Craftopia is, perhaps, what happens when someone tries to smoosh together too many other popular games. It borrows heavily from Breath of the Wild, then tosses in bits and bobs from other survival-focused crafting games, takes a little taste of monster-catching games, before finally adding just a pinch of insert-your-favorite-farming-game-here. Let’s be real – it even sounds like a bit of a hot mess. Still, I have been a little bit fascinated for awhile about just how it all comes together, so when a “Game Preview” showed up on XBox Game Pass for PC, I had to give it a whirl.
I’ve given it about three hours now, and managed to level up my tech era twice and travel to a new island. My character is level 16, and just about the only things I feel like I have down are mining, chopping wood, and shooting arrows. The rest is all kind of hit or miss.
Character creation is currently super basic and a little buggy, because hair colors really don’t match what’s shown. Once you create a world, you’re presented with a big red button to push. Pushing it blows up earth, and then you get a cut scene where a pretty lady knows what you did. I’m not sure this is one that’ll go over big with the story focused gamers among us.
Then you’re on a deserted island – well, deserted except for like 10 tutorial humans and a bunch of animals. The first time you do something, quests start appearing willy nilly in the upper right hand corner of your screen, for you to either work on or ignore. Really, you can do pretty much whatever you want – hunt treasures, chop trees, craft some basic tools, murder some farm animals. The world is your oyster.
I am playing on the easiest difficulty currently available; there is a pure “creative mode” planned to release around the end of the month, but so far, nothing is terribly hard. I did almost get eaten by a bear early on, but since acquiring a bow, I’ve noticed most things won’t chase you if you shoot them from far enough away. You level up by doing absolutely everything, and you’re given points to spend on skillssin whatever way most suits your playstyle.
There are dungeons on each island, although I think using the term “dungeon” is a bit of a reach, at least for the first island. It’s a long corridor with some stuff to break, some stuff to kill, and a boss fight at the end. They probably get harder, but I am not sure if they get any more complex or atmospheric. Honestly, my entire experience with the game over three hours has led me to keep my expectations low.
But it’s also kept me playing. I am the type of gamer who loves ridiculous checklists that contain items like “Chop 10,000 trees”. If you feel like you don’t know what to do, the mission list is there to guide you (although the auto tracker could use some help with prioritizing). Usually, you have to make something to progress. There’s tons of stuff to craft, and the interface is pretty simple, so crafting feels like less of a chore than it does in some games. Building doesn’t feel great yet, but it also just dawned on me that I need a furniture factory for complex items like doors.
I have, however, discovered that you can put cows in a toaster and milk comes out, so there’s that.
Craftopia is definitely not a finished game, and I’m fairly certain it’s trying to do too much and is therefore also not very good, and yet, I still want to keep playing. It’s pretty, it’s not very demanding either mentally or physically. I like to have a low-mental-effort game that can be played in short bursts, and I’m thinking I’ll probably pick this one up next time it goes on sale.