If you haven’t heard of Core Keeper yet, it’s one of the hottest games on Steam at the moment. Selling over 500K copies in just two weeks, it has definitely picked up some attention. It’s being described as a mix of Terraria, Stardew Valley, and Valheim. Those are some serious names in gaming to be compared to. I remember when Valheim came out a little over a year ago and the hype it brought with it. To say that Core Keeper is on that level of playing field I would disagree with, however, it is still a solid game.
Now the game is still in early access so a lot can happen. For an early access game, it definitely feels clean and polished. I never felt like I was playing a work in progress, it felt like a solid gaming experience. It is simple enough, you start with a wooden workbench that can make you six items. Once you mine enough resources, you can build the next bench which will give you another six things you can craft. I never felt overwhelmed with things to learn or do, because at the moment there is no tutorial, so you have to learn as you go.
One of my favorite things to experiment with was the food. As you explore the world you will find mushrooms and a large variety of other flowers and plants. Once you have crafted a cooking pot you can start mixing things up to make some tasty snacks to help give you buffs in mining, combat, speed, etc., as well as keep the hunger bar full. You can get pretty creative with the recipes and every combination makes something different and unique.
I definitely think this game shines in the multiplayer aspect. You can play with up to eight people in a world. This allows everyone to sorta pick a job and really work together to get a great start. The game also has a points system that’s pretty cool. As you do an action you gain XP and can spend the points to level up in that category. Combat, mining, cooking, running, etc., all have categories to level up. When you first start a new character you also get to choose a background that gives you a few points in something and an item or two. If you have a group to play with and all start at the same time this is a great way for everyone to be good at something and get a great head start with items.
As you play the points will start to level out though. I started as a fighter, but I still had to mine and my mining stats quickly overtook my combat stats. Let’s talk about mining as it’s a core mechanic of the game. You start off in a dirt-filled room with some odd alien-looking stones that say they need power. The first few hours of the game from here will just be exploring the world and mining tunnels all over the underground until you find new materials to build with.
This early stage of the game was great to just kick back and mindlessly mine. It was the time to hop in the discord chat and explore the world while you discover new things and just talk with friends. A great way to spend a Friday night while the other monitor plays those YouTube videos or anime you needed to catch up on. The simplicity was a welcome change from the Elden Ring grind I had been working on and raging over…
But the late game starts to change that. The few biomes in the game started to become a bit too familiar, the enemy’s attack patterns were very predictable, and the backgrounds we all started with were long forgotten as our skill points were becoming blended together and hard to achieve by the late game. It didn’t hold my attention long enough to want to keep the grind up.
Like all exploration sandbox-type games, a lot of the fun is in that first playthrough and early/mid-game content while you are still not sure what’s around the next corner of the tunnel. I believe Core Keeper did well in this area, the late game and replay value just isn’t here yet. Don’t let that stop you from trying it out though! For the $13 price tag you will get a lot of enjoyment out of it I think. I mean you spend that much for a two-hour movie these days. At least you’ll get a solid day’s worth of enjoyment in the game.
To sum up those thoughts I really feel like what the game gives us is great. The content out is solid and enjoyable. I think the problem is the lack of content right now. I’m sure the new updates will bring more to the game and expand on those things. I sure hope to see some exciting new stuff being added that will make me want to keep coming back.
If you need a break from the shooters and hardcore games I would recommend checking this one out. The graphics are great, music relaxing, and a nice little escape that you can find yourself grinding in for hours. Grab that group of friends who love to base build and grind and get to mining! Just be aware it will eventually become repetitive.
I look forward to seeing what else is in store for this game and seeing if it will be a well-remembered title in the constant stream of new games coming out. If you aren’t ready to jump in yet, I would at least bookmark it for later, as it’s not too often Early Access games do so well right off the start.