Xenominer

I’ve never played Minecraft.  Or FortressCraft.  Or CastleMiner.  Or any number of other voxel-type crafting games that are more trendy now than tramp stamps.  Incidentally, I don’t have a tramp stamp either.  I guess I’m not a very trendy person.  But, there’s no malice behind my ignorance of the crafting scene.  I just haven’t played it because it doesn’t look like something I would have fun with.  Yea, I started Indie Gamer Chick to have new experiences, but I was thinking more along the lines of games that simulate what it’s like to be a penguin in heat, or a game where you fling mashed potatoes at gophers.  Let this be said: if you hate something without playing it, you’re an idiot.  To all of you guys who denounce Minecraft, FortressCraft, CastleMiner, or any other crafting game that you haven’t even played, you’ve really lost the plot.  I know trying to appeal to the irrational core of gamers is silly, but I figure I should at least try.

Obvious joke warning: Minecraft…..IN SPAAAAAAACCCEEEEEEEEEE!!!

I can’t compare Xenominer to something I haven’t played, so this final Uprising review will be somewhat unique.  I go into it with no preconceived notions of what to expect.  I have no bias acquired from the games it borrows elements from.  This is a slate so clean you could perform surgery on it.

So I started the game and went through a brief tutorial that made me suck up various blocks and then reposition them in the open world.  First thing I noticed: the graphics are clean.  Second thing: the jumping is really good.  Like, almost Metroid Prime good.  Third, the frame rate was really good.  Hey, this might not be so bad, I thought.  Then the game wanted me to suck up ice to replenish my dwindling oxygen.  This was a problem.  Although I got as far as “ice = shiny” I couldn’t actually tell the difference between an ice block and a crystal block.  Even with a TV large enough that it’s one of the seven wonders of the world, the text that identifies the blocks is practically microscopic.  It’s also written in an alpha-numeric font, which never looks good when it’s smaller than an ant’s penis.

Most of the HUD displays are too small, but I was able to suck up the ice and covert it to oxygen.  And then the sun went to rise up.  This causes radiation to rain down upon you.  The game warned me to take shelter.  So I dug myself down a few blocks and covered myself up with them.  I wasn’t sure how long to wait, and I didn’t want to press my eyeballs up against the TV to find out, so I undug myself and ended up irradiated.  So I redug myself and waited for the sun to pass.  Most games that makes you wait for stuff to happen are probably not going to win any Nobel Prizes for Fun.  I did attempt to pass the time by drilling deeper, but then my battery ran out of juice, and then I ran out of oxygen, and then I expired.  Sigh.

Upon respawning, the sun was still up and I instantly started taking damage.  I did survive and was tasked with building something that required copper.  I fucking turned over half the world looking for the shit, going through more oxygen tanks than a 70-year-old chain smoker.  After an hour (including more respawns) I had found the silicon I needed, but no copper.    Xenominer was unquestionably going to be a time sink.  I tend to view such games favorably.  Hell, there’s two time sinks on my top 10 list: Miner Dig Deep and Smooth Operators.  But I had fun with those.  Once I noticed how much time had passed versus the amount of fun I had up to that point (which would be none), I couldn’t hit the power button fast enough.  I’ve talked with other XBLIG reviewers and they agree: Xenominer doesn’t get you off to a quick enough start, like all great time sinks do.  Some more direction.  Just a big enough push to get you feeling like you’re actually accomplishing stuff.  But there is none.

No, there’s no killer space bees or space ants. Too bad. That might have livened things up.

So my first real crafting game is in the books.  I didn’t really hate it, because it controlled really well (can’t stress enough how good the jumping physics feel) and the graphics held up.  Mostly.  Actually, the game starts skipping the more you walk around.  I wanted to test how bad it was, so I decided to walk in a straight line with a stopwatch and time how long it would take to start skipping.  Ready for this?  It took less than two seconds per a pause (the average was about 1.7 seconds) .  When the game freezes every two seconds, chances are it might not be quite done yet.  Maybe Xenominer is in an early beta stage, and something amazing will come of it.  I could see myself getting totally hooked into it, just like I did with Miner Dig Deep.  Xenominer’s biggest problem is that it has nothing to hook you in early.  If games are drugs, then picture Miner Dig Deep as heroin.  Every good drug pusher knows you have to hook ‘em early, and that game does it.  Xenominer, on the other hand, doesn’t offer you the drug until it makes you watch a documentary on grass growing and the latest episode of the World Series of Paint Drying Watching.  Thanks, but I’ll just say no.

Xenominer was developed by Gristmill Studios

80 Microsoft Points said the Uprising had a 44.44% success rate at making the Leaderboard.  In other words, the promotion had the same success rate as any nine random XBLIGs would have had in the making of this review.

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The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

20 Responses to Xenominer

  1. The Grumble says:

    ah it appears you had the exact same problems as me for the most part except I got to see even less on my non HD non widescreen TV.
    Also having pumped a grand total of 5 hours into the game I can say it doesn’t suddenly unfold into something brilliant at any point in that time scale

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  3. Dangus says:

    I didn’t buy this, Sententia or Pixel. I think I did it right.

  4. That’s too bad, because it looks cool, it looks like a planet I’d want to explore and bring back guns and bottle caps back to my motel room to hoard in the bath tub… Like Minecraft meets Fallout.

  5. The Flying Jalapeno says:

    As someone cursed with a small penis, I find this review offensive.

    I’m surprised this game made it through peer review. The skipping issue is horrible. The longer you play, the worse it gets. I played the PR build and I actually thought my Xbox had frozen on multiple occasions. It basically renders the game unplayable, shame on everyone that gave this a passing review.

    It’s very pretty, but dreadfully boring.

    • I only played an hour, so I can’t vouch whether the skipping gets worse. The stopwatch test above really did happen though. once the skipping started happening, we created a straight line to walk and then tested the length between pauses. Anywhere between 4 seconds and 0.6 seconds.

      • The Grumble says:

        Having personally put in 5 hours I never noticed the skipping however I will say the loading times for the level did get longer and longer so I wouldn’t be surprised if the skipping did get worse too the longer you play.

        • I find that the skipping thing happens every minute or so on average, at least for me. That’s bad enough.

          Your impressions of Xenominer, Kairi, are exactly why I’ve never got into a crafting game (except Terraria, which is different). For me there isn’t enough…anything. They turn you loose and say “do stuff” but you often have no means to do anything you want until you’ve spent 20 hours digging at random.

      • Bob Dandy says:

        I had fun with the game when I first started it. My main hook was that I found the alien tower made of Xenowalls (or whatever that stuff was called) and there was a grav-pad that pushed you up into the tower where a small alien dig-bot was awaiting you. Once I found the bot, I had to figure out the alien script that it used to operate….. Very interesting, I must say. It wasn’t that hard to figure out. Neither was the game itself. I found copper, iron, silicon, and aluminum quite early on. Most of it was just sitting in the side of the hills that are placed throughout the first biome. Right on the surface! Either way, I recommend giving it another shot and going into the alien tower right off the bat and checking out the bot. You can use that tower as a form of shelter also, but there wont be much to do the first time….. I just went and got some food. Haha. But made sure my solar array was down and i had a full oxygen tank. Then once I returned I left and started on my jouney. It’s been fairly interesting so far. The main problem I have with it is that you don’t get to upgrade quick enough. You have to find a shit-ton of resources first and build all sorts of electronics. But, either way, I enjoy it. And hey, it was only a dollar. haha

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  8. Alan Tryth says:

    Huh. I found copper pretty quick, though I might’ve just had a lucky seed. I’ve had that happen in Minecraft too (Catching a bad seed, I mean); ended up in the middle of an endless desert, no trees in sight. Still, I did like how this game took the minecraft concept and made something I’d consider as another entry in the genre, and not just another clone. Or maybe I just like SPAAAAAAAAAAACE!

  9. Pingback: Xenominer Review | The Indie Mine

  10. Ash says:

    Cane you make this accessible in Australia Thanks!

    • Hey Ash. There is a sneaky way for Ozzys to get XBLIGs. According NeoGaf..

      “Xbox LIVE Indie Games are available in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States. If you’re outside those countries you can still play these games by setting up a Gamertag for free for one of those countries. It’s incredibly simple, and absolutely worth doing.”

      Give it a shot.

  11. eridani says:

    This game is a little rough around the edges, but it has some great potential. I think it is too bad that the reviewer didn’t really try to get into the game and dismissed it as so. The font is honestly not that bad, and ice only looks like white crystals, which is less common. It is easy to find underground, as is most materials (including copper). You didn’t even mention the Centriforge or the Bot, so I assume you didn’t know of its existence? I don’t blame you on all fronts since you said you’ve never played a game like this, but don’t hate a game after only playing a fraction of it.

  12. Bob Delago says:

    Good review, I really enjoyed the no-Minecraft bias. I had a huge Minecraft bias coming into the game, I’m a huge Minecraft fan. This game lived up to my expectations, and way more for a measly 80msp.
    The pictures you posted shows you played before recent updates, I recommend trying it out again since updates. I don’t get the freeze issue described, hopefully that’s completely fixed.
    I agree, it starts out slow. But, it’s exactly like Minecraft in this aspect, truly the player makes the objective of the game. I’m assuming the spawning of ore was heavily increased, as ore is very easy to find now.
    I hope you play it again, and hope it boosts your perspective!
    Awesome reviews, thank you for the time to do them all.

  13. Godzilla don says:

    This review is practically stupid, and somebody who obviously hasn’t even played a little fraction of the game. I found ice blocks within 2 minutes or less, and I can tell crystals apart, maybe you just need to get your eyes checked? I can also read everything on my TV, although its small. Yeah, you need eye checking. Not to mention how you rate this game pretty much bad which is sad because I’ve gone to hours, and hour of play, and I’m still having fun building space like structures, tunnels, hardware etc in my base. Exploring is also fun, and the world is just amazing looking. I also NEVER experienced this lag you guys talk about when you walk out far. But maybe that’s just me. You know the funny thing is, when the star comes up, the point of sheltering is obviously to explore underground, mine, and dig. Also nice to have a feature like this in a game, it adds a twist to it, and not to mention when alien life is added. Maybe you just need to actually play the game first before you QQ about how bad you are at dying within a few minutes, and shit. I’ve only died once, ever. That was because I didn’t get out of the radiation to fast. So to be honest, this review blows, and most of you obviously don’t understand aspects of a game. You base everything off a game that’s been out for years, and compare. This game has its own unique features, and way better cooler looking than minecraft for sure. It just came out not long ago, and much needs to be added, I blame the developers for being slow, and now adding the cool shit right away but I’m not in charge. So heres my advice as a game reviewer, actually play the game, and not QQ every second over small things. Goodbye, and have a nice day.

    • You have to remember that I played this game the day it came out. It’s been patched several times since then. I really would like to give it a second chance. I’m just waiting for the developers to give me the green light on that.

  14. Godzilla don says:

    I had a rough day – . – I apologize for my harsh comment, anyways. It’s deffinently better now, should give it another shot :) I think when the hostile aliens come to play or any hostile life at all will make the game more interesting.

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