By: Justin Redmon
By now you’ve played Minecraft, a whole lot of Minecraft, and if you haven’t played it, chances are you’ve seen or experienced one of the countless clones and imitators it spawned. Regardless of how fun Minecraft may be, I’m completely burnt out on what its experience offers and just want something new within the genre.
Terraria is one of the chosen few that manages to carve out its own path instead of being just an imitator, and by simple comparisons, it easy to say Crea by Siege Games takes a lot from that title. With RPG aspects it manages to escape being just another clone, and in doing so, breathes some life into a genre I was all but ready to abandon.
In controls, Crea handles well enough. Everything takes place in a 2D perspective, so jumping has a considerable floaty-ness to it that allows you to clear pretty much any obstacle while movement is as expected for a side scroller, although it doesn’t feel as smooth as you’d hope. Aiming all your weapons and spells is mouse driven, and, with plenty of hotkeys and the ability to map items and abilities to both mouse buttons, there’s plenty at your fingertips to make playing a smooth process.
My only real complaint stems from fighting with swords and such, which can be a bit awkward to actually hit people with, as even when the swinging animation clearly connects sometimes the game doesn’t register attacks on enemies. Although luckily I never had this problem with ranged spells and weapons, it’s still somewhat bothersome to have mobs get a few hits in because the game didn’t pick up what was clearly a hit.
In presentation, Crea boasts a pixel art style that manages to bring a lot of color into its world, and even in its early access state, Crea is easy on the eyes and endearing to look at. Monster designs are interesting; my favorite, for no reason other than pure ridiculousness, is probably Crea’s version of a sheep (called a “speep”) that’s basically a sheep with a giant spring in place of legs that takes to bouncing around all over the place.
There’s different biomes that introduce new environment styles and backgrounds, so things change enough that you won’t grow quickly tired of looking at the same thing, along with introducing new enemy mobs to fight and loot. That being said, with such a large focus on fighting a lot of the animations are just not that great. Sword attacking is a perfect example, as it’s nothing more than an extremely robotic up and down motion of your character’s arm.
Sound design also doesn’t seem to be much of a focus at this point as, though nothing in Crea is inoffensive to the ears in sound effects and music, it’s not really that memorable — although some might find its calming and peaceful melodies well suited to the grindy nature of crafting games.
In gameplay, Crea is a familiar affair. It sort of shies away from the Minecraft style of things and takes after games like Terraria much more, having an adventure and RPG focus around fighting mobs and monsters rather than a “crafting” experience, although that’s still very much supported here.
Your first bit of time in this game will be spent gathering resources and throwing together a house to survive. Item crafting is a bit different, as instead of just having everything from the get go you learn how to make new things by researching component pieces like wood and monster drops to see what you can make with items in a few different set classes such as furniture, armor and weapons. I actually preferred this over the all-at-once style, as letting the game drip feed you items you can build at your level lets you get accustomed to the game without being overwhelmed and helps encourage exploration and gathering.
What Crea does best, however, is its RPG mechanics, which give you a persistent bonus to whatever you’re doing in the game world at any time. Whether I’m out fighting monsters, or doing nothing but harvesting wood, I’m constantly gaining XP for the talent system. This allows me to purchase perks for what I’m doing, letting me do things like throw stronger spells, mine faster and more blocks at once, and do more damage with weapons.
Speaking of fighting, Crea handles its monster mobs a bit differently, as instead of being just stuck at a certain level, they increase as you do, as well as spawn new and harder creatures depending on how strong you’ve become. Perhaps most interesting is monsters tend to continually spawn mobs until you kill them, becoming more and more of a danger until you put a stop to it, as well as being a persistent threat whenever you become absorbed in doing other things. Those looking for it will also find a Boss to battle, and beating it unlocks a new ore and new drops for higher level armor.
Crea also throws in a few other nice additions, like being able to dual-wield multiple items like a torch and a pickaxe so you can mine and place torches without stopping, or crystals above and below ground that allow you to teleport whenever you want. Really, though, the best of the bunch is how maps will show you where materials and ores are — no more digging for hours without much to show for it besides an inventory full of dirt.
Perhaps the two most interesting features at this point are Steamworks integration and mod support, ensuring there’ll be a slew of new content incoming from players, as well as letting you fiddle around with the game’s workings to your heart’s content.
Crea proves it worth and avoids being just another crafter with a smart use of RPG mechanics and a promising future with Steamworks and Mod support. Even though as an early access title it still has a ways to go till being complete, there’s already a ton of value, making it a worthwhile purchase for those looking for their next crafting fix.