It’s a strange thing, this outer space. Somewhere out there, on unknown planets with rosewood, experienced astronauts armed with laser and plasma weapons, build wooden huts to escape the murderous slugs that carry medi-kits and tech specs of new, but absolutely rusty, weapons in their stomachs. Said weapons however, will shoot better than the plasma gun and ammunition that can be made out of the same rosewood. A strange, strange place, this “deep space” – thank you, developers of BitMonster, Inc., for warning us, the potential explorers. So, in order to conquer the planet, we’re going to need: an old gun, a carpenter’s plane, a chisel and a tool that can collect both trees and ore. Now we are certainly ready.
“GRAV” isn’t a game for everyone. There is no plot, just the bare gameplay, which is still in Early Access, and judging by the menu only, in alpha testing. However, this game, like “Rust” before it, shows some potential, but only because of its futuristic appearance. The game’s entire point: play as an astronaut who needs to survive, level up, build a house, deploy the equipment, and so on.
The graphics are very reminiscing of the coming “No Man’s Sky”, but both the graphics and the open world are not the point. It’s impossible to fly from planet to planet here, but within a vast land map we can do anything: build, kill, extract minerals and … start all over again. In between, you have to drive other players away from your base and go visit caves where there are monsters and bosses.
Each campaign is a dance on a field strewn with rakes. Monster re-spawn is lightning-fast: before you even managed to kill the mob, it has re-appeared behind you and has invited friends. Every battle is unpredictable, because all the creatures here appear out of thin air, and sometimes just a step away from the player. And to overcome the medium-level bosses you have to become ten times stronger, simply because to kill these guys you need new weapons and armour. These weapons can only be obtained by killing weaker enemies and getting them to drop some tech specs. To use the new specs, you need to upgrade the base. To upgrade the base you need to find all the necessary resources, some of which can only be found in caves with said first enemies. A vicious circle, which is accompanied by a string of deaths.
However, if there is good company and a lot of time, such a process will not bring many problems, but will also bring fun. The two (three, four, ten, etc.) players can cut wood, and it’s a lot more fun to pick out stones from the mountain together than alone. It’ll take a long time to crawl across the planet, so it will be very good if at least someone supports you in this. In the end, if you play together on the same territory and the same server, these friends will help keep your den intact while you’re not in the game, and give you a couple of handkerchiefs, if any other players smash your cosy den (which you spent 15 hours building), or maybe simply sullied your favourite fresh meadow.
By the way, even crafting can take much longer without friends. Simply because most of the time isn’t taken up by crafting itself, but by the search for resources. Reaching a forest to chop 300 pieces of wood – 30-40 minutes. Digging stones – twice as much. At the same time you won’t be able to do much with it, and after two or three minutes spent on construction and creation of ammunition, you will need to go back to mining resources. And this is just base craft, for more complex things you’d need to kill 5-6 times more time, and that’s not counting the aforementioned production tech specs. So you can solo “GRAV” only if you have no personal life or if you’re a very stubborn person, and to everyone else I recommend creating a team immediately. There isn’t really any other way around it. Yes, the game has a single player mode, but it’s too sad and lonely there, even to consider running it.
Of course, I would now still name a bunch of cons in “GRAV”, including all sorts of graphics and technical bugs, but since the project is still undergoing alpha testing, I won’t say a word. We must wait and see what happens in the end. So far, the game looks like a visually simple simulation of a resource-gatherer and not a simulator of an astronaut who goes on tree bark hunts, carrying a club for slugs. The project has promise and a future, but what it will consist of when it gets “older” is not very clear. It’s not immediately repulsive which is good for such an indie, and it requires teamwork – that, too, is a plus. So it should turn out to be at least ‘good’.
A big world, full of discoveries
Extensive crafting: from clothing and weapons to buildings and transport
Some game elements reminiscent of a full-fledged MMO
Any third-party player can ruin everything you’ve done, and with much less effort
The game requires a lot of free time and is at the same time devoid of purpose