC app]

  • anteater80

    The Alpha 1.1 version is now out:
    * Torches
    * Iron
    * More crafting options
    * Longer trial

    I’ve already spent hours digging and building, well worth the price of a cup of coffee.

  • Mohse20051

    persian [Posted from the 1800PocketPC app]

  • IM0001

    Ouch! Harsh review for a game the devs worked 7 months on and Just released at the end of last week. If you visit the dev’s Blog, you will see that he does realize the time limit, jumping, and many other things needed tweeting and more content added, and his next update should bring the game up significantly to fun playable levels. For a .1 version alpha game of sorts, it still looks and plays similar if not better to Minecraft Pocket.

    Also coal does have a use in the game already. 1 Coal + 1 Plank = Lantern.

    • wiper

      I did take a look at the blog (as I mention in the text; I wasn’t just guessing that the developer was discussing fixing the jump problem and adding in torches), but it can’t really change my core issue with the game – that it’s charging too much for what is currently too little. I appreciate that he’s spent a good few months working on it, but I can’t rate a game up just because time has been spent on it – as a reviewer, my job is to write for and advise the consumer, not to act as an apologist for the developer!

      A fair point re: the lanterns, though – the developer has since got in contact with us to let me know about that too; I saw his blog post about torches not yet being enabled, but didn’t realise that lanterns had already been put in. That error’s on me.

      Nevertheless, I still hold that as a particularly unfinished Minecraft clone, this is a little too unpolished to go on sale. Were it free, an equivalent to Minecraft Classic, serving as prep for a slightly more polished beta that was to come then I would have been kinder to it, and it’s quite possible that with a few more updates this will be a worthy title. But as of right now? I can’t really recommend it.

      • Duck

        would you think of taking a second look at it now that he has improved it greatly?

        He even has mobs now.

        take a look at the changes at his website: http://kaalus.wordpress.com/

        He really works hard at it.

  • Justin

    It is released. I’ve had a crappy day. Today Minecraft came out for the iPod and iPhone. And today I just dropped my iPod and cracked the screen. Then I found this. Anyways… It’s out.

  • ticomfreak

    kick ass!