Core Keeper Review (Early Access)

Core Keeper sprung to the top of Steam’s Top Seller list, and players from all around have been jumping into the underground world. This survival-crafting game is built on the success of games in the genre before it, shining in certain areas while seemingly just copying others. As a result, Core Keeper quickly becomes a fan-favorite as it climbs in player count.

While Core Keeper takes inspiration from games before it, it also makes exciting new choices. Certain parts of the game are soothing, while others can be headache-inducing, combining for an overall enjoyable experience.

What’s good in Core Keeper?

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For starters, core Keeper takes clear inspiration from games like Terraria and Stardew Valley. If Stardew Valley were set entirely in the mines, it would be Core Keeper. That’s not bad, as Stardew has its charm and exciting systems that have brought players back for years.

While Core Keeper can feel more lonely at times when you’re playing by yourself, it still manages to capture the charming, atmospheric feel of Stardew Valley before it. The building system is reminiscent of Terraria in that you only build the walls and floor of your base. Lighting is also an essential requirement for playing, like when the player delves deeper into Terraria.

For an early access game, there’s a lot of content for players. Core Keeper is one of those games you can start at 6pm and then suddenly realize you’ve been playing until 3am. One more trip to the biome for the supplies you need turns into hours of playtime. For an indie game, it is quite a feat to capture attention and have players be lost in your game.

The game is also an excellent price for the content you get, around $12 on Steam. There’s plenty to explore and bosses to fight. Your goal is to power up the core by defeating the different bosses located around the map, which some players claim to have finished in 20 hours. For early access, Core Keeper does well with what’s there and has the potential only to grow.

Like many in the genre before it, the game is great to play with friends. While it can be a good time to mine through the tunnels on your own, playing with a friend is a different experience that can take exploration and mining to the next level.

What’s negative about Core Keeper?

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The fishing minigame is very similar to Stardew Valley, just horizontally. The graphic for the game looks the same, even if the mechanics are a bit different. Fishing can be a bit tedious when you’re doing it repeatedly. While fishing is a staple in survival games, it could use another glance in Core Keeper.

While the content in the game is good, it makes one wonder what’s coming in the future. Not necessarily a negative feature, but it’s easy for the player to run through the content in the game now. Many players hope that Pugstorm will continue to add content on a consistent schedule without cutting anything in the game.

In the early game, chipping away at the dirt or clay spots can easily switch from easy to tedious. If you’re trying to find a specific resource, you can expect to have a backpack filled with hundreds of useless materials. The fix for players is to upgrade the pickaxe fully, but you have to get through many dirt patches to get to that point.

It doesn’t feel like you have much of a purpose in Core Keeper. You’re dropped in front of three shrines encircling a blue shell and given no guidance from there. You’re left to wander the surrounding area, figuring out how to level and get better resources on your own. That might be what some players want, but some might get a little bored without a clear goal.


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You don’t have to worry about waves of enemies coming to attack your base or struggle to find food in the early game. Most crafting items require one or two resources that aren’t that hard to come by, and then multiple crafted items are provided. The only real struggle comes from the combat system, not because it’s reasonably fair.

The Final Word

Core Keeper will be a lot of fun for players who’ve enjoyed past games like Stardew Valley, Terraria, and Minecraft since it draws from many of the popular mechanics in those games. There’s nothing entirely new in Core Keeper, just a rehashing of popular mechanics from other games. The only new thing that Core Keeper does is set the survival experience underground. Even still, players have been logging into Core Keeper to explore the underground and enjoy it.


Our Core Keeper review was written based on the PC version of the game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!

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