App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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I'm fairly positive that there isn't a single individual who plays video games regularly who isn't aware of the phenomena that is Minecraft. Since gaining astronomical popularity among virtually everyone in the industry, this mother of all sandbox games has gone through numerous iterations that have added everything from doors to randomly generated dungeons. And it's still in beta. Of course, with all that attention comes heaps of "the sincerest form of flattery." In which case, Crafted is a regular Cyrano De Bergerac.
Basically, Crafted is Minecraft sans a few of the more recent additions. In 2D. Almost everything present in the most popular video game of all time is here, too. Players begin their adventure in a procedurally-generated world, then go out and do whatever they feel like. As they gather materials they can tools, which in-turn will aid in gathering better materials, etc... If they get sick of building a house, they can mine. If they don't want to mine, they can explore. If that sounds boring, they can hunt. The list goes on...
Hours will easily melt away while playing Crafted. Much of the game (read: all of the game) is self-directed, so it's easy to break away from one task to pursue another at a moment's notice. It's also incredibly easy to say "I'll go back and craft once I finish digging out this vein of minerals," only to notice a new patch just outside of a torch's light. Thus prompting further exploration. Conversely, I've gone back to the surface in order to make an honest-to-goodness house (instead of a literal hole in the ground) and found myself spending way too much time agonizing over layouts and placements. It's a never-ending cycle, and one that I couldn't be happier to find myself stuck in.
The biggest downside to all this is that it's so much like Minecraft it's distracting. The textures, sounds, characters - even the UI - seem to have been ripped straight from the source. The developer says everything was recreated pixel-by-pixel, which I think is true, but the artwork is still a direct copy. Rumor has it that the graphics will be getting replaced in a future update, but for now it's hard not to look at Crafted and want to cry foul. Aside from that, the controls take some getting used to, and the block placement is a little touchy, but it works well all things considered.
I find myself conflicted about Crafted. On the one hand it's more than a little questionable, what with the "almost-copied" everything. On the other, being in 2D does make it feel significantly different. But if the more than obvious inspiration weren't a factor then this would be an easy recommendation. Taken on its own merits, Crafted is an amazing open-world sandbox experience. One that's infinitely re-playable and beyond worth the $1 asking price.