Game Info:

Solace Crafting
Developed By: Big Kitty Games
Published By: Big Kitty Games
Released: January 16, 2018 (Early Access)
Available On: Linux, Windows
Genre: Role-Playing
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: single-player
Price: $14.99

*Advertising disclosure* - Black Shell Media is a former advertising partner.  This review is not influenced by our former relationship.

Thank you Black Shell Media for sending us a review code!

Solace Crafting is a role-playing crafting game that is currently in Early Access. This one aims to be different from the other crafting and survival-based games out there with a few unique concepts. From the looks of it, Solace Crafting is a fairly ambitious project by a one-man developer. At this time, it has been worked on for over a year but receives constant tweaks and small updates almost every day. Early Access games can be fishy at times due to many factors—burnout, being too ambitious, or wanting to make a quick buck and run with whatever you can get. It may still be in Early Access for quite a while, but I can safely say that the game and the developer, Big Kitty Games, are genuine.

Before being thrown into the world, a character has to be created. The character creator has a good amount of detail and thought put into it. Every aspect is adjusted by a slider and nearly every body part can be altered to your own preference. Being a fantasy world, you can either make your character look like the standard realistic human, take a more fantastic approach and create some sort of fictional creatures like an elf or an orc—or you can humor yourself and create an abomination of nature with truly outlandish proportions. During the creation progress, the option to see your character in specific gear and colors is a nice touch.

After the character creation is the world generation. The world is assigned its own seed number when created. Like the character creator, the world generation has lots of settings that can be tweaked. You have the option to choose how much of the world is covered by terrain such as desert, forest, ocean, or mountain. You can also choose how plentiful or scarce resources are in the world. Enemy occurrence, as well as how much experience it takes to level up, can be modified too. There are plenty of other options to fine-tune; however, some of them are not accessible in the Early Access state.

Every newly created character and world starts off at the solace, and to craft buildings, you’ll need access to the solace—hence, Solace Crafting. The tutorial is displayed as text through objectives and quests so that you can quickly gain a feel for everything. It will explain how to craft materials so you can extract them from the materials in the world, how to build stations so materials can be refined or extracted, and how to used those refined or extracted materials to build better structures, tools, weapons, and even town buildings! Almost everything that can be crafted has a level and tier associated with it. For certain tools, weapons, and armor to be used, you must be the appropriate level to be able to use it. For tiered items, you must have the respective tier of the material at hand so a Tier 2, for example, requires Tier 2 metal to craft.

Solace Crafting

Strong Points: Relaxing; multiple settings that can be adjusted to your liking
Weak Points: Terraforming can be confusing; some control and interface issues
Moral Warnings: Blood is present when enemies are attacked; your character has access to magic; demons can spawn in the world; you can choose to run around in your undergarments, given that you start off with no armor

Everything acts as a means for crafting, from the harvesting of the materials, to the combat. Both harvesting and combat are basic and primitive features. Harvesting is pretty simple. You look at the tree, rock, or ore and if you have the appropriate item, you’ll extract materials from it. Simply harvesting can level up the respective talent, in which you can allocate points to either harvesting speed or more extraction. Combat is similar to MMOs but stripped down to its very basics. You hit things with your weapons and/or abilities, they hit you back, and one of you comes out alive. It mostly exists just for another way to obtain materials, namely light, which is a very important resource for your solace. As of right now, there are four classes that you can spec into, with each class having at least six subclasses greyed out beneath them. Those classes are not accessible at this moment but will be in future updates.

Moving further away from your solace, resources gain higher quality, but enemies also become tougher. You’ll notice after a while that you’ll gain very little to no experience. This acts as an incentive to move out and explore the world. This also acts as a way to obtain higher tier materials. You’ll also notice that objects and enemies will give off a “spotted” aura of sorts. This is to signify that the materials that can be harvested are of a specific rarity type. Green auras indicate uncommon rarity, while red auras indicate legendary rarity. The world seems to expand forever as I have not found any indication of an “end.” As long as you have enough light, you can craft as many solaces as you want and teleport freely to them.

The amount of customization is Solace Crafting’s best aspect. Creating a building that you can call your own is actually pretty simple to do. With the right materials, you can make simple homes to massive castles. Within your solace, you can also create a town, and construct many facilities such as storage areas and blacksmiths to manage your own little town. I really like the aspect that your character has a “wardrobe” slot so armor you find visually appealing but don’t have the best stats can be seen at all times. It’s a very good feature that for some reason very few games have. I can really only think of a handful of games that have this option in the first place.

Of course with Solace Crafting being in Early Access, it's bound to have its issues. The controls aren’t exactly the best and only supports keyboard and mouse at this moment. Opening some menus gives full control of your character, while other menus restrict it—which is rather strange seeing as all aspects of the menu are operated by mouse. Terraforming is also a very confusing process, and unfortunately, the game does very little to explain it. I still don’t fully understand it even after a few hours of trying to mess with it. There is also the fact that Solace Crafting isn’t very visually appealing outside of the buildings. When it isn’t some kind of structure that can be crafted, it’s pretty ugly, especially the “spotted” auras. The sound design also isn’t the best either with only one piece of music available (which is the menu music that sounds like it was made in something like GarageBand) and the sound effects being very amateurish.

Solace Crafting
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 60%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 4/10
Sound - 4/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 80%
Violence - 5.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 7.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

From my experience, bugs aren’t plentiful, but they do exist such as boats randomly sinking and controls sometimes locking up. Also, there are these floating islands that you can warp to. The game really doesn’t like it if you jump from them back to the mainland as I’ve experienced most of them from doing so, such as spawning underground when warping back to your solace.

Solace Crafting isn’t the most morally concerning game out there, although there are some aspects to take note of. Pretty much every enemy bleeds when hit, from the wildlife like pigs, snakes, spiders, and rhinos—to the elemental rock and fire creatures. Magic also exists and your character can use them. Demons can attack your town/solace but are depicted as these smokey floating orbs.

Crafting might be the main reason for Solace Crafting to exist, but I actually ended up enjoying the game on its exploration aspects. I feel that it is a very nice complementary game. I mean that as a type of game you would play while doing something else like listening to a podcast or music and I found it to be very relaxing. It’s pretty easy to lose track of time as I played for six hours my first time around and only noticed because Steam told me so. It's in Early Access so right now if you buy it, you’re buying into an “alpha” instead of a finished or realized product. You’ll get to see and experience firsthand the development of a video game and if you like crafting-based RPGs while seeing an idea come into fruition, I’m sure you’ll get a lot of mileage from this one. It might be ugly both visually and aurally, and some mechanics are extremely basic, but Big Kitty Games is serious about this one—with plans to add multiplayer down the road. The developer grants you a lot of freedom and choice. Reported bugs are fixed in a quick amount of time, updates are constantly rolled out, and the developer is responsive and goes into detail about what he or she fixes. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what Solace Crafting becomes when it releases.

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Cinque Pierre

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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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