You’re a criminal facing the nearly impossible task of terraforming a planet into a viable place to settle colonies in exchange for erasing your criminal record. Don’t expect much help on this mission. Outside of multiplayer, you’re on your own, and you start with a few days’ worth of supplies, a spacesuit with an oxygen supply that lasts only two minutes, and a gun capable of gathering materials. However, if you have enough time and upgrades, you can completely turn a lump of dirt into a place worth living in. However, you may not have a happy ending if you just work hard at creating life.

As you add oxygen, pressure, and heat to the planet, you slowly terraform a barren wasteland into a place where you can actually survive without needing an oxygen tank, and eventually introduce creatures into the ecosystem. I don’t know how a couple plants and heat generators can make the sky blue and create clouds in just a few hours of work, but some things have to be sped up to save time. Seriously, depending on who you ask, in real life terraforming Mars could take anywhere from 50 to 100 million years. It makes progress very easy and faster, especially when you build more equipment that speeds up the revitalization process. It’s actually really cool to see how slowly the planet transforms. One minute there’s nothing but sand, the next minute there are giant waterfalls. It’s nice to see your work pay off like that.

Speaking of which, as you improve the conditions on the planet, you unlock more things to craft that will help you terraform the planet faster. Bigger supplies, better and more diverse crafting stations, even rockets that can be sent into space to greatly increase productivity… as well as sending meteors to collect materials in them.

However, you’ll need raw materials to accomplish all of this, and you won’t be able to find everything by hanging around your original landing zone. You won’t even be able to grow food from the seeds you started with. You are strongly encouraged to explore the surrounding area, even if you can’t stay outside for more than two minutes. There’s plenty of ore to collect, chests to loot, and wrecked ships to find raw materials or just basic necessities like food, water, or oxygen. You’ll often find new areas to use, especially those that have crashed, as they often have microchips on them that once decoded can add more features to your weapons and costume.

It’s actually a bit scary to explore these lifeless areas, especially the ships, as they are completely black inside. When I walk through dark interiors or abandoned bases of previous planet creators, I was preparing myself for something to jump out at me, even though, you know, when I landed, there was literally nothing alive. There’s definitely an atmosphere here that makes exploring fun, discovering new things, and trying to figure out the stories that existed on this planet before you arrived.

Now for the technical specs. I ran the game on high graphics settings, limited to 60 frames per second, and it ran perfectly, with no harsh lags. In fact, it’s incredible that the game does it all smoothly while slowly transforming the world, adding water and greenery throughout the land. I did notice some questionable texture here or there, but that’s okay. Yeah, but I did notice some vulnerabilities: using the jetpack, I could just abuse collision detection and fly up to places I shouldn’t go. Oh, while watching terraforming is interesting, near the middle you’ll be waiting for the numbers to grow, which can take a depressing amount of time, even if you have a fleet of vehicles running at maximum power.

Planet Crafter is definitely a time sink that you can easily get lost in. It’s a very peaceful game that is all about the environment and how you can manually create something great out of it. Sure, I was scared at times, but there was really nothing to worry about. This is a game that you take up at your leisure and play until there is nothing left to do. I highly recommend Planet Crafter to anyone who wants an enjoyable experience.

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