There are certain elements that make Total Miner: Forge to be one of the best if not my all-time personal favourite voxel based game of all time. Comparing it to the PC Juggernaut Minecraft is absurd. The two are, in retrospect, entirely different games. For one, Total Miner tries its hardest to make you feel like your survival is not just about building shelter and farming crops, and while these are both still factors that play an intricate part in what is often a visceral and unforgiving world (I genuinely mean it, it’s brutal to start.) You will find yourself most of the time levelling certain combat stats or trading in the in-game market for extra tools and equipment. There’s definitely a lot more to do in this game than Minecraft, however there are certain things that need to be put across.
Total Miner presents itself quite beautifully with far-reaching view distances and a variety of texture packs that are available from the start of the game. Though some of the many, many unlockable character models are, to be frank, quite ugly, the rest of the game holds out well with regards to how the pixel shading and lighting is done. While ditching the look that games like CastleMiner and FortressCraft went for with the whole 3D/Avatar look, Total Miner stays true to the more pixelated styled visuals, and it definitely pays off. Though the same cannot be said for the game’s lack of animations, it still needs to be appreciated how well the art of certain models and blocks were done. As well as this, Total Miner offers a very impressive, if sometimes inappropriately timed soundtracks and definitely adds to the immersion factor, which is dire in a game that is about survival as much as it is creation.
In total, there are a number of different game modes to play, all in either single player or up to 16 player co-op and PvP. These modes fall under either Survival or Creative, both of which are self-explanatory, and entail a variety of different factors that make them all unique. For instance, Dig Deep is a mode where one must undertake the task of digging to the bottom of the world (which goes much much much further than Minecraft’s bedrock limit.) and through the several layers of hell. Then, there’s the RPG mode, which includes a number of different elements that personally reminded me of Runescape. Stats such as defence, archery, attack, to mining, farming and chopping levels. These can all be progressed to be able to defeat higher level mobs during the night and to be able to mine different materials that require a certain level of skill. Overall, all of these elements work well, with exception to the quite often exploitable combat physics.
Multiplayer lobbies work brilliantly in this game. With intuitive admin controls and fast lobbies, this is definitely a gem among the multiplayer XBLIG bunch. It’s always better to survive the oncoming hordes of the night with a few friends, and it’s definitely better for community building. Especially with the in-game economy that, once more, unlike Minecraft, supports trading.
There are also a lot of tiers of items in the game that contribute to a quite well done PvP system that is composed of players skills, and it needs to be said how brilliant it felt when I had to train my character for hours on end, for it all to pay out in me winning everyone else’s gear through well-aimed shots from a tree and quick moves with a sword.
Total Miner feels like an actual game, while still retaining this art style that a lot of games cease to include. It hascharm, it has depth and attention to detail has definitely been done. Nothing in the game looks unattractive, save for the animations. Building in survival mode feels like a chore, and that’s how it’s supposed to be done. Though the game still follows the same issue that CastleMiner Z does, and lacks any real survival elements like a hunger bar, it still manages to compromise by giving players an unforgiving and harsh mob system that will hunt you all throughout the nights.
The prime difference is between this game and that putrid excuse of a Minecraft clone is that the mobs aren’t annoying. They seek to serve a purpose and that is to put you under pressure and be there so you can fight them off and earn experience which you can use to build up your strength so you can better protect your home. The marketplace makes it easier to gain things, and the loot drops from mobs make sense. Higher levelled enemies will drop more valuable gear that is specific to that mob, and will sell for more gold which you can use to buy weapons or armour that you can’t craft by any other means.
This game is a gem. Coming from an indie developer who constantly updates it and clearly poured a lot of time an d effort into it, I implore you to pick it up. It doesn’t follow the same issues that CastleMiner Z has, and it doesn’t pitifully try to stand up to any other game but its own. It has its faults, but nothing that isn’t going to be fixed in the near future. This game definitely earns my Heart Award, and I cannot wait for the PC Release once this game gets Greenlit. Yep, there are plans for that, too.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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