Survival and crafting games have seen a pleasant mix have mixed results over the last couple of years, and with the popularity of the genre waning in favour of Battle Royale games, developer Red Beet have brought us Raft. A unique idea in terms of the genre, throw in co-op and you have an enjoyable and relaxing experience.
What makes Raft stand out is the surroundings. Other survival games like Ark, Conan, Subnautica, Die Young and Fade to Silence offer a huge sprawling open world in which to explore and gather supplies to craft tools, clothing and building supplies. Raft changes that by dropping you on a small raft in the middle of the ocean with nothing more than a hook attached to a rope which allows you to snag scrap items that drift past you casually, and nothing more. Minimalistic is an appropriate adjective here, and your survival is made all the more important when you find out that a shark is most definitely out to make you its lunch by chewing its way through your raft rather quickly.
Never fear, as there is plenty of scrap floating by as it bobs up and down along the waves current. You could even dive in to collect some, but that shark is never too far away, so best get accustomed to using your hook and start crafting new pieces to expand your raft. The crafting interface is actually quite easy to get to grips with, and there’s a decent selection of items for you to craft and extend your life. New tool, furniture and even a research station. Placing them is simple too, and in no time you’ll soon have a floating palace to be proud of.
Aside from the survival mode which is where the meat of the game is; you’ll also have the option to play in creative should the hassle of surviving and shark attacks be too much for you to deal with. The game is relaxing as it is, and when you take your time in creative with everything available to you from the get go, Raft becomes a thoroughly enjoyable game and one of the best in the genre even if you’re playing survival and dealing with the challenge to stay alive on the endless ocean. There is something just peaceful about riding the waves, constructing your new home on the water and surviving with little hassle to bother you.
There is also a co-operative mode for you to try if you have a friend ready to commence a voyage into the blue unknown. And while the game can be fun it’s also feeling empty at times. I don’t mean that it’s a dull game by any means, but new content will be needed to prevent boredom from setting in. Yes there are things to discover, but perhaps tropical islands to find with more than just supplies on, but maybe long lost civilisations or their ruins to explore and discover new and rare items? Who knows if it could work, or if the developer would want to implement something such as this. One thing for sure though, they need to keep working on the game to provide new content to keep the game fresh and intriguing enough to entice gamers to part with their money.
Visually, Raft looks great and I came across no frame rate issue when playing, and the scenery is mostly water so there’s not that much to go on here, but the colour palette is good enough and does its job. I did spot something in the distance that look like some kind of platform early on, but given my trajectory I was unable to steer myself towards it. Needless to say, I want to explore as it’s in my nature to be inquisitive, so naturally I dived in with the intention of swimming over to explore. Mr Shark had other ideas and promptly chomped away at my health until I had died. I’m going to be honest here, that was not my best idea and I shall not be attempting any swimming again until I can distract the shark long enough. Or at least steer my raft towards where I need it to go.
Raft has a lot of potential for further content to be added, and this is the area that it needs to improve on to keep people interested and making that purchase to support the developer. There is plenty they could do to really make the game shine above others in the genre, but as it is, anyone who loves being creative with their builds like myself, as I also enjoy building in Minecraft, and find this activity in games therapeutic. The survival mode is also engaging and could well do with new items to craft.
Note: As the game is in Early Access and therefore not a full title yet, I’ll hold back on awarding a final score until there’s a final product. If you do make that purchase, and I highly recommend that you do should the game interest you, then remember to provide feedback for the developer as this is crucial so they know where the bugs are and what needs improving to make the final product something they can be proud of.
Developer: Red Beet
Publisher: Axolot Games
Release Date: 23rd May 2018 Early Access
Steam copy provided for review purpose.