Genre: Action, Adventure, Survival, Simulation
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows))
Developer|Publisher: Spiffyfit | RockGame
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US E
Price: US $9.49 | UK £14.99 | EU € 10,59
Release Date: January 20th, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to RockGame
When I decided to review Scrapnaut there wasn’t much information to go with in the Nintendo eShop: an open world, top-down, base building survival game with steampunk-inspired elements. Of course, this survival game has already been out on Steam since September 2020, but as usual, I try not to read a lot of info about it before I dive in. I think it was the base building promise that intrigued me, but can I handle the survival part?
I found myself waking up on a hard wooden floor to the quest “Hello World”. Guess this is my first day here, wherever it is I am. Although I am alone, I’m not without resources: opening the chests in the room gives me some items, like seeds and fibre. There’s canned food so I won’t have to go hungry immediately, plus, the room next to the one I woke up in has tomatoes growing. After clicking on everything it’s time to climb the ladder to go upstairs, and eventually I’m able to step outside in this strange world.
Going outside of my crashed airship (a special one though, something out of a Steampunk dream) it seems this is definitely not earth. No oxygen, pollution making everything hazy and the surroundings are filled with flying robot contraptions shooting at everything that moves….not my idea of being welcome!
Going for the Peaceful Gameplay
One of my first tasks is to repair an oxygen filter that is fairly close by, after which moving about gets to be slightly easier. The planet is luscious, lots of trees, shrubbery, mushrooms and special herbs. There’s scrap scattered about and lots of rocks with ore in them. As you get the first tools needed from the start, you can get to using your pickaxe and axe to get wood and stones from the first. And as there is a crafting table right there in the plane, I sense an activity coming up that I love in games: crafting. Still, those pesky robots made moving very difficult, making me flee back to my plane very rapidly.
Fiddling about with the settings in Scrapnaut I found that there was a way around all that combat and make for some more peaceful gameplay: changing the difficulty level. In the settings you can choose Hard, Normal, Easy and even Peaceful. The way you pick that setting influences the rate hunger and energy are depleted, and it also determines how many base raids there will be. Plus, you can choose to get a tutorial and to lock the difficulty level.
Now I know, many of you will be playing the game mainly for the survival part, relishing in the battles with robots and constantly being at your guard, struggling to not die of hunger. Not me. I wanted a game where I can explore and build at my leisure and just have fun. So, I chose for Peaceful. Not a lot of problems with energy and hunger, and no base raids. And with that, I happily visited Rusty, the crippled robot and got my next assignment.
Exploring, Building, Crafting and Farming
Scrapnaut is great when it comes to exploring. There’s a huge map, various biomes and a lot of structures that some civilization left behind. Pretty early on you get access to a way to make crafting tables, for alchemy, armor, weapons and such. Blueprints to make machines like seed makers, furnaces and, very important at first to not die of starvation, a cook pot. The cook pot needs ingredients and you have a way to make farming fields to grow tomatoes, pumpkins, leeks and much more. To build and farm I soon found my base, surrounded by a ring that repelled the robots so I could work at my leisure. Though I started off with a wooden tent, pretty soon the game made it possible to make bigger structures, for which electricity is crucial.
There’s mining, digging for treasure and lots and lots of chores to do, like repairing the gate to get to the next biome.
It took me a while to get to grips with the map, as going right in the map doesn’t mean you have to go right in the game. And while there was a marker there called Camp, that’s not my camp. Reading it here it seems pretty dense, but I circled around forever trying to find my homebase again, where I had pitched my tent. Found out much later I had to look for Building Field.
After the first tutorials it’s the quests that kept me going, expanding and discovering Teleport points, something that closely resembles Stonehenge, a Radio Tower and much, much more. My skills in blacksmithing, alchemy, technology and management grow when I find books of the matching colors.
Combat and Multi Player
Of course, fighting the robots is a staple of Scrapnaut too. First thing you find when you go out of your airplane is a shield, which triggers fighting once you equip it by pressing the Y button. It only works once you have a weapon of sorts equipped too. Once you are ready like this, fighting consists of pressing the A button, making my guy slap his weapon about. It works against the robots, though it feels a bit awkward. On the whole, is much easier to just avoid them and get behind walls and trees once they start firing at you.
Still, if you love the combat part, Scrapnaut has you covered. You can build turrets to defend your base, a walker in which you can become a veritable megaman and all sorts of armor and weapons. There’s even the option to go online and play the game with up to four other players, wiping out those annoying robots and bosses together.
There are some elements in Scrapnaut that bugged me. The fact that you can only played it top down is a pity. The camera does turn 360degrees, but you can’t go to eye level. The graphics are nice, but our survivalist looks a bit too simple for my taste. He moves in a clunky way, and although the tutorial is there, the lack of background story made it feel like I was just checking the lists of moving from quest to quest. Although I achieved a lot, it didn’t stand out as special as it was often a matter of fetching this and putting it there. Still, the exploration and the feeling that you want to find out what happened here keeps me going.
I realize I may not have played Scrapnaut in the same way most gamers would, but Scrapnaut harbors elements or different kinds of genres that will appeal to all sorts of players. It allows you to adjust the settings to just the kind of gameplay that feels right for you, which I really like.
The exploring, gathering of materials and building and crafting part is where the fun is for me, and the game handled this well. It feels like a fresh take on the farming and crafting genre, reminding me of Harvest Moon: an Innocent Life, though it isn’t as smoothly polished as the big titles. I wanted to see more storyline, which would have made it less about ticking the boxes for the quests, but I did enjoy my time with Scrapnaut.
I can’t of course comment on the battle part, but for me, the game shines in exploration and building/crafting.
Final Verdict: I Like It a Lot