Game Over – The List (#JustOnePercent 55/100)

Developer: Dan Trimble
Release Date: June 30, 2021
MSRP: $5.99

I’ve always been fascinated by stories told out of order. That’s what drew me to Her Story back in 2016, and why I was interested in playing The List. The problem is, past the most basic of basics, it’s hard to talk about a game of this type without potentially spoiling the hell out of it.

In case you’re not familiar with this type of game, here are those basic basics. You’re tasked with putting together the pieces of a series of interrogations by searching for keywords. The List gives you access to some basic documentation to get you going, but before long, you’ll be frantically typing in every word that gets said in the last clip you managed to unlock, hoping upon hope that it’ll lead you to the next tiny scrap of story. I’ll admit, that doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, but there’s something very satisfying about putting the pieces together from a series of short sections of video.

Here’s what you know at the outset. A young man named Jordan Grady kills his mysterious assailant in self defense. Nothing is known about the gunman, and the only physical evidence is an unregistered gun, a strange coin, and a list of name. Jordan’s name was on the list, and was the only one not already crossed off. The West County Police Department interviews him over several days, and shortly after he is murdered. The case goes unsolved, and now, several years after the fact, you’re tasked with poring through the damaged segments of those interviews to see if you can figure out what really happened.

There are a whopping 275 video clips you can potentially unlock, but it isn’t necessary to find every single one to end the game – in fact, there is one key clip that once you discover it will trigger the end game state. Of course, you also have the side quest of figuring out just how to get into that password protected email account for an essential bit of information. Solving the mystery will require a bit of American-centric knowledge, and there were several reviewers who complained about this, but it wasn’t a stumbling block for me personally (and I say this after tabbing out to Google far more obscure information that led me exactly nowhere).

It took me about two hours to unlock the ending, and after the credits roll, you can go back into the game and watch any clips you might have missed. There were a few that made me realize that I passed over some really obvious keywords, and a few more that made me wonder how anyone would ever have found them. Overall, the game felt fair to me, even if I found myself a little frustrated from time to time.

SteamDB estimates that The List has sold between 1,300 and 3,600 copies on Steam. With the recently popularity of FMV video games and interactive mysteries, I’m surprised it hasn’t seen more success, because I felt like it was pretty well put together. It is ranked 3286 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Game Over – Wildermyth (#JustOnePercent 52/100)

Developer: Worldwalker Games LLC
Release Date: June 15, 2021
MSRP: $24.99

This post is a little off the beaten path for me – normally, I play something, and if I’m going to write about it, I do it fairly soon afterwards. My credits roll on Wildermyth happened about 6 months ago – I meant to write about it at that time, but I kept pushing it back for one reason or another until it fell off my radar entirely. When I was making my list of games to talk about for the #JustOnePercent project, I realized that this would be the perfect excuse to revisit the game – even briefly.

Wildermyth is a party-based RPG, where the focus is on character and story more than on combat and gear. There are six story campaigns, each of which has a distinct over-arching story, but with random encounters in between the story beats, as well as four random story options. Upon completing a campaign of any type, you’re given the option to add characters from that campaign to your Legacy, where they can be selected for later playthroughs with better starting stats. The more times you play a certain character, and re-add them to your legacy, the stronger they become.

It’s a neat gimmick, and if you find yourself playing a lot, it won’t take too long for your legacy to get a bit unwieldy. However, if you don’t care for the base gameplay – and that includes a lot of reading and choice-based character progression – the legacy system probably won’t endear you overly much to the rest of the game.

There are only three classes – warrior, hunter, and mage, and rather than dithering over stats and equipment, the character creation process focuses mainly on the look of your character and their personality traits. In most campaigns, your would-be heroes start with frying pans and pitchforks, and class customization is limited to choosing from one of a handful randomly rolled abilities when you obtain enough experience to level up. There are also limited enemy types, and it can lead to the combat sections feeling repetitive and almost dull after awhile.

The main appeal of the game lies in the stories it tells. Initially, getting a new event is exciting; most of my game time was spent playing co-op with a friend, and we’d spend a significant amount of time debating our choices, when we could only guess where those choices would lead. However, despite the randomly generated maps, there are only a limited number of these carefully constructed encounters, and even if you just play through the story campaigns, you’ll likely have a handful that you encounter enough times that you’ll have learned the optimum choice to make, especially if you tend to choose similar personality traits for your heroes. Personally, I was partial to making character that were snarky and bookish, and since traits have an effect on what encounters you receive, it wasn’t long before I started seeing repeats.

Despite these weaknesses, I really enjoyed the more than fifty hours I spent playing Wildermyth. I really appreciated the need to manage how long you spent on each chapter; as enemies would get stronger with the passage of time, and if you weren’t clearing infested areas quickly enough, you could get an incursion of many powerful enemies to deal with. I liked feeling like every decision I made had some weight, and I’ll admit to getting attached to my characters. I was sad when they aged up and retired, and sadder still on the (very rare) occasions one ended up being permanently maimed or dying. I wanted success and happiness for these little paper people, and was charmed by the short summaries of how they filled their time during the years of peace between chapters.

SteamDB estimates that Wildermyth has sold somewhere between 249,500 and 686,100 copies on Steam. It’s been reviewed almost 12,000 times, and has an overall review score of Overwhelmingly Positive. It is ranked 73 out of 10,967 games released in 2021, a huge accomplishment for a first game from a indie developer.

Game Over – Beasts of Maravilla Island (#JustOnePercent 50/100)

Developer: Banana Bird Studios, LLC
Release Date: June 12, 2021
MSRP: $9.99

I don’t remember where I heard about the Kickstarter for Beasts of Maravilla Island, but I’ve always been a sucker for photography games, and with a $5 tier that included a digital copy of the game, it seemed like a no brainer. Then, I did what I usually do with Kickstarters – I proceeded to basically forget all about it until I received my key, which I activated, and then forgot about it all over again.

… this is why my library is so out of control, I’m pretty sure.

You play as Marina Montez, who has decided to follow in her late grandfather’s footsteps and visit Maravilla Island to explore and document the creatures living there. The story doesn’t quite hold together under any kind of scrutiny – at the beginning, your character seems to almost not believe that the island even exists, despite having with her a journal that documents her grandfather’s visits. But the player isn’t kept in suspense long, you arrive on the island and start your quest to photograph all the flora and fauna.

There are three distinct biomes on Maravilla Island, each with unique plants and animals to photograph, including one “special” animal in each biome. Your tasked with taking specific behavioral photos of each of the special animals, as well as any photograph of all of the critters and plants. Missing these won’t impede your progress; the game is very much on-rails, and it is only a handful of light puzzling sections that keep you from rushing immediately to the final biome and the end of the game.

Without a strong story, or challenging gameplay, what’s left for Beasts of Maravilla Island is a gorgeous artstyle (although I found the second biome to be a little hard on the eyes after a bit), and some pretty adorable creatures to photograph. While I found it charming, and appreciated its conservation-focused message, it shouldn’t take more than a couple hours to get through even for completionists, and I don’t feel any strong pull to go back to it. I enjoyed my time with it, but am unlikely to return.

SteamDB estimates that Beasts of Maravilla Island has sold between 4,800 and 13,300 copies. With only a handful of negative reviews, it seems like most people enjoyed their time on this magical island. It is ranked 753 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Game Over – No Ghost in Stay Home (#JustOnePercent 46/100)

Developer: Midori Games
Release Date: June 4, 2021
MSRP: $0.99

Environmental puzzle games can be really fantastic if they’re well done, but they are just a likely to miss the mark if the player just doesn’t get it. For me, the hallmark of a good environmental puzzler is clear cause-and-effect. It may take you a while to figure out exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, but you can clearly see what happens as a result of your actions. You flip a switch, and a light comes on or goes off. You stand on a pressure plate, and a door opens. You push on a book, and the bookcase slides over.

No Ghost in Stay Home is an environmental puzzle horror game that I think misses this mark, or perhaps it’s me who just didn’t get it. There are probably a dozen spots in the single room puzzler that are interactable, and after several (admittedly very short) playthroughs, I have very little concept of what anything actually does. There are a few different items that can be picked up, but again, I’ve only figured out what one of them is for. You can only hold one at a time, and they don’t seem to do anything or have any effect on the ending you get.

In fact, I’m not even sure what the role of the player actually is. The premise is that Anna is being left home alone for the first time for a few hours. You can see Anna sitting in a chair during the entire play through, so clearly, you are not Anna because you are all over that room looking for stuff to touch. However, she’s also supposed to be there alone, so you’re not a parent, babysitter, or friend. I suppose you are just a force, screwing around with a child who is scared (and to be honest, probably quite bored) for a few hours.

Even when I managed to make something happen, I didn’t fully understand what led to a given result. Going by achievements (which are outrageously non-descriptive for the most part) there are seventeen different endings. Although I managed to get a handful of these, I also managed to get the same ending from not touching anything for the entire three minute playthrough as I did for a round where I messed around with absolutely everything. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

It’s possible that something is lost in translation with No Ghost In Stay Home. It’s also possible that this game just didn’t do anything for me personally. On the upside, each playthrough only takes – at a maximum – about three minutes, so if you like the aesthetics and don’t mind the idea that it might all feel a little too random, it could be an interesting experience if you have a dollar to spare.

SteamDB estimates that No Ghost in Stay Home has sold somewhere between 1,000 and 2,800 copies on Steam. It didn’t do it for me, but almost everyone who left a review left a positive one. It is ranked 1151 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Game Over – Overboard! (#JustOnePercent 45/100)

Developer: inkle Ltd.
Release Date: June 2, 2021
MSRP: $14.99

Overboard! is a bit of a backwards murder mystery. It’s not a whodunnit – you did it after all – but a whocouldadunnit as you unravel the mysteries of the other passengers on the ship to figure out who can be blamed, and who is going to help you get away with killing your husband. It’s best to go avoid walkthroughs for this one – the point is not to succeed on your first try, but to pull at the different threads to see how it all shakes out until you manage to pull off the perfect crime.

Your first playthrough is almost definitely going to result in you going to jail. That’s okay. You’ll be able to try again, taking with you the things you learned from your last run. Everyone else will do things exactly as they had before – only your character can change things up. If you visit a location early enough, you can prevent an important clue from being found. If you’re in the right spot at the right time, you may be able to use your charms to convince someone to help you, or perhaps you’ll be able to blackmail them into silence. It might take a few runs before you actually get away with murder, but as long as you switch up something each time you play, you’ll learn something new and – just maybe – be able to twist that to your advantage.

It took me three attempts to avoid getting thrown in jail, and seven before I got away clean, with someone else taking the fall for my crime, with a total play time of just over 90 minutes. There are still quite a few alternate routes I could explore, and more achievements to unlock, but the retail price is a little steep for a game that can be beaten (without any sort of out of game information) in such a short period of time.

Still, I enjoyed Overboard! quite a bit; every little bit of information I managed to stumble across made me feel clever, and as I finished each play through, I was eager to dive back in, armed with new clues about how to get away with it. Despite already having “won”, there are a few more things I’d like to try, just to see how they play out, and the short time per run (mine averaged between 10 and 15 minutes) means that “just one more time” isn’t overly tedious or a big commitment.

SteamDB estimates that Overboard! has sold somewhere between 6,100 and 16,700 copies on Steam. Reviews are mostly positive, with detractors mainly citing how quickly you can see everything it has to offer as a point against it. I personally appreciate a game that doesn’t overstay its welcome, but agree that $15 might be a little high for the amount of content. It is ranked 730 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Game Over – The Wild At Heart (#JustOnePercent 41/100)

Developer: Moonlight Kids
Release Date: May 20, 2021
MSRP: $24.99

I’ve been vaguely interested in The Wild At Heart since I spotted it on GamePass a few months ago, but puzzle adventure games are so hit and miss for me, I kept putting it off. As of a few days ago, it’s no longer available through GamePass. Fortunately for me, it’s still playable through Humble Trove, and because of where I had it scheduled and when it was set to go off of GamePass, that’s the version I ended up playing.

It took me just under 9 hours to complete the storyline on the easier of the two difficulties, and I knew before I was through my first hour of game play that I was going to want to see this one through to the end credits. While I feel like the Wanderer difficulty better fit my play style, I also feel like in some ways, I missed out on some of the experience, but I’m getting ahead of myself a bit here.

You begin the game as Wake, a boy who had made plans with his best friend Kirby to run away from home together, and manages to get so lost, he ends up in what feels like another world. The Deep Woods is the home of the Greenshields, and their companions, the Spritelings, who protect the world at large from the dark forces of the Nether. When you arrive, most of the Greenshields are missing and things are in disarray after the loss of The Green Witch. You’re asked to lend a hand, adventuring with the Spritelings, who seem to be fond of you, and you start exploring, using both your new friends and your trusty backpack vacuum to overcome obstacles in your path.

There’s very little in the Deep Woods that you can interact with directly – most tasks need to be performed by sending out your Spritelings. Initially, you only have Twiglings, who help by destroying toxic mushrooms, reinvigorating plant life, and carrying large objects back to where they belong. As you progress through the story, you will meet four other variety of Spritelings, all of whom are suited for different sorts of tasks, so you’ll want to make sure you keep a good assortment with you at all times.

Once you get a bit into the story, your friend Kirby manages to join you, and then you will control both characters. By default, Wake, Kirby and the Spritelings all move together, but you can (and will need to) occasionally separate them. Kirby is smaller, and can squeeze through logs to get to previously inaccessible areas, and she soon acquires a special lantern, which, like Wake’s Gustbuster, can draw things in close to her. This ability is critical not only for quickly picking up piles of resources, but for herding up wayward Spritelings.

Once you unlock the hub area, you’ll be able to repair some structures, which unlock some upgrade paths & additional game play elements. While playing on the Wanderer difficulty, most of this felt irrelevant throughout the majority of the game, and I admit that I mostly skipped over all of it. Sure, I picked things up and threw them in my stash, but I didn’t feel like I needed to grind resources to upgrade my health – unless I stayed out after dark, I very rarely took damage, and if I stayed out after dark, it was unlikely that another pip (or even two) of health was going to make the difference.

Making sure to get to camp once the sun sets is critical – once it’s dark, the denizens of the Never come out, and your only real recourse is to find a light source. Monsters you encounter during the day time can be dealt with by your Spriteling army, but you’re not meant to fight the forces of the Never, only to avoid them for the majority of the game. Playing the game on the Wanderer difficulty also meant that combat really didn’t feel like a big focus – throw the right Spritelings on the monsters, and they were vanquished fairly quickly. Because of this, the very end of the game was a bit of a culture-shock, and making sure I had an adequate supply of health restoration items was critical for the first time in the entire game.

Still, I enjoyed the story and the game play of The Wild At Heart, and the pacing felt really good – every time I really understood how it all worked, a new element was added, almost right until the very end of the game. I will admit to consulting a walkthrough a time or two, but usually it was due to my poor navigational skills rather than particularly obtuse puzzles – I struggled with finding things, not with figuring out what I needed to do once I arrived.

Overall, it’s a beautiful game with lovely music, and interesting story, and puzzles that will make you think, but that for the most part, aren’t likely to frustrate. Post-credits, you can go back into your save file and do completionist things if that suits you – what feels like a point of no return will roll the credits once you’re past it, but doesn’t stop you from finishing up anything you missed.

SteamDB estimates that The Wild At Heart has sold somewhere between 4,700 and 13,000 copies on Steam. While those aren’t stellar sales numbers, subscription service availability and low replay value have probably lowered sales a bit, and as a Humble Games published title, it’s a good candidate for eventual inclusion in Humble Choice. However, reviews overall have been favorable, and it is ranked 342 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Game Over – Bugsnax

I have a rule when it comes to Steam tags – always check them, never trust them. Sure, some tags are put there by developers, but if enough Steam users apply a tag to a given game, it ends up showing up, sometimes higher in the list than the developers tags, and there are a *lot* of folks out there who think they’re very very funny.

When Elden Ring gets highlighted under the “Relaxing” tag, you probably have some amateur comedians at work.

Why am I talking about this now? Because the top user-defined tag for Bugsnax is “Psychological Horror”, and I am here to tell you that this is both correct and appropriate. You can trust this tag. It may look like an adorable adventure game with a dash of “gotta catch them all” but it’s also so very very deeply disturbing.

You play as a nearly-unemployed journalist, who has received a file, complete with black & white home movie style video, from explorer Lizbert Megafig. She wants you to come to the site of her latest discovery, Snaktooth Island, where all of the wildlife looks like snack foods and is, in fact, delicious. She feels like these creatures are a pretty significant discovery, and she wants you to tell the world about it.

As you approach the island in your half-ship, half-hot-air-balloon, a giant moth swoops down on you, knocking you out of your vehicle (which you will discover a little ways in crashed, but not too terribly damaged). After a super-brief tutorial on moving around, you discover the first of your fellow Grumpuses, lying on the ground nearly dead from hunger, and all of a sudden, you’re not just a journalist anymore. You’re going to be the best Bugsnax catcher this island has ever seen. You feed your new friend a Strobby or two (a very easy to catch Bugsnack that looks just like a strawberry), and immediately, he begins to change.

Now that I have played Bugsnax, I will never think of the phrase “You are what you eat!” quite the same way again. It is, in fact, possible to feed other Grumpuses until they become nothing but Bugsnax. Thankfully, the player character appears to be allergic to these tasty treats, as well as immune to the effects of hunger.

If you can get past the willful self-mutilation that every goofy looking critter on this island seems willing to endure for the delectability of the local fauna, you’re about to start on a whirlwind adventure of convincing all the (former) inhabitants of Snaxburg back to their home base on the island. See, Lizbert and her partner Eggabel have both disappeared, and the rest of the crew has gone their separate ways. Weird things are happening on Snaktooth Island, and as the resident nameless journalist, it’s up to you to put everything back to rights and find the missing Grumpuses.

I’m not really comfortable dropping spoilers for anything past the game’s intro; sure it’s been available for quite awhile on both Playstation and Epic Games, but just recently was released on both Steam and XBox (including on GamePass, which is where I played it). You will be given all the tools you need to catch every Bugsnax that exists, and although all the mechanics are fairly well explained, there are still plenty of opportunities to feel very clever indeed. There are also plenty of hints and walkthroughs all across the internet, should you find that you need them.

Zones open up slowly, as you manage to complete different tasks. In the end, there are 10 zones, including the “home base” of Snaxburg and the recently added free DLC area of Broken Tooth. You will also have four types of quests – main quests, which you will need to complete to progress the story, interviews, which almost always end with you obtaining something you’ll need by the game’s conclusion, side quests, which are mostly optional, but not really optional if you want to catch all the Bugsnax or open up the DLC area, and quests that come in the mail, which seem to just give cosmetics but which are, frustratingly, un-trackable once you finish reading the letter they come in.

There’s a lot going on, but if you stick only to what you need to do, you can complete the entire game in 5-6 hours. Which is what I did, because I have trouble not progressing the main quest when the game is successful at making you feel a sense of urgency. There is a point where the game warns you that you are about the pass the point of no return, and I did so without hesitation. There was a mystery to solve, after all. Lives were hanging in the balance.

Virtual muppet lives, but I was into it, ok?

Then I did something I never ever do. I started over. I wanted to play the whole thing again, this time, making sure I did all the quests & caught all the bugs & did everything there was to do … within reason. Even considering how much less time I was spending figuring things out on a second play through, this one has thus far been considerably longer, and that’s not including the pretty lengthy sequence that comes past the point of no return, which I have yet to pass. I’ve just opened up the DLC area, and as you can see, I’ve done a lot more on the second playthrough than the first.

Despite having almost nothing in common with them gameplay-wise, the feel of Bugsnax reminded me a lot of the Psychonauts games (which I loved both of despite being cool towards 3D platformers in general). Both games are bright and colorful and full of absolute what-the-fuckery. Whatever ride you think you’ve gotten on, you’re about to discover that the place this train is barreling towards you never really wanted to go, but you’re just dying to see what’s at the end of the tracks.

There’s something magical about that.

Game Over – Unforgettable You (#JustOnePercent 35/100)

Developer: NanningsGames
Release Date: May 102, 2021
MSRP: Free

I don’t generally go in for platformers, but I feel like story-driven platformers aren’t terrible common. Unforgettable You is just that – in fact, it leans so heavily into the focus of story and art, I’m not entirely sure it needed to be a platformer at all. Certainly, the game play is the weakest part of this short, free title; it’s a minimalist journey through a love affair from first meeting until final goodbye.

Did I mention the graphics are stunning? Your character is forever a silhouette, against 21 distinct background designs. On each level, there are three hearts to collect (most of which you will get easily just moving from one end to the other), and a light orb that finishes out the level. Thankfully for me, the platforming is not difficult, and there is no combat. There are, however, places where missed jumps or touching dangerous creatures can reset your progress, and two levels where for at least part of the time, speed is of the essence, and missing a single jump can mean being returned to the start of the level.

I know I already said that Unforgettable You‘s strength is not in its game play, but I was impressed at the number of different (and yet not too challenging) mechanics peppered throughout. I think even in a game that I was able to complete in under an hour, without the frequent changes and additions in how the levels were structured, it would have become tedious. The story is fairly minimalistic, with each level only having a handful of lines of (full voice acted!) dialogue.

If you’re a platforming aficionado looking for a challenge, give this one a pass. If you want to look at pretty graphics, and enjoy lovely music while taking in a short and sweet love story, this game is 100% worth the download.

SteamDB estimates that Unforgettable You has been downloaded between 500 and a 1,300 times from Steam. It is ranked 1961 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Game Over – Redeliver (#JustOnePercent 34/100)

Developer: Nyfarious
Release Date: May 10, 2021
MSRP: $0.99

What I thought I was getting with Redeliver was a visual novel about delivering lost letters with some light puzzle elements. Well, I was right about the visual novel part. Sure, you need to deliver some letters along the way, but this is a fairy tale remix, that crams a whole lot of story into a very short game. You play as Red, who is taking an important package to her grandmother, and in doing so, stumbles into a plot to overthrow the government and teams up with some revolutionaries to save the day.

No, I’m not kidding.

This may be the first time I’ve ever said this, but I think Redeliver could have benefited from being twice as long with half the game play, at least with the elements that exist within the game as it stands. The game description mentions puzzles; however, what you have is a few not-so-hidden object scenes (some of which are really just down to trial and error) and a few reverse-fetch quests, where you need to click on a map based on vague directions from other people you’ve encountered. As far as I’m concerned, neither of these things added anything to the game. Twice, I was actually annoyed at how tedious and drawn-out the “puzzles” were. Instead of feeling clever, the best I could hope for was feeling lucky.

Redeliver definitely has more to offer in storytelling than gameplay. Despite feeling very rushed, the story has a couple emotional moments and some difficult choices, which are only made slightly less difficult by knowing that there is only one ending, which is, by default, the best ending. It’s easier to just go with your gut if you know the outcome isn’t going to change based on what you decide. Although multiple endings would have added some replayability, at the sub-dollar price point, I am not sure the game needed them. Unfortunately, the bigger flaw in the plot is that everything happens so fast, and you’re just kind of dragged along for the ride. It was like playing the Cliff’s Notes version of a visual novel.

Although I didn’t find the whole thing to be wildly successful, I did play it through to completion in just under an hour. This is yet another game that – as far as I can tell – is the first major effort from a solo developer, and it does hold together. Considering it falls a bit outside my preferred gaming genres, I consider this to be a successful game, because I did enjoy it.

SteamDB estimates that Redeliver has sold somewhere between 100 and a 300 copies on Steam. While not a huge success in the sales department, all the reviews so far have been positive. It is ranked 3873 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Game Over (For Now) – Core Keeper

I have such a love-hate relationship with the whole concept of Early Access Games. I’m not the type of player who tends to play things anywhere close to when I buy them, so most of my less-than-stellar Early Access experiences have been of the type where I buy into something early, put off actually playing it for awhile, then when I actually sit down to play it find that it’s either been left unfinished, or in one notable case, taken completely offline and unplayable.

Mostly, I buy into Early Access games now if I’m willing to take a gamble and support a concept that looks really cool, or if the game is mostly complete and I don’t want to wait. I guess for me Core Keeper fell more into the former category than the latter. What was different this time was that my co-op partner & I picked this one up on our first game night after release and just started playing it, and stuck with it for multiple weeks until we felt like we’ve seen everything it (currently) has to offer.

In just over 20 hours, we’ve managed to kill all the storyline bosses (of which there are only four), one of the two hidden optional bosses, and put together the Rune Song Sword, a legendary weapon that we spent most of an entire play session on. There are at least two more story-content bosses planned before the eventual end of the game, and we have both already agreed that we’ll revisit it down the line.

The best way I can describe Core Keeper is take one part Stardew Valley, one part Terraria, sprinkle in hunger mechanics, and blend until unrecognizable. Expect to spend a lot of time digging for resources and repairing your tools, while also making sure you’re growing or fishing up adequate food. In our first play session, my partner explored while I set up a home base. We decided to settle near the first water source we found, and just kind of dug around it to set up a small farm and crafting area.

What we didn’t realize at the time was that our base was a stone’s throw from the first boss mob, so most of my early food production endeavors were punctuated by the noise of a giant slime hopping around just on the other side of a wall. Thankfully, most of the earliest monsters you encounter aren’t particularly interested in you until you’re just about right on top of them, so we took our time meandering through the crafting tree until we felt like we could reasonably take on the challenge that was banging around literally just outside our door.

While that first boss was pretty straightforward, just about everything we encountered afterwards had a quirk that required more thought than brawn. We were determined to do as much as we could without looking up walkthroughs or other spoilers, but I couldn’t resist poking around after we’d beaten them to see if there was a simpler way we hadn’t thought of. There was. There always is.

Lots of good stuff to look forward to on the roadmap.

With the story still unfinished, this isn’t a true Game Over, and I’ll be back to Core Keeper as soon as there’s something new to see. I have no regrets about picking this one up at full price.