The original Fortress Craft had the unfortunate pleasure of being one of the larger poster child’s for Indie Games, back in the day. Having the closest thing to Mine Craft on the Xbox 360, and for a cheap price itself, was a god-send for 11-year old me as i had neither the brains, money or motivation to build myself a PC worthy of running Mine Craft. So, alas, i settled with Fortress Craft on the 360 Indie Store.
Back then, Indie Games had nowhere near the positive press and industry enthusiasm that they have today. It was an entirely different landscape, where putting the word ‘Indie’ on your digital box cover was a sure-fire way to disperse any interest gathered in the product. As the store itself was littered with various Mine Craft clones that did little to separate themselves from the rest, Fortress Craft existed as both one of the original clones and as a product that dared to have a little bit of effort and charm put into its development. It certainly satisfied my needs at the time.
Here we are now, in the prime Indie uprising where almost every game that fits within the Indie development sector feels like it needs to re-iterate to its target audience, that yes, this game is Indie, so please give our small team of 5 lots of money and attention. It feels littered across the entire industry now. Fortress Craft Evolved however, well, evolves past this recent trope and instead relies on its developer (yes, singular) to allow gamers to find their own sort of magic within the game. This game doesn’t feel Indie, which is quite remarkable, and the developer approaches the wise choice of allowing gamers to simply mine beneath the games surface to see everything that the game entails, whilst only resting on the laurels of its infamous name from back in the day to promote the product.
Whilst on the surface, there are lots of similarities with Mine Craft, Evolved steadily moves beyond what now seems like primitive and shallow mechanics. Although you start off with a measly ore extractor to receive minerals and a limited power supply (that needs to be shared between your suit and your tracking device), after a hefty playtime you’ll find yourself a testament to self-sustaining bad-assery. Thanks to a pseudo upgrade system taking the form of researching new Items to build, you find a steady stream of content making its way into your blueprint list, although the grind to even get the basics is a long one at the start. I found myself in dire need of Tin Ore very soon, and Tin Ore is essentially for creating the conveyor belts needed to transfer your other minerals from their dig sites. It was about 5 hours in where i had my first fully functioning Conveyor/Ore Extraction system in place. By then, i began settling into the groove of the game flow which will initially present itself as a more methodical, slower paced comparison to Mine Craft. I’d say the similarities end there, as soon enough the game loses the slow pacing but keeps the methodical nature of it all, as you slowly escalate into your very own voxel-based Tower Defence game.
Visually, Fortress Craft Evolved looks as one would expect but contains a plethora of visual options. Perhaps there are one too many of these options, as being the PC Nut that i am, my immediate reaction upon launching the game was to turn everything to the max and run with it. Unfortunately, my RX 480 wasn’t having any of it and it slowly paced along at around 30-40fps, which i would consider perfectly fine if the game looked like GTA 5 on a Botox-Steroid infusion. But with a game that emphasises game play over visuals, all these options don’t add much and it ends up just bogging down the system, an issue enough considering that World-Generation alone will take up much of your systems capabilities as it is. A very minor issue however, in the grand scheme of things.
A game like Fortress Craft Evolved can’t really be talked about too much, simply because the fun is there for you to make of it. It provides you the tools and the world (several pre-set worlds by the way, all of which are impressive and allow many customisation options) and as long as you have the initial patience for it, the rest of the game will carry you forward into something bigger and better than any of its other competitors. I’d argue that this game is so far, the prime example of crafting games done right and is one of, if not the best in its genre. Although a games quality shouldn’t be biased towards a developers man power, I give very high praise to the sole developer, Adam, for sticking with this concept since its initialisation in 2011 and carrying it forward to such a high degree, resulting in a remarkably fun game. All one needs to do, is to dig below the surface to find a very rich gold-mine indeed.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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