There's something about the ocean, isn't there? Since the dawn of recorded history, mankind has been fascinated by the great wide blue. In particular, stories of ocean survival have thrived in the past century. From Yann Martel's Life of Pi to Nathaniel Philbrick's In The Heart of the Sea-- there's something about the vast, unforgiving nature of...[read more below]
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There's something about the ocean, isn't there? Since the dawn of recorded history, mankind has been fascinated by the great wide blue. In particular, stories of ocean survival have thrived in the past century. From Yann Martel's Life of Pi to Nathaniel Philbrick's In The Heart of the Sea-- there's something about the vast, unforgiving nature of the ocean grips us, arrests us and makes for a compelling narrative.
Or in this case, compelling gameplay. Initially designed as part of a student project, Raft, a modern take on the high-seas survival genre, has captured the attention of many as it's gone from indie release to improbable success.
Raft is a first-person survival game created by Swedish indie developer Red Beet Interactive. The premise is classic. You're on a raft, floating in the middle of the ocean, armed with nothing but a fish hook and your wits. Using the tools you have available to you, you must survive all manner of perils: hunger, dehydration, sharks. In the meantime, by collecting debris scattered throughout the world, you can build your raft from a basic floating vessel to something better resembling a small fortress. You can play single-player, as part of a team, or in a creative sandbox mode that allows you to focus entirely on building magnificent structures using the game's robust crafting mechanics.
The graphics are fairly milquetoast and will look familiar to anyone who has played Fortnite or any of its countless streamer-friendly derivatives. Everything is bright and simple and colorful in a fairly generic way. That said, they aren't at all bad. They're definitely serviceable, and for an indie title like Raft, you could certainly do worse. The audio, similarly, is nothing to write home about. The tinkling piano keys and sparse, atmospheric sound design, while not especially bold or varied, effectively capture the experience of being stranded and alone on an ocean that seems to stretch on forever.
The gameplay, however, is where Raft truly shines. In the manner of games like Stardew Valley, Raft is about managing supplies while working to build your infrastructure through discovery and crafting. You can't always do both things at once, though, and the game forces you to make choices about how to allocate your limited resources in effective ways. This can make things difficult and somewhat tedious early game as you are struggling to obtain the resources you need to stay afloat. However, as the game progresses, production on your raft becomes a well-oiled machine, and the payoff can be incredibly satisfying.
Raft manages to differentiate itself from its contemporaries by emphasizing the survival aspect of the game and forcing players to make difficult, engaging decisions about how they spend their time. The game is still in development, and as it evolves, it is likely to attract more and more devoted players to its ranks.
Raft was made available on Steam Early Access in May 2018. As of yet, Red Beet Interactive has not announced any plans for a full release.
Raft is a game about surviving and thriving with limited resources on the high seas.
What follows is the official description of Raft, from the developers.
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