The opening sequence brings out the best of Subnautica and the Ultimate Cookie Clicker

If there’s a way to claim the survival/crafting genre and inject it directly into my blood, I’ll do it. There’s something about punching trees and turning useless junk into useful tools that really gets my engine going. I’ve never been much involved in base building, so I prefer exploration-focused games like The Forest and Raft over creativity-focused games like Minecraft and Valheim. Planet Crafter: Prologue, which launched on Steam last month, is my latest survival/crafting obsession. It combines the exploration of Subnautica with the super addictive development of an idle game in a way that feels customized to ruin my life. I’m glad the prologue is a limited sample of what The Planet Crafter has to offer, because if it hadn’t cut me off after a few hours I probably wouldn’t have been able to.

At first glance, The Planet Crafter doesn’t look like much. The first 30 to 40 minutes start off like Subnautica or Breathedge – you can leave the shell and gather resources in the vicinity, but you’re limited to a short range as you only have a few seconds of oxygen before having to run again. back into the shell. Sometimes you’ll need to spend some time collecting the cobalt, iron, titanium, and silicone that are scattered rather irregularly around your case until you can craft the upgrades needed to progress further, like a Larger backpack, oxygen tank, water bottle and a flashlight.

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The Planet Crafter’s goal wasn’t immediately obvious. After doing the first few upgrades, the quest log will disappear and you’ll be left to figure out on your own where to go and what to do. I find myself building anything for which I have the resources available just to figure out what it’s supposed to do. After building a drill and a wind turbine, followed by reading a series of information screens in my shell, I finally realized The Planet Crafter’s goal: to turn a desolate planet into a world lively.

To do that, there are three categories of development to pursue: pressure, heat, and oxygen. Pressure is created by drilling into the ground, heat is created by building heaters, and oxygen is generated by growing planets. Setting up the drills is simple enough, but they come with an energy cost – hence the wind turbines.

The heater requires iridium, which you won’t be able to find near your starter pool. The same goes for vegetative plants, which need seeds in order to grow the plant’s life. To continue the terrain generation process, you’ll need to venture to different impact sites around the planet and rip them apart for materials. With the right resources, you can build bigger and better drills, heaters, and vegetation to continuously accelerate terrain generation.

Planet Crafter has absolutely no regard for the aesthetics or organization of your terrain generator. You can put a drill down anywhere on the ground and it will instantly increase your pressure output by 0.02/s. If the electricity runs out, you can build a wind turbine or a solar panel anywhere in the world and draw a diagram. No wires to run or connections to perform. Whatever you build contributes to the entire system no matter where you build it.

It seems too simple, but that effect allows you to explore and adventure more. At least in the opening, there’s no reason to drop roots and build a main hub anywhere. Just grab valuable resources, build your machines right where you are, then move on to the next point of interest. Survival/crafting games tend to get bogged down by resource gathering and complex systems, especially when you’re expending a lot of energy on base building, but The Planet Crafter knows how to keep it going. everything works.

planet maker 2

The three branches of the terrain are supported by individual progressions that automatically unlock new blueprints as you increase pressure, heat, and oxygen. The first heater only generates 0.3 heat per second, but the upgraded heater produces 4.5. Both heaters use the rare resource iridium, so if you want to maximize output you’ll need to go back to the old facilities, deconstruct your outdated machines, and build new ones. new in their place.

As long as you have enough solar panels to keep the system running, your machines will work automatically, continuously progressing to the next terrain creation goal and unlocking blueprints. With all three in play, The Planet Crafter has an idle game quality that I really dig into. Using your resources to craft the highest quality machines makes your numbers grow faster, and every blueprint you unlock has the potential to increase output exponentially. Sometimes I find myself staring at my Terraformation screen just to watch the numbers add up. It’s like Subnautica and Cookie Clicker had a baby, and I can’t get enough of it.

The world is, as you might expect, a rather desolate wasteland, but with some surprises and fun to see. Your main focus when exploring the world is just crashed spaceships filled with rare resources, but you’ll also find some rare materials that grow naturally in special places on the planet. . There are also weather phenomena that will shock and surprise you, especially if you are far from shelter when they occur.

The prologue ends when you complete the first stage of the terrain generation and turn the sky from red to blue. I can’t think of another survival game that rewards growth with global changes to the environment, so it was nice to see the sky turn blue and know that I did. The trailer for the full game shows the significant evolution of the ecosystem as you progress through the terrain generation stages, and I can’t wait to see how the world changes as I progress through the game. .

Planet Crafter is not for everyone. It doesn’t have a particularly impressive look, doesn’t have a lot of story, and doesn’t have combat (so far). However, for survival fans who enjoy character exploration and progression in games like Subnautica and Breathedge, The Planet Crafter hits all the right notes. Watch the two-hour prologue now available for free on Steam.

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