iPad Game Review: Survivalcraft (Universal) Review
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Survivalcraft is a block world survival game, similar to Minecraft. In it, you will traverse an open and endless world, mining, building, crafting, and fighting its denizens.
Before I write any review, I always peruse the customer reviews on the App Store. Generally, I don't get much out of this ritual except for a few bugs to try to replicate or possibly a cool feature or strategy that I didn't catch. However, when I read the reviews for Survivalcraft, I was struck by how polarized they are. On the one hand, there are thousands of 5-star reviews from happy players, but for every 5-10 of these, you will find a 1-star review from a Minecraft loyalist who feels that the developer of Survivalcraft has stolen his game from Mojang, the developer of Minecraft. This gave me an inescapable feeling of Deja vu. Back in the nineties, I was blown-away by a new strategy game called Command and Conquer. Instead of moving your pieces one turn at-a-time, everything happened in real time. This was revolutionary. Within a year, variations on Command and Conquer began showing up in game stores. Of course, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth from players who felt that these games were posers and upstarts, and had simply stolen everything that was good about Command and Conquer and crammed it into their game. Something began happening, however, that nobody expected; some of these games actually improved on the original. They added unit upgrades, made interface improvements, dreamed up new features, added multiplayer, etc. This was very confusing for the staunch defenders of Command and Conquer as they very much wanted to have these features but they didn't want to pander to the copycats. Fortunately, the sequel to Command and Conquer was released shortly thereafter, and it had all or most of those highly coveted features. And so the great Real Time Strategy Arms Race of the nineties began, and a genre was born.
Survivalcraft is a block world building/crafting/survival game in the style of Minecraft PE that has actually succeeded at making a better product than the original. Everything you would expect is here; mining, building, crafting, surviving, multiple game modes, etc. However, Survivalcraft seeks to set itself apart in some subtle and not so subtle ways; all of which add up to a fantastic mining/building/surviving experience. This game is on its 21st version (it's been around since 2011 on other mobile platforms), and has most recently added horseback riding, leather, water-based predators, and community content such as texture packs and shared worlds. The interface is clean, and Survivalcraft does a great job of making the most of a purely touch-based interface. The thing I enjoy the most about Survivalcraft, however, is the enormity of the game world. In fact, enormous doesn't go far enough to describe what is likely an infinite, continually generated world. Strip-mined your particular island down to the bedrock? No need to start over with a new world, just pull up your tent stakes and head out into the wilderness where you can start fresh without walking away forever from your previous creations.
While Survivalcraft is currently the most enjoyable mobile block survival game available at this moment, it can in no way compete with the full PC/Mac version of Minecraft as there is no multiplayer of any kind. Whether you're a Minecraft loyalist or not, there are big advantages to having multiple developers vying for your gaming dollar, however. With any luck, competition will result in more features (multiplayer, please!) and better support for their products, which is a win-win for us gamers no matter how you feel about clones.
The graphics of Survivalcraft are about what you'd expect from a block world survival game: blocky. However, the textures are varied, clean, and colorful, and it runs like a greyhound on every device I tested.
The sound effects are pretty simple and there is no in-game music. Further, Survivalcraft will gently press its bootheel against the throat of your device's music player if you try to listen to your own library while you play.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Survivalcraft currently offers no IAPs of any kind.
If you like Block World Survival Games, and you have an open mind about borrowing heavily from those who came before, you're likely going to really enjoy Survivalcraft. The massive world coupled with some truly innovative features has earned this game a permanent place on my iPad.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - It's just a block world, but it's colorful and varied. Sound: - 2 - simple sound effects and no music Controls: - 5 - As good a control scheme as you're likely to get without plugging in a mouse. Gameplay: - 4.5 - The best mobile experience for this genre, but like its competitors, no multiplayer yet.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Don't forget to use the leaves of trees to craft new saplings BEFORE you cut all the trees down or face the same fate as the dwellers of Easter Island. Don't leave your shelter at night! Devise some sort of marker system to avoid getting lost (a vertical stack of blocks is good for this).