CastleMiner Z review | PCGamesN

Galactic Civilization 3's beta 5 update adds space bugs from the future and pirates

Tights at the ready: Infinite Crisis launches on Steam

Codemasters announce F1 2015, throw-in the 2014 season... almost like F1 2014 never happened

CastleMiner Z

CastleMiner Z review

CastleMiner Z zombies

If you’re a smart phone user you’re likely used to the relentless lists of copycat games listed on app stores that come hot on the heels of an Angry Birds-like phenomena, seeking to replicate such success. It’s that exact kind of spirit we find in CastleMiner Z, a block building survival horror. A cheap, barely-inspired Minecraft-a-like, it’s a deep insult to the creativity so ingrained in the sandbox genre. 

It would be incorrect to say that CastleMiner Z is entirely just plagiarism, but ‘strongly inspired’ by Minecraft would be an overly fair description. To its credit CastleMiner Z tries to innovate and expand on its muse, taking a block building world and peppering it with a flimsy attempt at horror. At night, zombies prowl the mountains and dragons haunt the skies. 

CastleMiner Z dragon

From the outset you’re armed to take on these threats. “Minecraft with guns” is probably what the original design brief said, and that would be pretty accurate of the end product. It’s all back-of-the-box bullet points though; CastleMiner Z’s shooting is flat and lacking impact, even when you’ve managed to craft its laser guns and sniper rifles. Perhaps this wouldn’t be a deal breaker if the core of the game worked solidly, but the mining and building elements are a shallow shadow of Mojang’s beast, with just a handful of different materials to excavate and a basic crafting menu that makes heavy use of identical items built from higher tier materials. 

Weapons make up the vast bulk of your crafting options, and are vital in enduring the game’s Survival mode. Zombies sprint and relentlessly dive at you, their shrieks signalling that the long, arduous night has begun. In the starting zone they can be dispatched pretty easily, but the further you travel from spawn the beefier they get, as designated by different coloured character models. Difficulty is purely based on increasing hitpoints and increasing gang sizes, their AI being just a few IQ points behind those headless bombers from Serious Sam. 

In its brightest moments, CastleMiner Z can use its zombies to amusing effect. They can break down defences, and hiding in a hut as ten of them wail and scrape at the walls evokes horror comedies. Far from chilling, but there’s some very limited fun to be had with them. 

CastleMiner Z laser assault rifle

Enemies are made up from relatively detailed polygonal models which sit in stark contrast to the voxel-built, blocky world. Player characters and equipment have similarly smooth models, creating an inconsistent aesthetic that makes it look every bit the cheap knocked-together project it is.  

The world is a soulless place, lacking in any interesting geography or life beyond the scuttling undead. The land changes based upon how far from spawn you are, starting as a green forested area and changing into a desert, frozen tundra, and steep mountain range as you put more distance behind you. The desert is one notably horrific zone, containing nothing but flat planes of useless sand for hundreds of meters. 

You can add life to the world by engaging in multiplayer, but servers are limited to a mere eight players. Any of the game’s modes can be turned into multiplayer arenas, allowing groups to tackle a large project in Create mode, or fend off attackers in Endurance or Survival modes. There’s a text chat to help coordinate your buddies, but no voice: clearly a hangover from its origin on Xbox 360. 

CastleMiner Z crafting inventory

That’s not the only problem that has come with porting CastleMiner Z from console to PC. There’s been no care or effort put into any element of this game, and it shows everywhere. It’s in the UI that still uses Xbox controller icons for button prompts, the clunky, scrolling crafting inventory, and the complete lack of resolution and graphical settings. You even have to use ALT+F4 to escape the damn thing. This isn’t a PC port made with love. It’s simply an attempt to make more money by jamming it into Steam with a complete lack of finesse. 

Money really is the sore point when it comes to CastleMiner Z too. On Steam, it retails for £6.99. Yet on Xbox Live Arcade, you can pick it up for 69p. That’s not even discounted. Selling at mobile gaming prices, you can understand how CastleMiner Z has topped the indie XBLA charts and sold over a million copies. But at an over-inflated ten times the price on PC, this is an act of inexcusable greed.

Minecraft is beloved because it’s a celebration of creativity. CastleMiner Z is the antithesis of Minecraft: it’s a depressing, cynical cash-grab almost wholly designed to hijack gamers’ excitement for Mojang. For 69p, its survival horror elements are a nonsense novelty. But at the price demanded on PC, we should be throwing it out to the creepers. 

2/10

Login or Register
1
+1
-0
Shriven's picture
2180

£6.99. ..

Try these free to play games
?

These are affiliate links - clicking them and playing the games directly supports PCGamesN

Spotlight
?

Our Spotlight units plug content our journalists have made, that our advertisers want to promote. Sometimes the promotion is paid for, but the content they go to is always independent with no client oversight or approval.


Alienware - Game VictoriousTurtle Beach
Alienware Alpha review: why you should wait for the real Steam Machine

Alienware alpha

Alienware Alpha review: why you should wait for the real Steam Machine

Hands on with the Dirty Bomb closed beta

Dirty Bomb

Hands on with the Dirty Bomb closed beta

Pillars of Eternity review

Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity review

Evolve's Behemoth monster adds some rock and roll to the hunt

Evolve

Evolve's Behemoth monster adds some rock and roll to the hunt

Distant terror in Noct, Devolver's creepy top-down shooter

Noct

Distant terror in Noct, Devolver's creepy top-down shooter

Topic of the Week: What game would you use to introduce someone to PC gaming?

Topic of the Week

Topic of the Week: What game would you use to introduce someone to PC gaming?

We've got 500 Stronghold Crusader 2 DLC keys in Castle PCGamesN, and we're giving them away

Stronghold Crusader 2

We've got 500 Stronghold Crusader 2 DLC keys in Castle PCGamesN, and we're giving them away

Making it in Unreal: meet AIPD - a Geometry Wars genremate with 100,000 possible modes

AIPD

Making it in Unreal: meet AIPD - a Geometry Wars genremate with 100,000 possible modes

Eve: Valkyrie hands-on: how it's changed

EVE Valkyrie

Eve: Valkyrie hands-on: how it's changed

Weekend Deal Dump: Bundles, as far as the eye can see

Weekend Deal Dump

Weekend Deal Dump: Bundles, as far as the eye can see

Dust 514 developers talk Project Legion:

Project Legion

Dust 514 developers talk Project Legion: "New Eden deserves a PC shooter"

Battlefield Hardline PC review

Battlefield Hardline

Battlefield Hardline PC review

Competition: We’ve two bundles of Fury goodies to give away to World of Tanks fans

World of Tanks

Competition: We’ve two bundles of Fury goodies to give away to World of Tanks fans

Gigantic is the genre-breaking shooter you'd expect from the designer of StarCraft and Guild Wars

Gigantic

Gigantic is the genre-breaking shooter you'd expect from the designer of StarCraft and Guild Wars

Hearthstone's director discusses Blackrock Mountain dragon cards, and why Blizzard won't nerf Dr. Boom

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone's director discusses Blackrock Mountain dragon cards, and why Blizzard won't nerf Dr. Boom

We're giving away £2000 worth of games right now

Bundle Stars

We're giving away £2000 worth of games right now

We Happy Few looks great, but is open-world survival getting stale?

We Happy Few

We Happy Few looks great, but is open-world survival getting stale?

Tales from the Borderlands PC review

Tales from the Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands PC review

Topic of the Week: Do you have time for 100-hour games?

Topic of the Week

Topic of the Week: Do you have time for 100-hour games?

Frame-by-frame slaughter in Ronin, an indie stealth action game

Ronin

Frame-by-frame slaughter in Ronin, an indie stealth action game

Gratuitous Space Battles 2: You can fill space with searing neon death

Gratuitous Space Battles 2

Gratuitous Space Battles 2: You can fill space with searing neon death

Making it in Unreal: Project Reality veterans shoot for more with Squad

Squad

Making it in Unreal: Project Reality veterans shoot for more with Squad

The best PC games of 2015 and 2014

The best PC games of 2015 and 2014

Adventures in... Insurgency - Never Gonna Give You Up

Insurgency

Adventures in... Insurgency - Never Gonna Give You Up

Weekend Deal Dump: Mother's Day Edition

Weekend Deal Dump

Weekend Deal Dump: Mother's Day Edition

The best Cities: Skylines mods

Cities: Skylines

The best Cities: Skylines mods

Remembering Terry Pratchett and Discworld Noir

Discworld Noir

Remembering Terry Pratchett and Discworld Noir

Multiplay on their post-buyout future and turning GAME into the

Multiplay

Multiplay on their post-buyout future and turning GAME into the "Costa of gaming"

Hearthstone review

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone review

Hands-on with Valve's amazing VR demo: the holodeck is here

Valve

Hands-on with Valve's amazing VR demo: the holodeck is here

Sid Meier's Starships PC review

Sid Meier's Starships

Sid Meier's Starships PC review

Overwatch designer Jeffrey Kaplan on the art and science of building a new breed of shooter

Overwatch

Overwatch designer Jeffrey Kaplan on the art and science of building a new breed of shooter

Topic of the Week: What was the most exciting thing you saw at GDC and PAX East?

Topic of the Week

Topic of the Week: What was the most exciting thing you saw at GDC and PAX East?

Having Lots of Sex With Men in Videogames: Part One

Having Lots of Sex With Men in Videogames: Part One

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number review

Hotline Miami 2

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number review

Cities: Skylines review

Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines review

A chat with Solid Snake: David Hayter on Marvel Heroes, voice acting, and if video game movies will ever be good

Marvel Heroes 2015

A chat with Solid Snake: David Hayter on Marvel Heroes, voice acting, and if video game movies will ever be good

We’ve got 5,000 keys to unlock super heroes in Marvel Heroes 2015. Assemble your Avengers here!

Marvel Heroes 2015

We’ve got 5,000 keys to unlock super heroes in Marvel Heroes 2015. Assemble your Avengers here!

Can Dreadnought teach players to think like admirals instead of pilots?

Dreadnought

Can Dreadnought teach players to think like admirals instead of pilots?

Making it in Unreal: how Elder Scrolls modders struck out alone for Witanlore: Dreamtime

Witanlore: Dreamtime

Making it in Unreal: how Elder Scrolls modders struck out alone for Witanlore: Dreamtime