LifeisXbox’s Core Keeper preview | Lately it’s been an almost yearly occurrence that an indie title of the procedurally generated survival crafter genre silently hits the online storefronts and after a quiet release takes off massively. For example, you need only look at the waves Valheim had already made this time last year. It’s here that I’d be willing to place a modest bet that Pugstorm’s Core Keeper is a good contender for that spot when we’ll look back on 2022’s releases.
ℹ️ Previewed on PC | Preview code provided by PR/publisher, this preview is the personal opinion from the writer and is based on an unfinished game.
I mentioned earlier that Core Keeper is a procedurally generated survival crafter, which is quite the mouthful. So let’s break that down a bit into its components. The world the game is set in is procedurally generated. Not only is that great for replayability, but you can also fully modify it to your needs. Kind of essential that you’re able to dig into and replace the walls of a cave, I know. But that’s not all, you can also dig up the floor, run canals, build bridges and place floor tiles. This leads nicely to the survival aspect of Core Keeper since you’ll be changing up the caves a lot to shape yourself a base of operations. Besides organising your own base layout with dedicated or general-purpose rooms, you can make guest rooms for encountered merchants to stay in. You’ll also want to build a nice bit of farmland to grow crops on. That’s where those canals I mentioned earlier come into play, as you will want water close at hand when watering loads of crops.
Of Shovel and Sword
You won’t want to sleep on that farming, for a hungry belly awaits if you do. Following it up with the survival aspects of Core Keeper. These come in the form of staving off your hunger on the one hand and fighting enemies and bosses to power the mysterious core you’re Keeping. So once you have your crops, there are two paths ahead of you. One is to just bite down on the raw food, buffing up your hunger bar, while another is to take your ingredients to a cooking pot to make a variety of meals. Mushroom wraps, Berry pudding, bioluminescent salads and much more are on the menu if you’ve got the ingredients. Then you’ve also got the combat. I find it to be quite simple on the surface because I didn’t do too much combat. Sure, I ventured out and encountered a good helping of slimes and even some bugs on my run, but I know there’s more out there. It’s a big cave after all. I did find and fight the humongous slime, one of the three bosses currently in the game, and will be looking for the others. My trusty copper sword survived, as did my copper chest and greaves, but my farmer’s hat which I looted off a mob didn’t make it.
A lot of potential
While writing this preview I did notice there was a lot of late and even mid-game content I hadn’t reached yet. Automatic miners, conveyor systems with logic gates, fishing, higher tiers of gear, vaults with trinkets of a long-dead civilization, a handful of biomes, the list goes on… It’s a bit of a sign of how much Core Keeper already has to offer, and this is sure to only expand from here on. One thing I would certainly love to see is some tutorials or tips surrounding the starting mechanics. I’d gone a good hour before I bumped into my first mob, and was unaware they are a good source for seeds to plant for food. Or maybe some tweaks in the world generation that place a pocket of basic slimes close to the spawn room.
Pugstorm has hit the mark with Core Keeper. An easy to pick up survival crafter that has a good amount of depth to it. With its simple and charming pixel art style comes a gentle and active track filled with cave sounds. Going at it alone was already fun, so I can only guess what it must be like with up to 8 players all at once. In case you’ve got a shiny new Steamdeck coming, Core Keeper recently got certified for that, meaning you can take the entire experience with you wherever. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
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Hey there. Thomas is the name, Sci-fi, action and (J)RPG’s are the game. I strongly prefer co-op over PVP games. Whenever possible, you may find me run wild at a convention in western Europe. Certified anime enjoyer.