Posted: June 7, 2014
Early Access Review
Crea is another entry in the recently extremely popular 2D Sandbox genre. However, Crea is unique in that it acknowledges the roots of all this popularity, Terraria, and tries to build off of that with unique new mechanics while still trying to retain that core gameplay that we all know and love (or don't; it's all up to personal preference of course).
For those who may not be familiar with the genre, Crea plays like most other 2D Sandbox RPG sort of games. You walk around a randomly-generated landscape, clicking on blocks to collect them, killing enemies along the way. As you gather more varied and rare materials, you are able to craft various items, including weapons, armor, furniture, tools, and a few other miscellaneous items. To be able to learn how to craft most of the items however, utilizing the research system is necessary. To research more advanced crafting recipes, you need to use a small quantity of each material you find to discover what uses you can make of them. This system was pretty neat in my opinion and I would love to see it become a staple of the genre.
There are essentially three different ways of dealing with enemies in Crea: melee weaponry, ranged weaponry, and magic. Personally, I love using magic to sit back and pick off enemies from a distance, There isn't a large selection of magic or weapons, but there's still an adequate variety of them to dispose of any monsters in your path. There are also "Divine" spells that help to assist you with positive buffs or give some well-needed healing in dire situations.
From a glance, Crea seems to be actually almost a direct rip-off of Terraria, just with a somewhat different art style. This isn't really true though, as Crea includes some great new additions to the typical 2D Sandbox game formula. To start with, Crea includes the usual gear-based progression system of acquiring new, more powerful weapons, tools, and armor as you acquire better, more valuable materials. Something possibly unique to Crea is its "talent system", where as you engage in combat, use spells, craft items, or research recipes you gain "TP", which can be used to boost each of the previously mentioned areas a bit. The more that you mine for example, the more TP you are able to gain to potentially make mining just a tad quicker. One thing that did bug me a bit when I had first started was that mining seemed to take quite some time, but after I crafted a snazzy new pickaxe and upgraded my mining talents things went much smoother.
One very unique aspect of Crea is the "conflict" system in place. If you don't actively slay monsters, they will continue to grow in strength and numbers throughout the world. This was very noticeable when I had played, as I immediately went on multiple mining expeditions early on and never really fought monsters above the ground until I had the gear that I wanted. When I finally had crafted all the gear that I wanted to take on (supposedly) anything in my path, I discovered that when I came back to the surface new "Paragon" enemies that were larger and more deadly than the previous enemies had appeared and were proceeding to kick my ♥♥♥♥. Monster spawners had also appeared quite rapidly throughout my world, and these were generating more and more monsters to add to my growing problem. This system is quite cool in my opinion, as it creates a unique conflict for the player personally- do you sit safely in comfort and idly gather more materials, or do you engage the problem at hand before it becomes harder and harder for you to safely stroll out in the world? In addition, monsters actively level up as you do, so there's never really an overly easy battle in Crea. Bosses are also in the game I've heard, though I have not encountered any in my time playing so far.
A fast-travel system is additionally in place in Crea. As you explore your randomly-generated world, you are able to find Way Crystals that allow you to travel immediately to another crystal in the world that you've already found. These Way Crystals can also be found underground, which is convenient if you're able to find one while mining deep below the surface and want to quickly travel between your home and your mining area.
Two features of Crea that I didn't delve very much into are multiplayer, which is supposedly new and thus has some early issues, and the extensive modding support the game includes. I did join one multiplayer server I had found from someone who left their IP address on the forums, and it was a bit of fun, but the multiplayer system did seem to be in its early stages for sure and there was a few small problems. The game currently is still in Early Access of course, so there's plenty of time for it to be cleaned up a bit more. I would like to see player names not just in the chat, but also above the players or maybe if you hover your mouse over them, and perhaps a basic server browser for those of us who may not have friends who also own the game or want to go hunting for public server IP addresses. Concerning the modding support in place, I honestly haven't delved into it much so far, but glancing at the forums on the developer's site, they seem to be very active in assisting any players wishing to create mods for Crea, and the system in place seems to be fairly easy to make mods to do nearly anything in the game. So far, no major mods seem to be out yet, but as the game is still fairly new hopefully fairly interesting mods are released.
The sound design of Crea doesn't seem to be a major focus, so there's not much to say about it. The sound effects are basic, but they work. While not overly prevalent, the music featured in Crea is alright. I would prefer to be listening to more active tunes, but the current set of peaceful, calming music is still pleasant to listen to.
Graphically, Crea features pixel sprites very akin to that of Terraria or Starbound, but with a slightly more fantasy theme. Two things in particular stand out, to me at least: the designs of the monsters and the backgrounds when above the surface. The monsters all have a fairly unique look to them- to the degree that it's difficult to relate most of them to something we're familiar with. Sure, there's some scorpions, sheep (called "speep" in the game), and birds, but also some very unusual bird-like creatures, rodents, sinister slimes, and even odder things deep beneath the surface. Most of the monsters seem to fit in perfectly with the fantasy theme of the game, and it helps to increase immersion for sure. Now, while not overly incredible, the backgrounds as you move from biome to biome above the surface are pretty to look at, and help to differentiate different biomes as they gradually change to a new background as you move from left to right or vice versa.
While others may argue which is the best of the 2D sandbox genre, it's important to note that most of the games are still in-development and can't be fairly judged. Crea is likely one of the youngest games in the genre, and so it's difficult to fairly assess it in its current state. As it is, I really did enjoy my time with Crea. I was able to build a small home after a few hours of mining. I had fun with defeating monsters of varying strengths and sizes, and exploring the vast world I was in. I don't think that I've even begun to dig deep into the amount of content Crea has to offer, and thus I'm not if I can safely say how much I might potentially enjoy it.
The game is also still in Early Access as I write this, so the amount of content and features that are in the game currently can only increase as time goes on. The developers are extremely active, and seem to have a great knack for talking with the community very often and answering any questions people may have on the forums. This is a game with a lot of heart and soul put into it, and so it appears that any issues the game might have will quickly be ironed out.
I give Crea a 8.5/10 in its current state.