Creatures Online Examined: Part One

A Cookie for a Creatures Online NornThe topic of Creatures Online, formerly known as Creatures 4, is something that I’ve purposefully avoided for nearly two years. However, Fishing Cactus recently posted a recording of actual gameplay, which is the first video we’ve seen of the game in years. Literally! With a timestamp of about 21 minutes, though, it’s something that requires a bit of time to explore. I found a bunch of interesting elements, and have several posts to share with my thoughts and opinions. Not everyone will agree with me, yet everyone is entitled to their own opinion! Even if someone “hates” this game, I see no cause to publicly chastise him or her. Likewise, if you really love this game, hold strong to that opinion! I’m coming from my own perspective, which has built up over many years of following Creatures Online. Let me stress again that my opinion is no better than anyone else’s.

To start with, the above image represents one of the Norns within the game. As I found out during the course of the video, Norns really aren’t the focal point of Creatures Online. That may sound completely odd and counterintuitive, but watch the video very carefully. There are very few elements of artificial life about this game. It much more closely resembles Creatures Village than any other Creatures game, but more on that later on!

Creatures Online Gameplay 2015

Generating Coins in Creatures OnlineThe focus of this game is to collect various coins and other currencies to purchase items to customize the world. Everything has a cost to it, so far as I could tell. This coin machine required a Norn to operate it in order for its coins to be collected. In a way, this could be seen as a direct parallel to the bioenergy feature in Creatures 3. I remember what it was like to recycle random gadgets just to create a small item! Yet Docking Station effectively did away with the bioenergy concept, and most of the time, players have been given unlimited access to agents.

An Unnecessary Focus on Collecting CoinsIf the coin collecting element seemed like it was a very minor element of the game, think again! Those coins, as well as the other forms of currency, fly across the screen and create a not-so-lovely distraction. My eye immediately followed those coins to see what the total was, thereby making the Norn on screen virtually nonexistent. Don’t get me wrong: I often dislike being able to create a world with absolutely everything in it from the start. However, that choice comes down to the actual player. It’s very simple to play one of the Creatures games with a minimal amount of items in the world, while the option to fill it up with everything under the sun still exists. Creatures Online appears to force the player to start off with very little and collect coins in order to advance. Take a look at the items in the video: There are almost no food sources, and I would hesitate to say that an ecosystem was in place. There are even items that require a player to have achieved a minimum level.

A Whole Lot of Coins and CurrenciesAs if the coins were not distracting enough, they are accompanied by very obvious sounds. Perhaps there will be an option to change the volume, and maybe even the currencies flying across the screen can be hidden. The fact remains that collecting these coins is the central element of Creatures Online. Price tags abound everywhere, as will be seen in additional screenshots. While it is true that these coins can be collected within the game, meaning that they do not cost real money, there wasn’t enough presented in the video to gauge whether or not normal coin production can easily support a decent number of purchases. In other words, it was not clear whether 20 minutes of gameplay would generate enough coins to afford a lot of items. The whole coin collecting element of Creatures Online was always something that made me wary. As will be seen in further posts, coins seem to be mandatory to advance, and this (among other things to be discussed soon) makes the idea of a wolfling run utterly impossible.

Stay tuned for some more features that can be found in this video! I may have a rather negative view of this game, but please don’t take that to mean that I think everyone must share that viewpoint. Comment away! Also keep in mind that there is no release date set for Creatures Online at this time.

Images Credited to Fishing Cactus

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