I know, I shouldn’t write a game review of a game not yet released, but Minecraft is simply sucking way too much of my time that I need to explain why. So here is a preview of Minecraft in its alpha stage. Because I can’t do a review of it yet…
The game, made in java, works on all major operating systems: Windows, Mac OS and Linux. I run it under Linux myself and I haven’t encountered any technical problems so far. The game is pretty simple, contains really low graphics, 16 bit textures actually, and it doesn’t have any complex animations. Quite different from what most people are used to these days, but Minecraft’s charms are not about how it looks, but how it plays.
The game comes with 2 modes, one called classic, free on the official website, which allows the player to build anything she fancies, using different blocks. Some people already replicated quite a few things already like the whole planet Earth or Minas Tirith from the Lord of The Ring movies.
The other gameplay mode is called Survival and this is what the alpha is all about. Survival is what people call a sandbox game. You are left alone, or with a friend when playing on a multiplayer server, to fend for yourself in a randomly generated worlds made of trees, mountains, islands and snow. The first time you appear in the world you will have to create tools out of woods and stone, build a houses to protect yourself from the nightly monsters (unless you play on peaceful) and start excavating to find ores. Once you are fully prepared you can then go adventuring to find dungeons and hidden chests, while defeating monsters and avoiding lava. Every generated Survival map will be different, offering endless different adventures for people with imagination, because Minecraft Alpha has no story, the players create their own stories by their actions.
Survival is where Minecraft really shines. The sound effects in the games are immersive and you get scared when hearing a zombie while deep underground surrendered by stones. The use of materials to create tools is also well done and allows the player to create a lots of things, like a house made of glass or a tree house. The game also has a system of electric circuits with Redstone dust, that allows automation of a few things like doors or traps for monsters. The main activity in the game is mining, because you need to find those ore blocks to get better tools and enough cobblestone to make an awesome looking castle on the surface, unless underground wonders are what you are after.
The game also has quite a following right now and a strong community. There are already quite a few texture packs and utilities available, including backup tools and a cartographer. The community is also offering quite a few suggestions to the author of the game for the future release.