Do you like Minecraft, but find that all of the tedious mining, building, and exploration mechanics get in the way of your enjoyment? Are you a fan of crafting objects, but feel like a 3x3 grid isn’t nearly hardcore enough? Yes? Then my friends, have I got a 6x8 upgrade for you.

At first glance, TerraCraft [Free] could be easily be confused with your standard match-3 affair. The twist here is that the game requires you to configure blocks into patterns for crafting items such as the planks, boxes, pickaxes, swords, and shields you’ve all come to know and love. This Minecraft-ian conceit takes the standard and kicks the variety up a… notch.

You begin the game with a small list of blueprints for items you can construct. Once the timer begins on each level, you drag and drop the designated materials (wood, rock, bronze, silver, gold) into the right pattern on the grid to “craft” an item and clear those materials from the board. Each item crafted is worth a set number of points, and the goal is to reach a target score before the timer expires.

As you advance through the levels, the point threshold for victory becomes progressively higher.  The number of material types grow, while the number of each individual material tends to shrink. These challenges are more than offset by the fact that the time limit also grows and that you unlock newer and more complex blueprints that are worth more points.

And that’s a concern. The difficulty curve in this game is non-existent. In fact, the game gets progressively easier as time goes on. While there are many blueprints to consider, there are also a number of high-value yet easy to craft items that you can spam for maximum points. Once you identify them, you’ll end up cruising. After the first few levels, I was never in danger of hitting the time limit, and after the last blueprints were unlocked I found the mystique wearing off all too quickly.

TerraCraft has some things going for it. For a ham-handed iOS gamer like me, the touch controls were much more responsive than I expected. I rarely had to redo moves. The game also sports OpenFeint integration, which gives some leaderboard support. While there’s only one main theme to listen to, the music was catchy and appropriately conducive to getting my pickaxe zen trance on.

The game is ad-supported through the first few levels, but an in-app purchase of $1.99 is required to unlock the full game and get rid of the ads. For myself, I don’t mind the use of ad-supported demos in general, but they should never directly impede the gameplay. There’s no issue on the main menu here, but once you get to craftin’, the ads partially obscure the bottom row of the grid. It’s possible to work around them but hardly a welcome means of promoting your IAP.

TerraCraft succeeds in its stated goal of providing a Minecraft spin on the puzzle genre, but the game really could have used an additional layer of complexity to create a difficulty curve and provide some longevity to the title. Why not flood part of the grid with water or lava tiles from time to time to change the shape of the playing field and force you out of relying on certain patterns? Maybe introduce an enemy tile that eats points until you craft the appropriate item (sword, shield, etc.) to destroy them?

While I was definitely left wanting, it certainly can’t hurt to give the free portion of this game a try for yourself. The Minecraft oriented theme, gracious lack of user-generated phallic sculptures, and chilled-out crafting action may be right up your alley. Personally, I’d rather punch a tree.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://twitter.com/mguniverse Danny Perski

    Art style looks a tad inconsistent. :/

  • http://twitter.com/mguniverse Danny Perski

    Art style looks a tad inconsistent. :/

  • Anonymous

    The blocks could have been the usual gems or any material as this is simply a 3 Match-like game,  except your forming shapes. Obviously cashing in on the Minecraft craze - looks to be lacking any sign of fun.

  • Anonymous

    The blocks could have been the usual gems or any material as this is simply a 3 Match-like game,  except your forming shapes. Obviously cashing in on the Minecraft craze - looks to be lacking any sign of fun.

  • http://friendfeed.com/seiromem Seiromem

    hahaha, notch. I see what you did there...

  • Johnnycash

    Not trying to be mean but the whole point of minecraft is exploring and building. So why not have a MMORPG game where everyone start with max level and best gear. Or better yet lets play a puzzle game where everything is already solved. This game shouldn't even be posted as a minecraft related clone.

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  • Arianesoftinc

    Hi, I am the developer behind TerraCraft. Sean, your review was really well done, you understood exactly what TerraCraft is and what it is meant to be. I enjoyed reading your ideas and comments to improve the game. I will update it with better difficulty ramping (balancing).

    @08eb0c7034891937bdd46b5533a15762:disqus TerraCraft is far from being a Minecraft clone, not intended to be at all. It is a puzzle game inspired by Minecraft.

    • Arianesoftinc

      I'd like to inform all of you that we have just submitted version 1.1 to Apple with the following new features:

      - New monster blocks added. - Object's attack and defense values added. - Balanced objects values. - New Water and Lava blocks that cannot be moved, to add some difficulty to the game. - Version number is now displayed at top left of menu screen. - iAds not interfering with the game play anymore.

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TerraCraft Reviewed by Sean Carey on . Rating: 2.5