I recently bought and started playing Minecraft, a sandbox game made by a Swedish pirate. Minecraft feels a lot like playing with oversized Legos – You essentially start out in a procedurally generated world and run around punching things to make more things out of, while trying to avoid getting pummeled yourself, shot, or blown up. I’ve been enjoying it more and more as updates have been coming out, and it’s fun being able to play out an idea or construct something out of materials you’ve harvested from the depths of the earth.
The big draw of Minecraft is its creative possibilities. You can build lots of buildings, dig deep into the earth, plant your own gardens, and eat raw pork. The main part of the game is about survival, but the surviving part is easy – The main draw is doing stuff and surviving whatever it is that you’re doing, whether it be exploring a cave network, building your own version of the Eiffel Tower, or just fiddling around. It’s all wrapped up in a unique (And rather ridiculous) art style and lots of fun for those who enjoy creating stuff and exploration.
There are only a couple of places where the game fails, in my opinion. The first one is technical and mostly me being nit-picky: You should be able to place smaller blocks, so that furniture and stuff is easier to make. The half blocks that are available just don’t do it for me, but I imagine if Notch (The developer) did what I wanted, giving the ability to divide each block into 27 different blocks, the game would be nearly unplayable if some nitwit went out and put those things all over the place, slowing down a game that’s already hard to play on some settings. If you were careful, though, there wouldn’t be too many problems (In my opinion).
The other one is a lack of progress beyond building your first shelter. Sure, you can explore, dig, or build crazy stuff. There’s lots you can do. But I think it’d add a lot to the game if you had some more discovery and growth – Skills that could be improved, ruins you could find, and hostile armies to ward off. I’m sure Notch has a lot planned for the game, but as it is, once you get to a certain point, it stops being so fun.
I still really enjoy it. I tend to go through cycles of play-don’t play, generally on a whim. If you do decide to start playing it, though, don’t expect it to be the Game of the Century – It’s simply a clever, fun little sandbox.
And another game I see bright things for.