Looking for a game that combines the safe, cozy vibes of Stardew Valley with the challenge of Minecraft and the exploration of Terraria? Look no further than 2023’s indie darling Core Keeper – an adorable survival mining sim for up to eight players.
Launching into early access last year, Core Keeper was an instant hit, attracting over half a million players in its first two weeks. Developed by independent Swedish studio Pugstorm (who just happen to have the most adorable logo ever – see their profile pic on Twitter if you don’t believe me), Core Keeper drops you into an endless mine filled with wonders untold. Armed with a trusty pickaxe, and an array of other mining tools and utensils, you must mine, craft, build, and farm your way to the secrets hidden within this mysterious cavern.
You’ll start by digging through the tiles that make up Core Keeper’s cavern walls, opening up new environments as you go. As you go, you’ll need to set up shelter, cook and consume meals, and craft tools and consumables to keep your expedition going. There are a number of character backgrounds available to pick from, with each possessing unique skills. Miners start with increased mining skill, explorers start with increased running capabilities, fighters have increased melee damage, and so on. There are a total of eight backgrounds to choose from, and if you’re playing with a squad, make sure you all go for a different role to ensure balance among the party.
Core Keeper’s locations are procedurally generated, meaning that no two players’ games will be the same. This unpredictability keeps the gameplay experience fresh, even after hours of play. As the map grows, you’ll get the feeling that you are expanding the world around you, making exciting discoveries as you go. Exploring, crafting, and fighting will also allow you to increase your skills as you gain experience, giving you a rewarding sense of growth as you descend closer to The Core.
Core Keeper sports a gorgeous pixel-art aesthetic, weaving around you a beautiful world of intricate details and dynamic lighting. Enjoy relaxing chip-tunes as you explore, mining for resources such as precious ore, used for crafting new tools. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security though, as this world is also filled with danger.
Cruel monsters lurk in the cavern’s depths, ready to eat you and your buddies alive. You’ll never forget the first time you discover one of Core Keeper’s formidable bosses, giant enemies with an unquenchable thirst for blood. Despite its cutesy aesthetic, Core Keeper’s bosses are no pushovers, requiring tactical thinking and some powerful gear to conquer. If you’re bringing backup, you’ll need to coordinate with your teammates in order to bring them down.
As well as surviving battles, you’ll also need to brave the elements. You won’t last long in an underground cavern without food, so start a fire and practice your cooking skills. Build your base with materials you’ve scavenged and you can soon start to farm your own crops and prepare a bountiful harvest. You can also grab your bait and go fishing. Combine your nutritious veggies with a tasty catch for wholesome meals with useful gameplay effects and bonuses.
It will also behoove you to craft armor for your characters if you plan on charging headfirst into some dangerous battles. Helms, chest plates, and leg armor can all be crafted, and if you can arrange all the pieces into a matching set, you’ll enjoy some tasty bonuses. They’ll also give your look a nifty upgrade (we’re partial to the bold Scarlet Armor, if you were wondering).
As you make your way through the many layers of the cavern, you’ll discover a variety of biomes, each one a living, breathing world with different types of environments. Keep exploring and you’ll discover biomes each with unique aesthetics and themes. The most recently added biome – the Desert of Beginnings – is rich with a rare material called Galexite which can be used to craft go-karts. Once you get used to scooting around in these nippy four-wheelers, you won’t want to travel by foot again.
Speaking of new biomes, the Desert of Beginnings update is just one of many expansions Pugstorm is making to the game. It’s clear that Core Keeper is a labor of love for the development studio, who are committed to keeping players engaged with constant updates.
Previous updates have included the undersea update, the Halloween event, and even a crossover with Terraria. It goes without saying that the world of Core Keeper will continue to grow along with the player base – the game is in early access after all, and a bright future lies in wait for the full launch. The next planned update is Shimmering Frontier, which takes explorers on a voyage deep within a new crystal-based biome, where they’ll get to discover Solarite ore and craft new equipment. You won’t have to wait long for this update, as it drops on October 4.
If you’re ready to begin your mining adventure, you can pick up Core Keeper in the Steam Publisher Sale right now for a whopping 33% off. This makes the game just $10.71 – a bargain price for a game containing so many hours of rewarding gameplay. The sale ends on October 9, so don’t wait around, dive into Core Keeper now.