Game of the Week: Utopian Mining

Have you ever wanted to make a difference in the world? – Have you ever felt different from this world all together? Well, you’re not alone, in fact there’s a tiny little robot out there who  feels the same as you do. He/She [ The wonderful thing about these robot is they’re gender neutral ] has been sent to some nearly abandoned old town, and with your help these flesh-bags have asked you to use your uncanny drilling abilities to help them repave their homeland from drab to populous. So, go forth my friends, mine your way into the hearts of many and reclaim the respect and devotion of the human world in Utopian Mining by a young designer code-named Schulles!

Burrowing my way into your heart, and paving a city of peace – that’s love.

I’ve been playing Utopian Mining for a while now, and I have to say it’s a simple, heartwarming, and addictive blast of retro gaming goodness. My first impressions, visually, were that Utopia Mining reminds me of what I think Minecraft would have been like had it been invented in the 1990’s for a Gameboy Color. It’s got pixelated 2D artwork, dialogue boxes, quests, collection tasks – does ANY of this not scream a glorious ’90’s game? Well – that’s why I’m in love with it visually, but what about the rest of it?

What makes Utopia Mining special enough for me to dig right in?

Challenge and Nostalgia.

The game, while simple in it’s mechanics, is quite challenging in it’s delivery and the artistic nostalgia of the quests and artwork make for a quite enjoyable experience. The accessibility is through the roof on this game as well, which makes it doubly enjoyable for me when I know I’ve found a game I can share with everyone that almost anyone can play!

Here’s how the controls/accessibility break down:

  • You must guide your robot through the ground using the arrow keys to collect ore.
  • Sell your ore to the Shop to gain Cash to upgrade the city/keep yourself upgraded.
  • Individual quests and a sense of the game growing with your progress is amazing.
  • Minimal risk factors in the game make it an easy-going casual gaming experience.
  • The further you dig the lower your health gauge and energy get. Replenish often!

– and we dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig – in a mine the whole day through!

Accessibility:

Pros:

  • Game is entirely text-driven dialogue which is perfect for deaf gamers.
  • All inputs are either arrow keys or single button inputs used infrequently.
  • All inputs are labeled in the top HUB with quick key notation: 
    • M “Map”
    • I   “Inventory”
    • J  “Jobs”
    • X “Action”
    • G “More Games”
  • Games color scheme is so simple and crisp that colorblind should have little worry.
  • Saves are unique in the form of a tree in the center of the city that grows w/ progress.
  • Play at your own pace – very few rushed moments – perfect game for motion impaired
  • Gameplay is simple, yet effective – the easy to grasp concept makes it easy for anyone
  • Music is actually really special for this game, very relaxing and an added bonus to it.

My first ore!! – Oh how exciting! Oh… it’s only coal. Bah-humbug!

Cons:

  • Upon digging further in, colorblind gamers may have a harder time seeing ores and mining – colors tend to start to blend into a mixture of reds and browns to express danger that you’re about to die if you don’t head back to the surface, but it shouldn’t get in the way of gameplay – just a slight warning in case it affects anyone’s time.
  • No WASD option for controls leaves left-handed gamers slightly disadvantaged.
  • You can play the game without it, but unfortunately, having a Kongregate account is the only way to maintain the saves of your progress – the game is still a blast though!

Overall, this game was a joy and a definite mark on how simple concepts and gameplay can make for an infectious experience.

If you’re already digging on this game as much as I am well then you can bury yourself deep within it’s loving mining arms over at Kongregate and play it now! I wish I knew more about you as a designer Schulles, but what I do know is that you make some pretty awesome games sir! Look forward to seeing what you have in store in the future! Bravo for making your game so accessible for so many to play!

Go mine yourself something shiny and build your Utopia why don’tcha?!

I sound like a prospector… I’ve been playing this game too much… happy gaming folks!

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