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Castle Miner Z: PC Review

 

Castle Miner Z was massively successful on the Xbox 360. In a surge of indie games on the arcade, the community landed on a voxel based sandbox game by the name of Castle Miner Z. It was the best selling game on the Marketplace and the low price point made it tempting for players to load it up and play the game with friends. Recently, Castle Miner Z was brought to Steam to compete with the other amount of voxel driven games. Now, as much as I hate to be one of those guys. But it is hard not to mention Minecraft in this situation. I won’t be making comparisons between the games for obvious reasons, but clearly there are some similarities. That is the case when you have games in the same genre.

A player driven experience, Castle Miner Z drops the player into a world with a mysterious landmark and a lot of empty land. You only have a few supplies to work with and you better be careful, the more you explore, the more danger you are put in. There is no story to speak of, your reason to keep playing is to see how long you can last in a world where everything is out to kill you.

When it comes to games like this, I am always held up at a crossroads. This is an indie title, and as such I cannot hold it up to the same standards as other games, especially ones like Minecraft that have been around for years with countless updates and player feedback. At the same time, I still have to be critical and tell you guys if this game is fun. When I was playing Castle Miner Z, I was bored and frustrated. Here was my experience.

ss_9a6a57f2d67b33e99c15eb822a7c24e3cb0625ff.1920x1080I spawn in with some weapons, ammo, and a pickaxe. I walk around and hear noises. Zombies attack me and I whip out my gun and start shooting. As I continued to look for a place to set up camp, more and more zombies started spawning. It felt endless. When I hear some unusual noises, I looked around and saw no zombies. That is when I looked up and saw a dragon flying overhead. I try shooting at it but there was no indication I was even hitting the thing. Then I tried running away, it just kept following me, shooting fireballs and destroying the landscape. I couldn’t cut down trees because of this dragon, so I figured everything would be hindered if I couldn’t have a basic resource. So I left the game. I started the other game mode, Survival, figuring it was just endurance that spawned a dragon. I was wrong and yet again I was hindered by this boss enemy. I was compelled to look online to see how I had to start the game.

After looking up a starters guide for Castle Miner Z I began to see what this game had to offer. I had to mine out minerals to make better tools and weapons to fight off enemies. In the process I could build large buildings to house my findings. I spent a lot of time in caves but I couldn’t do what I wanted to, which was mine. Despite my area being totally lit, skeletons would attack me like clockwork. I couldn’t get anything done. There was too much going on. Mine stuff, kill skeletons, manage all your resources, be sure to keep killing stuff, I just wanted small nuggets of peace. When I would play Minecraft I knew I wouldn’t be attacked because of the well lit areas I was in (barring the occasional rare creeper). Now in Castle Miner Z I had no “me” time. Obviously this is a game that is more focused on fighting survival rather than traditional survival so it seems fitting. But the game seems to lack a balance between enemy spawning and how they spawn. There were enemies all the time and it was really off putting.

ss_0169020e5db47048bbb07039fd6588a4a6b86f43.1920x1080When I did get enough stuff to make buildings, they would just get destroyed by enemies breaking down stuff or a well placed dragon fireball. Even the people living at the river city weren’t bombarded this heavy with dragon attacks in Desolation of Smaug all at one time. When you have this much going on you would think that the crafting system would be quick and precise to make weapons and other items on the fly, right? WRONG. The crafting of Catsle Miner Z has to be one of the most frustrating if not the most frustrating aspects about the game. You click on crafting in the menu, and you have a long picture list of items you can create. It not only contains items you can create, but also ones you cannot create. So you have the entire inventory list available to you, now while in parts that is helpful, when your game is this fast paced, I would not want something like that cluttering up my screen. It doesn’t feel organized at all, and it is rather tedious to use.

Castle Miner Z’s saving grace is the multiplayer. This game is very enjoyable with more than one person but finding non troll servers or friends willing to invest time into a game like this can be challenging, especially since most of them probably already play the competition. I can see how Castle Miner Z was so successful on the console. However, the domain of PC is entirely different and people will view this game to be a crude Minecraft clone, I will tell you that this game is certainly in the same genre, but it is a different game with a different focus.

Castle Miner Z needed to be optimized for PC for it to work and it has to have some functions available that makes it feel like a game that is not a simple port. It certainly is a different voxel sandbox adventure game, and I give massive commendations for that. However, there are other voxel games available that beat out Castle Miner Z. It doesn’t feel right on PC. I give it a 4/10. Very playable, but lacking in plenty of mechanics that make the voxel sandbox an enjoyable experience.  

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