I spent the last two days playing (sadly two) different games of Craft the World – my favorite dwarf building game…yes – that means I have more than one. Dwarf building games seems to be one of those popular niche markets: Craft the World, Dwarfs!?, A Game of Dwarves, Dwarf Fortress…Gnomoria is an outlier since those are clearly gnomes and not dwarves.
I know I’ve reviewed Craft the World before (two years ago was my first review and then again just over a year ago) but it’s been updated since then. Also I’ve only ever played campaign in the forest. I noticed on my iToy two nights ago that there was a “Underground” world setting. Plus I could try playing on sandbox rather than campaign with the tech tree limiting my technologies. I hit play.
This game is definitely designed with mobile in mind and the tedious dragging items to the crafting bench interface doesn’t make my head ache the way it does on my PC. But overall I had no difficulty and noticed that the PC version appears to have installed multiplayer-multiworld aspect…or rather I found the blueprints for some multiplayer portals and a spell – I’ll have to try that out, maybe in a year?
Anyway – the underground sandbox version of the game is pretty straight forward.
- Order your dwarf to chop down mushroom – note these are very springy and will resist the hand axe for a long time but eventually they do come down.
- Get your second dwarf – Ah! leveling, with each level you gain a dwarf. The first levels take no time at all to complete.
And really that’s all you need to play. In the campaign version of the game you slowly unlock the technology in a family tree-structure. Build enough in the simple wood category and you’ll unlock planks. That means you can now unlock bookscases and beds which use planks. But it means a bit of grinding as you make things you don’t need just to unlock the next level. (Unless that’s changed in the past year).
Sandbox here doesn’t mean you can build everything from the beginning, instead as your dwarves dig you uncover scrolls with recipes on. So you might unlock Silver Armor before you even finish unlocking Iron Armor requirements and never be able to make the armor. I still can’t make anything but silver helms or wooden ones as I haven’t found the recipe for leather helms and had to wait until I unlocked silver-smithing to get anything but the most basic helmets.
It makes for some interesting limits. In my first game (iToy) the dwarves were pretty happy and had a variety of mushroom based foods to eat before we managed to unlock the kitchen to make proper meals. In my second game, my poor dwarves were practically starving themselves since mushroom salad was the only food I could make them and they were sick and tired of it. I also ended up going on the wiki and cheating the recipe for a bucket and nails. Without those two items, I couldn’t make half the things I’d unlocked…like the kitchen or finally the mushroom soup that they were craving.
Underground gives the game quite a different feel, there’s these floating islands that I go to to harvest eggs from the flying octopuses and gather mushrooms and trees. You have the portal spell right away and a quick portal means I don’t have to build a ladder up. I notice underground, wood is a LOT more precious.
Also, since I had no idea when I would unlock doors or hatches, I sealed my dwarves into their homes (both times) and just portaled out whenever I needed non-underground resources. I’ll probably do this in the next campaign game as well since I like how secure my home felt. My first set of dwarves were pretty lucky and after 3 hours of game play I got pretty far.
Then I flipped to my PC and played for 7 hours…yes, I am insane. These dwarves were a little less lucky. I mentioned the mushroom salad fiasco, we also had underground goblins attacking us from almost day one. But you can get pretty far in 7 hours. We destroyed three underground goblin camps which mean a lot of wood and fabric.
We managed to get all our dwarves in chitin armor and armed with goblin weapons which are much better than the clubs…the only actual weapon recipe I’ve found so far. Now we’re working to prettify and shore up our house.
Underground there are two time-based threats.
- Waves of monsters
- Ancient God
The Waves of monsters are just like in the overworld, a portal opens and more and more monsters spill out to attack your home, every half hour or forty-five minutes. For most of my seven hour play through (and all of the three-hour one) this was a non-issue. They never even found my home much less broke through before they despawned. Now, however, they’re breaking through every time – perhaps because my home is more noticable? Luckily we’re well armed so they haven’t managed to kill us yet.
The Ancient God is, I think, unique to the Underworld setting. There’s an old goblin who guards a shrine and ever so often, he summons the god.
You leave offerings on the alter. The first time I accidentally clicked on it with a torch and ended up offering one of my four precious torches! No take-backs. Basically though you add as much as you feel like to the alter – it does changes from red to blue to let you know you’re on track and when the god appears he either accepts your gives and leaves valuables and spawns mushrooms and monkey things or he refuses (sometimes even when it’s blue) and leaves a barren sandy wasteland behind.
He was pretty close to my spawn point in the iToy game, but a lot more comfortably placed in my PC game so while I kept and eye on him, I really didn’t worry about his anger destroying what I was building.
Underground goblins are another issue underground as well as the normal monsters. They will dig to find you and build up.
But once you destroy the spawner-huts the areas are a very nice addition to your base. Often with woolly caterpillars already captured so you just need to make scissors and you will never want for string. String was a major bane of my previous games. All the cool things (like wooden armor) use it.
One nice thing the PC game has is the little “world” map in the bottom right corner so you know how far you’ve come and what more you have to explore. Plus you can click on it to jump to a location. The little green dots tell you where your dwarves are so you know if there’s something weird going on. That’s in addition to the alerts on the upper right “Dwarves hungry” “You are under attack!!” “Shelter walls broken” – that kind of thing and you can click on the alert to go to the trouble spot. I find with more dwarves I rely more on these messages and just let them go on their merry way. Since when the teleport spell ends they have a long trek back to base.
I’m going to resist playing more, but I’ve got my next adventure all planned. Defeat the portal knight. We’re gonna sneak in the back way after we have a small snack.