By Michael Sagoe (mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
Ever since the global phenomenon called Minecraft, a rising trend of “Make it your own” sandbox titles was created soon after its rise to fame. While a few of them have brought some interesting new ideas to the table, many others were just trying to bite off a bit of Minecraft’s success. Now, a new Kickstarter project called “Imagine Nations” by indie developer group “Cat Banana Studios” is looking to stand out from all the others with unique features derived from almost every genre out there.
With their currently ongoing Kickstarter campaign, Imagine Nations promises a procedurally generated world where players can explore their environment, build a town, battle against hostile creatures and more, all made possible through the use of voxels-based cubes. While it might sound like just another Minecraft wannabe, Imagine Nations goes one step further by integrating a unique Mayor mechanic where players can take direct control of their town and direct NPCs to create various structures, research new technologies and help their society expand and grow. Think of it as a mix between Minecraft and Sid Meier’s Civilization.
In order to drum up some support for their Kickstarter project, they’ve release an alpha demo of the game for everyone to play. With the demo only being under 100mb, I decided to give it a quick whirl during a lazy afternoon session.
The demo starts off by dropping the player into a large forest with scattered hills and crevices in plain sight. Right inside that forest is a large town house with various civilians pacing up and down the area. As the game mentions upon entry, you’re the mayor of this small town and must begin your duty by helping the townspeople in various ways. So then the game directs the player into the house in order to access the mayor’s console. Once activated by the player, they enter an RTS style mode where they can see the entire landscape of the town and forest from a top-down view. From here, the player can pick various houses to build for their citizens. Just pick a house, select an open spot on the ground and watch the townspeople go to work on it. At the moment, the demo doesn’t seem to include any major resource gathering, as the townspeople were able to build these houses without any wood… or stone… or bricks… or anything else but their pickaxes, for that matter.
After the house was built, it was time to build a barrier around the town to keep any hostile creatures in the forest from coming in. Just what hostile creatures were out there was a bit of a mystery, and I sure wasn’t prepared to fight them off with an axe.
But anyway, gathering wood to use for the barrier was as easy as taking a single whack at a tree. Once a tree was cut down, the wood is placed in my character’s inventory and to be laid down across the floor… sort of.
Yes, I’m sure these floating wood cubes will do a fine job of protecting the town… just as long as whatever creatures in the forest aren’t too big to climb over or too small to crawl under it…
After the town’s awkward looking defenses were up, it was then time to go look for food. The game mentions that a caravan was lost far out into the forest, and that I would have to be the one to go get it. Well geez, I thought I was supposed to be the mayor of this town, not some lowly scavenger…
But regardless, my curiosity over what was waiting out there got the best of me, and so I went off with only my pickaxe to protect me. After wandering the forest for about a minute, the caravan was spotted. I was ready to pull the cart back to town, but then all of a sudden…
…A wild cat goat appears!
Or at least, I THINK it’s a cat goat…
Well I know for sure that it’s not a friendly cat goat, because the thing attacked me as soon as I touched the cart. With my measly axe, I hacked the cat goat to death, but soon after, even more cat goats arrived. Those feisty things wouldn’t let up. Fortunately, I was able to defeat them all.
With the caravan secure, houses built and defenses up, the day was saved, and the demo was completed… Time to screw around!
Overall, the initial product they’ve choose to present to the public may be lacking, but a very good foundation for the game as a whole has been set. The amount of features planned by Cat Banana could easily make Imagine Nations stand out from all the other sandbox titles that attempted to ride the Minecraft trending train, such being able to fight much bigger creatures, engineer and pilot giant planes or even build a civilization in space.
However, with a couple of weeks left into their Kickstarter campaign and only around 2% of their funding goal achieved, they still have a long climb ahead of them.
For more information, check out the Kickstarter Page here.