iPad Game Review: Deepworld For iPad2 or better (internet connection required)
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Deepworld is a 2D sandbox-style building game in the spirit of Minecraft. The play areas are persistent online multiplayer worlds that emphasize social gaming.
Deepworld is a refreshingly open-ended, unscripted sandbox game of resource collection, treasure hunting, building, crafting, and survival. An important point that cannot be over-emphasized is the fact that this is an online-only game. As such, it requires a persistent internet connection to play, so keep this in mind before you throw any money at it (more on this later). Another important caveat is the complete lack of a solo mode without a significant investment (again, more on this later). If, however, you find yourself in that group of gamers that has ready access to the internet AND enjoys social online games, you're most likely going to enjoy Deepworld.
After fumbling your way through the somewhat rough-around-the-edges tutorial, you will be mining and crafting in no time, which is really the core gameplay of Deepworld. Yes, there are mobs and monsters to contend with, and other players to interact with, but a game like this is all about the treasure hunting and the building, and Deepworld doesn't disappoint. There are literally hundreds of objects to craft and enough building to keep you busy for a very long time. Unfortunately, Deepworld has a few snags; some of these can be fixed with a patch but some of them are related to its core gameplay. Because Deepworld is also an RPG of sorts, you must level your character in order to access the more interesting areas and items.
Leveling your character, though, is not a straightforward process. In order to progress, you must conquer the game's achievements. Some of these will flash across the screen when you begin the game, but there is no way to see them again without exiting the game and visiting the developer's forum via browser or launching Apple's Game Center. A fix is promised, however, so this oversight is certainly no dealbreaker. The larger problem with Deepworld centers around its inescapable multiplayer component. Everything you build is completely accessible to any player who wanders by, and while there doesn't seem to be rampant griefing in Deepworld, the fact that it's free to play means that there will be LOTs of people wandering by. Investing in the Premium Upgrade helps a great deal because premium players can access worlds that non-premium players cannot (these are flagged "red" rather than "yellow" on the world map). This cuts down on a lot of foot traffic. Additionally, the Premium Upgrade also comes with enough in-game currency to purchase a couple of Protectors to guard your domicile. This creates a new potential problem, however, of premium worlds being clogged with large swaths of inaccessible area. The ultimate solution to this is to buy enough currency to purchase a private world (roughly $10) where nobody can disturb you. Of course, this begs the question of: "why can't I just play this game offline on my device and achieve the same thing for free?"
Deepworld's graphics are 2D (think: platformer), but they are nicely animated and beautifully lit. The terrain is varied and interesting, but I found myself often confused by what was background and what was barrier/hard surface. This resulted in a few rapid descents to the lower regions as I stepped off into nothing, as well as a few virtual bloody noses as I walked into a wall.
The sound effects are simple and mostly subtle (although, I learned to hate the chime announcing that another player was using the chat feature). Everything is nicely sampled, though, which gives Deepworld some of its polish.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Deepworld uses Crowns as its in-game currency. Unlocking the premium content (currently $3) will also give you 100 Crowns, which is a pretty good deal compared to the other IAPs. As I stated earlier, about $10 worth of Crowns will allow you to purchase a private world, which would significantly affect gameplay. Beyond that, though, the IAPs feel completely optional. Deepworld isn't one of those games that will continue to reach into your pocket as you play.
If you like open-world sandbox games, have ready access to the internet, and like being social as you play, Deepworld will hit the spot for you. If you're a solo or offline player, you're probably going to be better off with another game. The initial download is free, though, so if you're on the fence you've got nothing to lose by putting it through its paces.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Clean and crisp 2D graphics. Sound: - 3.5 - The sound effects are simple but well-done. Controls: - 3 - Maneuvering with your jetpack will take practice. It could use a second control scheme Gameplay: - 4 - The gameplay is great, if online multiplayer is your thing. Those who prefer offline or solo games are unlikely to agree, however.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Stay away from the green drops; it's acid rain and will cost you health. Regain health by crafting food and eating it. Attack monsters to kill them. You can use your pickaxe or craft a real weapon. The portal that allows you to select a different world can be found at your initial spawn point; tap on it. If you purchased the Premium Upgrade, select a red-flagged premium world. Once you find a good place to start building, deploy protectors (50 Crowns apiece) to prevent other players from destroying it or moving-in.