Core Keeper has been revealed in Nintendo’s Indie World Showcase, coming to the Nintendo Switch. Marvelously inspired by Terraria, there has clearly been much love poured into this game.
Is Core Keeper simply a Terraria clone?
One of the first things I thought when seeing the announcement for Core Keeper in the Indie World Showcase was “Damn, Terraria with more than one plane of existence?” and was immediately hooked. However, I couldn’t help but notice how similar it seemed to be to Terraria and did some digging.
One point the internet made about Core Keeper was whether it was worth buying if it simply boiled down to being a barebones Terraria imitation. Sure, it may look great and might be fun, but why not stick to Terraria, a game with much more development and thousands of items?
Well, that’s where we come across the difference between imitation and inspiration.
Core Keeper, I realized, doesn’t simply imitate what made Terraria great, but is inspired by the core concepts of the game — and other similar games — and how the player feels when playing. This results in a game that may appear similar but is in itself a unique game.
Core Keeper shows us what real inspiration looks like
There is a difference between inspiration and imitation, and Core Keeper truly displays the power of passionate inspiration that transforms an idea.
From the announcement trailer, Core Keeper wanted to show off three main aspects of the game: the exploration, the building, and the mega-awesome boss fights. And the trailer is just scratching the surface. Each of those values is what made Terraria so great. Yet it isn’t a cheap knock-off and displays how inspiration should materialize.
What makes Terraria utterly fantastic is that it is more than a survival sandbox; it is layered with challenge after challenge, and each accolade you could possibly collect has an associated award. It is a game of true triumph and of great depth. Core Keeper is clearly inspired by those core values (and of the pixel aesthetic, but we probably have Minecraft to thank for that), yet makes an utterly unique experience.
The developer, Pugstorm, didn’t see the Eye of Cthulhu and think, “Ah, yeah, we need floating eyes!” and didn’t see the Wall of Flesh and think, “Right — adding that.” Instead, it is clear that Pugstorm wanted to reach the level of achievement and terror that such Terraria challenges and bosses posed. The near-Eldritch stature of the bosses and constant awe and trepidation of exploration in Terraria is also perfectly present in Core Keeper.
And the best part is, just like other huge survival sandboxes, in Core Keeper, you can forgo the bosses if you’d rather live a more comfortable life. When you’re not out fighting enemies and exploring the vast and beautiful world of Core Keeper, you can construct a gorgeous homestead or community, complete with livestock, pets, and companions.
It is clear that Core Keeper was inspired by Terraria and other such huge sandbox survival games, but it is much more than something that is like Terraria, it is its own game, its own challenge. It has its own beauty and its own rewarding feeling when faced with challenges and threats.
Core Keeper really owns itself, as it wasn’t inspired by what Terraria did, but how Terraria made players feel when achieving, exploring, and constructing. And that’s why Core Keeper is a prime example of what makes something inspired rather than imitated.
Terraria and Core Keeper even crossed-over
Games are allowed to be inspired by one another, and if the game is good enough, then it’ll get respected by the original game. Don’t forget, Terraria came out two years after Minecraft of all games, and it also got slammed for being a Minecraft Clone. However, both games advocate for each other in-game, showing true respect.
The same thing happened between Core Keeper and Terraria. One of the fan-favorite bosses from Terraria, King Slime, made its way into the depths of Core Keeper as a summonable boss for players to fight. This goes to show that Core Keeper is truly its own product, and has earned the respect of the community and of its initial inspiration.
I think this speaks volumes about Core Keeper as its own game. You don’t see Minecraft crossing over with games like Survival Craft, or MiniCraft: Blocky Craft. If you want to see what real imitation looks like, check out those titles.