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Crea Hands On Preview

A fresh -- but unpolished -- take on the procedural crafting genre.

It's a vast world of Minecraft/Terraria clones out there -- a very vast world.  But Crea, currently an early access title, hopes to differentiate itself with a "Talent" system -- RPG-like leveling where you spend points you've earned to level up your abilities.  Unfortunately, technical difficulties and poor controls negate an otherwise original take on an increasingly crowded genre. 

Let's get the most important problem out of the way first: playing a 2D action game with solely the keyboard and mouse is a losing proposition.  Why this game doesn't allow for controller support boggles the mind.  As it is, the controls are inconvenient and terribly imprecise. 

Secondly, the game suffers with common freezing, where everything seems to stop (except for enemy attacks) for a few seconds until the game rights itself.  Keep in mind, this review was prepared with a computer that plays Dragon Age: Inquistion on the high settings. 

Otherwise, the game appears to be luscious.  The music is beautiful, and the environmental designs are nice.  The character designs aren't spectacular, but the monster designs are inventive, and I found sunset to be sublime. 

The RPG system is a great idea, but the result of it is a massive grind.  At the start, I could kill maybe one or two enemies before dying.  So as I progressed through the landscape, I often made little headway before being respawned at the crystal at the beginning of the game.  "Ok," I thought, noticing that I was gaining experience points with fighting, "I'll just up my defense and attack."  That helped a little.  I could now kill two or three enemies before dying. 

As I said, the control is imprecise, and this shows the most in combat.  There's no physical collision between the player and enemies, so they will bounce from one side to the other of you as they attack, and your attacks will miss if facing the wrong side.  There's little feedback from attacks except for the subtraction of hit points, and the enemies are strong.  You may block or attack with the initial weapons in the game, but my character still lost health when I blocked attacks with my shield, so I spent the time attacking instead, leading to some success, but mostly death. 

Crafting is about on par for the rest of these sorts of games.  If you select your mining tool, you can chop at the ground, ores, trees—everything—to harvest various items.  Like the combat, this is very imprecise, and as I was once stuck in a cave, trying to hack myself out, I found certain pieces of ground just wouldn't be destroyed no matter how I aimed at them.  Nothing seemed to differentiate these places from anything else, and thus I remained stuck until I retreated to the way I came. 

The caves are dark, and you  will need torches to light your way, which are created by combining wood with oil.  Everything you can make is a combination of one thing with another, and I imagine it gets fairly complicated after a while, but the poor mining controls and sometimes unresponsive world kind of took the crafting spirit out of me. 

I'm a big believer in early access. I think it's great for indie games to be helped along by the community. Some games are almost completely finished when they can be bought in this state, but others are sort of in need of more work.  I would recommend this game if you like the genre, but don't expect a fully realized work.  If you're looking for something a little more complete and polished, I would instead just play Terraria or Starbound.  



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