EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Quinn Levandoski
previewed on PC
Starting From the Bottom
If Pokemon and DayZ had a baby, it would probably look a lot like Creatures Inc. Or, at this point, it’s more apt to say the ultrasound would bear a striking resemblance. Right now this alpha-stage Early Access title is largely bare-bones, but the experience, centered around surviving and thriving in an apocalyptic sandbox filled with monsters, shows signs of promise.
In its current form Creatures Inc doesn’t have much preamble. Upon starting the game you’ll be popped straight into a small settlement with a few concrete buildings, some people, a handful of scattered melee weapons, and a merchant that will sell weapons and sustenance. To be frank, this first impression didn’t do wonders and left me feeling less than optimistic about the experience I was jumping into. For being the central hub, the outpost certainly lacks “aliveness,” even for a game in which building and expanding is a central component. Right now none of the few people sitting around can be interacted with in any way and don’t seem to move. All of the buildings, save for the one with the merchant, are empty. The merchant has no dialogue, and the only sounds to be heard are the grating repetition of a guitar riff coming from a boombox (please let the player turn this thing off). With no story missions in the game as of yet, the only direction or flavor I had were a few wanted posters with monster pictures and a handful of tutorial objectives on the side of the screen that didn’t actually go away or “tick” when I completed them.
Strong Foundations With Room for Growth
After fumbling around a bit, arming myself with two melee weapons, and discovering that I start with no cash, I figured that my best bet was to head out in a random direction and try to find a way to make some cash. As I meandered about the game, it slowly started to win me over, despite its state of incompletion permeating most every aspect of gameplay. The map is properly large, and wandering through it does already come with a palpable sense of thrill from navigating the unknown. My first encounter was with a pack of small, ugly, four legged creatures that scratch and breath fire, and I quickly found that taking them out is an easy way to make $100 a pop. Survivors are scattered around, and leading them back to a safe zone is also worth $100. While the heavy weaponry and a few other items cost thousands, after a few brief trips out I’d saved enough for some extra food and water (hunger and thirst must be replenished as they slowly deplete) and a cage for catching baddies.
The other big component of the game is taming, which lets you harness your inner Ash Ketchum to use monsters you’ve captured in battle. If armed with a taser, you’ll be able to demobilize a monster and use a cage item on its body. The monster is then considered tamed and can be called forth from the menu to fight at your side until death. It’s not a terribly deep system right now, but as more monsters are added that assumedly adds a bit more depth to picking and choosing which to use in what situations, I think it could really turn into something quite fun. There aren’t any signs of it happening right now, but I’ve also got my fingers crossed for the ability to use monsters in non-combat roles. I’d like to explore the utility of using monsters as mounts, path clearers, etc.
Right now that’s pretty much the extent of what’s available to do in-game. You’ll head out, kill some monsters, save some survivors (though hunting is a much quicker way to make bank), use the money to buy more supplies, and use those supplies to make more money. The system works, and it can lead to some fun and tense moments trying to navigate infested areas as supplies run low. However, the foundations of these systems are really all that’s there right now. It’s fun to search for monsters, but there are only four. Deciding which ones to hunt, which to capture, and when to run away can be tense, but all of the enemies behave and attack in such predictable and easy-to-avoid ways that encounters can quickly become repetitive. Venturing far away from safety can garner a spark of adventurous excitement, but right now there are only a few locations with anything but wilderness. There are basic contracts asking you to catch the different monster types, but there’s no narrative or actual quests to give the game longevity beyond a weekend or so.
One to Keep an Eye On
Unfinished is the name of the game right now, but it’s something that developer Little Beavers Games is also being very honest and upfront about. Only being about two months into the game’s projected one year in early access a foundation is all one can really expect, but it’s encouraging to see that the aforementioned systems- along with others such as building and crafting, not only seem to work at their basic level but show a great deal of potential to develop into something quite engrossing. I don't yet recommend Creatures Inc. in its current state due to the general lack of content, but I absolutely encourage you to keep an eye on it in the months to come.
The game has potential, but we're not ready to jump in with both feet. If the game interests you, look, but don't touch - yet.