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Stonehearth – Preview

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StoneHearth (not to be confused with Blizzard’s popular card game HearthStone) is a mix between Minecraft style crafting, The Sims and Farmville. All with some RPG elements added to the mix. It has a similar pixel graphic style of Minecraft, albeit more cutesy, like My Sims from the DS. Since the arrival of Minecraft there seems to be plenty of spin offs, all usually resulting in a poor man’s versions of the popular craft ‘em up. Luckily this isn’t heading the same way.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign and being voted for release via Steam’s Greenlight programme, StoneHearth is now in early access stage of development. This is Radiant’s first title and a very confident one to boot.

The aim of the game is simple, it’s a sandbox game which you control your Hearthlings and help them to create a home, all in a world which can be built, mined, crafted, but be warned this world can be hostile! You’re free to choose where to start your fledging village, pick a spot amongst the trees for more resources or in the middle of nowhere for maximum room, but less materials.

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On with the gaming and welcome to FrugalLand! I hope you like squirrel jerky!!

Each of your Hearthlings start out as workers, you tell them to mine and harvest, they do it. Once you get going you can promote them to new professions, you can set roles such as trappers, who hunt and trap animals, footmen, which will patrol and protect your town from invaders, blacksmiths, for all your armour and weaponry needs, you get the idea!

There isn’t much of a tutorial, but all the features are well laid out and simple enough to understand. Once you have enough materials you can design and construct buildings. I found the initial design process, choosing what to build and with which materials easy enough to begin with, sadly the actual building process didn’t seem to work as well. This could be the result of a bug or just me doing something wrong. Waiting for buildings to finish can feel like an age too, so start small then add to them seems to be the best approach I’ve found so far.

Don’t start off trying to build a huge castle! You’ll be waiting for a very long time and have nowhere to sleep in the meantime!

Your main aim is to keep morale up, build up your town and earn lots of gold. If you hit certain targets during the daily update you are rewarded with a new settler! Another worker to add to the force or a new shepherd to tend the flock.

But not all is rosy and sunshine in Frugal Land. Come nightfall you can carry on working, but you could be met with invaders! These come from the outskirts and try to attack your town. Sound the horn to defend yourselves and your Hearthlings will spring into action, however they can be injured and even die in combat. A genuinely heart-breaking experience as it is very easy to become attached to the little guys, it’s also quite annoying as you now need to wait for a new settler to take the blacksmith helm.

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Gameplay can seem to be a lot more spectator rather than actual doing much (similar to The Sims and Sim City), but  I still found myself playing for a good chunk of time. Usually waiting for the little guys to complete a building, then a notification will appear with someone willing to trade goods with you. There is always something to keep you occupied and always a goal to work towards. Whilst there are enough features to make it feel in depth it is still simple and fun to play.

The current build of Stonehearth is very playable and a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they add to it, with modding, multiplayer and PvP promised, the long term future is looking very promising. I’m hooked already and with the possibility of playing with my fellow Frugal gamers over multiplayer, I’ll be playing this for a while.

Keep an eye out on this, if you’re into your Sims, Sim City and/or Minecraft, this is maybe for you.

Pros:

For early access it’s very playable already

Good fun

Loads more features to be added

Cons:

May get overlooked as it’s of the “craft” genre

Building seems to take ages

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