Published on August 7th, 2014 | by JC Richardson0
Core Miner Review
Core Miner is a proper little space oddity from Utility Function, which features all the mining and trading from the Freelancer genre, but none of the pirate-blasting action and intrigue. Disappointed? Don’t be.
So you’re up to your ears in debt, stuck at the fringes of the galaxy doing a dangerous, lonely job for The Man. It’s a crappy situation to be in, but at least it’s an honest day’s work, right? You take your workaday craft out into the space around the local trading post and use a laser to blast chunks of space rock into bits. These blasts reveal various minerals to scoop up, which you then take back to the station to sell. It all seems rather simple at first, but things soon start to get interesting.
Using your hard-earned cash you upgrade your craft’s fuel supply, cargo hold and mining laser to make life easier, but much like real life your goal is to pay off your massive debts and start raking in the big bucks. Luckily, there are ship modifications to increase your efficiency and speed you along the way to financial independence. Tractor beams drag minerals into your craft from afar (obviously) and when you buy the Photon Burst there’s a whole new world of rocks ripe for the picking. This upgradeable tool blows asteroids to bits and allows you to harvest from the tougher metallic asteroids which lie further afield.
Warp gates see you travelling further for rarer minerals, and you can tow a handy mini-warp around for when your fuel gets low – the physics of this is just great, by the way. Your ship constantly burns fuel to power its engines and lasers, so you need to carefully balance the contents of your fuel tank against the rewards from gathering rarer minerals. Dragging a mini-warp around burns more fuel, but you don’t have to worry about the return journey at least. Run out of fuel in deep space though, and you have to resort to hitchhiking home – and the pick-up invariably costs you a pretty penny.
There’s a solid core to this neat indie title, though it’s still a little rough around the edges. The controls take some getting used to and aren’t as accurate as they could be. Also, I hoped to see more traffic out there, although the game is set in deepest space I suppose. I love that there’s no artificial time constraints and no IAPs, and you can actually spend quite a relaxing time chipping at your mountainous debts and feeling the thrill of just making it home with a full hold.
Summary: Don’t expect Freelancer or X4 here, but Core Miner manages to be a diverting game worthy of anyone wanting a more casual take on the genre.