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Game Info:

Staxel
Developed By: Plukit
Published By: Humble Bundle
Released: January 23, 2018
Available On: Windows
Genre: Sandbox
ESRB Rating: Pending
Number of Players: 1 offline, online player amount depends on server
Price: $19.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Plukit for sending us this game to review!

Staxel is a game with Minecraft-like graphics designed by Plukit, and the first version was released on January 23, 2018. The game, like Minecraft, lets you create worlds, which are not infinite, but you can adjust the world size. Staxel can never really be beaten - although there is an underlying story, it is very basic. The game has a character creator which lets you adjust different aspects of your character (gender, hair color, eye color, race, etc.) and you can change it at any time from the Character Editor which can be accessed from the pause menu. Each time you create a new world you have to create a new character, however, the starting character is the last one you created.

While the game is like Minecraft, it's different because the developers made it a point to center the game around farming and village life. The graphics aren't quite the same; they're more detailed but still pixelated, and the controls revolve around right click rather than left click. Staxel focuses more on farming and responsibility, while Minecraft focuses more on survival.

Staxel
Highlights:

Strong Points: Presents a farming simulation from the ground up; you can create your own character and customize many aspects of that character;  the villagers have unique personalities; you can perform tasks for them and you can do your own thing with the village if you wish
Weak Points: Village is small; there aren’t many villagers and they seem to be recurring to an extent
Moral Warnings: Some of the outfits available for girl characters are very revealing and a character could technically take off their clothes and run around in their underwear; references to a haunted barn and Magic Water which lets plants grow instantly

After you create your character, you’re greeted by someone named Farm Fan who leads you through the basics of farming and tours the town with you. After touring the town, you get the option of choosing a cat or a dog as a pet, and you take on the responsibility of building a barn and taking care of the animals after turning in a “Farm Registration Letter.” The farm animals do poop, and the game simply calls it “Splat.” The barn needs to be built using materials that are crafted from raw wood which you receive by chopping down trees.

There is, however, a Creative Mode, where you have access to all the items in the game, and it makes it a lot easier to take care of the animals as well as the tasks the villagers want you to complete. The villagers’ tasks may want you to memorize a blueprint, and when you click to memorize it, it simply says, “Blueprint successfully learnt!” and you don’t get to see what the blueprint looks like. Every time you advance in the basic story and/or complete a villager task, in the bottom left corner it says that your journal has been updated. The journal, as far as I can tell, isn't accessible.

Villagers’ houses have wardrobes where you can change outfits using clothes that are in your inventory. Your house has one too, but it’s on a shelf so you can place it wherever you would like. The houses do have toilets, but they are treated like chairs and flush when you leave them. You can go to the town’s general store and purchase supplies that you need if necessary. As you go about your days there is a calendar on the top left showing you the season and day of that season. The game lets you do various activities, like fish or catch bugs, and you need to water your plants or they will not grow. There is, however, Magic Water, which grows a plant instantly, and there is a joke that is mentioned that the barn is haunted, but other than that the game is pretty realistic in its physics and logic.

Staxel
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 91%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 8.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The controls are fairly simple; they are very similar to that of Minecraft and can be customized. There is a control hint screen that can be accessed from the pause menu, and controllers are supported. Most controls are done with right click rather than left click, and, again, this can be customized to fit your playing style.

The music in the game is catchy and comes on at random times (incidentally, the music seemed to start playing at the perfect times). The soundtrack can be bought on Bandcamp for $7 an album (there is a volume 0 and a volume 1). As you move and your perspective changes, the sounds around you distort themselves as if they are changing position.

When you exit the game, there is a window that pops up where you can write feedback or bugs you’ve encountered and send them to the developer. There is a multiplayer feature, and the number of players depends on the amount of players that can be on any given server at one time. The servers are locked with a password, so random people can’t just invade the server and start griefing people, for example. There were players online on the servers, but I couldn't get into the servers due to password lock.

All in all, the game is pretty fun with lots of opportunities available to do your own thing, while keeping a safe environment as you cannot hurt anyone or anything physically. I personally enjoyed it, the story is pretty lenient, allowing plenty of room for the sandbox part of the game to flourish. I would recommend it to everyone who likes Minecraft but is looking for a sandbox alternative.

-Kittycathead

About the Author

Kaitlyn

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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