Minecraftbut. That's the term that Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Alice O'Connor recently coined (in the same vein as roguelike) to save us all from having to say "It's like Minecraft, but..." one more lousy time. It might just be my favorite piece of gaming shorthand since "Abilitease".
Cubic Castles (a new free-to-play game that you can snag on Steam, the iOS App Store or straight from their website) is one such Minecraftbut, with an emphasis on building, crafting, puzzle platforming, and easily shared massively-multiplayer worlds. The problem with writing about Minecraftbut's is that defining one thing based largely on how it's different from that other thing is a difficult and often unhelpful way to explain any thing. There's a comparison to be made... But it's much better just to see the thing in action for yourself.
With that in mind, I did a dreadfully unprofessional (it's been a loooong week, you guys) stream of Cubic Castles earlier today so I could share the experience with you. Check it out:
The abbreviated version of all this (if you just can't bear my assorted keyboard sounds and connection errors) is that Cubic Castles does a lot of things well, but still bears some room for improvement.
The game's sounds and aesthetic are beyond adorable, and things feel more tactile than you'd expect. It's free-to-play, but the shop is refreshingly non-invasive and downright helpful even if players aren't interested in trading their cash for in-game Cubits. Cubits are naturally occurring, and th shop will let you exchange them for extravagant vanity items or the last few blocks you need to complete your latest project. Exploring others' realms and sharing your own is ridiculously easy, especially considering just how many sandbox games still require complex servers and port-forwarding procedures for anything resembling multiplayer.
Cubic Castles unfortunately doesn't offer players much in the way of technical options, including control over graphics or sound, and the steep angle of the camera can make it hard to build or take pictures. The absence of an in-game crafting recipe guide is another mild annoyance, and frankly the controls don't feel quite as tight as I would like in a game that wants to push its platforming aspect... Though in all fairness I'm not great at platforming under the best circumstances.
All said, there's no harm in checking out Cubic Castles for yourself. It's free, available across several platforms, and pretty darn fun.Tweet
Janine Hawkins (@bleatingheart on Twitter, Iris Ophelia in Second Life) has been writing about virtual worlds and video games for nearly a decade, and has had her work featured on Paste, Kotaku, Jezebel and The Mary Sue.