Published on June 30th, 2011 | by Derek Strickland, Contributor
Total Miner: Forge Xbox Indie Review
Platform: Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Indie Games)
Price: 240 MSP ($3)
Developer: Greenstone Games
Total Miner: Forge is a sandbox Indie release with aspects of creation, survival, combat, exploration and is a mashup of many genres and game types. With a first-person view and volumetric pixel (voxel) graphics in the vein of Minecraft, this title has been called one of the closest games that players can find to a “Minecraft for Xbox 360,” yet there are many elements and aspects that are lacking in this first release. To rectify what is lacking, Greenstone Games is currently working on a smattering of updates and patches to provide additional content to the release.
Released only six days ago, Total Miner: Forge has made quite a stir in the Xbox Indies Community, rising to the Top Rated and Daily Bestselling lists within a short span of time. Already the title has 2,432 Ratings with a solid four and a quarter stars and is still climbing in ratings and sales everyday.
Total Miner: Forge is all about freedom, allowing players to do what they like with their own virtual worlds. Stylized in the appealing voxel graphics made famous by PC Indies such as Infiniminer, Dwarf Fortress, and the all-time mega-popular Minecraft, the game captures the endearing cubic block style that allows players to build whatever they can imagine with ease.
The graphics themselves are wholly entertaining–this Indie contains the same low-res graphics that have been staple aspects of the PC juggernaut Minecraft. The voxel graphics and visuals add a sense of nostalgia to gameplay, bringing players back to an early age of gaming where low-res sprites and pixels ruled the industry. Everything is pixellated and formed out of blocks; the trees, the clouds, the bodies of water, hills and even the rocky earth with molten lava at it’s heart.
There are two main modes of play in the first version of Total Miner: Forge—Creative, where players can build and construct anything with adequate blocks and equipment, and Dig Deep, a mode inspired from the Xbox Indie Miner Dig Deep. In either game mode players are free to do many things at any time.
This Xbox Indie block-builder also has it’s own physics system that affects players and dropped items. Gravity is reflected quite well, and if players fall from high cliffs, an appropriate amount of health is subtracted from the fall damage. Water has it’s own physics properties in this game as well: while underwater players can jump nearly double the height, making panicked dashes to the surface much easier. While underwater players have a separate “Air” meter, and when its drained players start to quickly lose health.
Players can find blueprints to craft very useful tools and objects at workbenches, from pickaxes and swords to chests and ladders. To build the adequate object players must first find the appropriate blueprint to “unlock” the item in the crafting list.
Players can also smelt objects in furnaces, another object that’s craftable via a workbench. Players are guided to blueprints by the little blue arrow on the lower left-hand side of the screen, yet there is no concise order in which the blueprints are found–the arrow simply responds to a player’s proximity to the nearest blueprint.
Dying in this game is quite cruel as the player’s whole inventory is wiped (except for irreplaceable items like Store blocks), so it’s best to store valuables, tools and precious stones in Chests, or even drop them on the ground. Yet according to a tip on the loading screen, “if you die, your items will remain there for 10 minutes“. This adds a bit of forgiveness to the game, as death can happen at any time. If players get too overwhelmed and frustrated they can actually change the Game Difficulty to “Peaceful” where players don’t have health and are immortal.
There are many dangers in Total Miner: Forge: creatures like spiders to fight in combat or cave-ins and earthquakes that seem to happen when a player goes idle while deep underground. These cave-ins and tremors can not only kill players, but they can destroy paths and block ladders to trap players in the darkness, making them mine their way out.
Prospect new blocks before mining them, some veins and ores are strong and required specialized tools such as iron-tipped pickaxes. Use a variety of tools for a variety of jobs–spades for digging, pickaxes for mining blocks, and weapons for combat.
There are a variety of craftable items available for creation using a workbench including Ladders, weapons, pickaxes and other useful tools and items. Fashion wooden planks from lumber, whittle sticks from those very planks, and then transform them into other objects like torches to light up deep dark caves.
One of the most unique elements of this game is that everything is portable. Anything in the game–whether it’s a precious ore block or a flower, is portable and can be picked up and dropped anywhere in the interactive environment. This means that players can carry around the Store block–which is quite important as it’s the only way to buy and sell items and blocks–with them when they go adventuring or drop it in a precise location.
Another unique element of this title is the freedom of being able to build whatever player’s like–they’re limited only to their imagination…well and to their gold. Build a whole medieval city in the style of Hyrule Castle, or make random crazy objects that float in the sky. Spell out your name in blocks or create your own favorite game characters using the assortment of colored blocks–the choise is yours!
Overall Total Miner: Forge has a certain charm that doesn’t wear off, and there’s always something to find and depths to explore in this block-building adventure. Players are free to choose what they’d like to do in this open-world title–craft items, prospect and collect a variety of blocks, or build an entire world customized and tailored to your personal tastes.
Share your own user-created worlds with friends and other players on Xbox Live, and find new worlds to explore from others as well. Total Miner: Forge is also planned to receive many new updates that will add new features to the game to keep it fresh and expand the enjoyable adventure that this game offers.
+ Enjoyable block-building customization
+ Unique in-game minimap interface
+ Craft, build, construct and fight–the choice is yours
+ Endearing voxel-style graphics
+ Infinitely replayable
+ Many future updates planned
+ Interactive open-world environment
– Not many RPG elements included
– Requires hours of grinding & mining
– Less of a social experience than Minecraft or FortressCraft