After Minecraft took off, many different indie developers began to explore the new genre it had opened up, focused on gathering resources and building, or exploring through randomly generated worlds. However, not all of them ended up being knock-offs—here are the top five games of the genre, each with their own unique features that distinguish them from the rest.
StarForge is a free-to-play game in its first stages of development. In it, you collect resources to build a fort that protects you from alien creatures or other players. It has wonderful graphics compared to the other games on this list, and the gameplay is slightly more realistic. As you build, the texture and structure of the materials changes depending on their setup, such as adding support beams or extra planks, giving them a more realistic effect. The game is still in development, but it offers a unique experience for players who want more action as they build.
4. King Arthur’s Gold
This game centers around two teams building their own forts and destroying the other team’s castle. Like Terraria and Minecraft, players have to find resources before they begin building, and are limited only by what they can scavenge. Unlike the other games in this list, physics actually come into play, and destroying the base of the 2D walls will cause it all to fall down—along with anyone who was on top of it. It’s an interesting multiplayer take on the genre and even the free version feels like a full game.
Spelunky is less about acquiring resources and more about exploring the randomly generated underground terrain. Much like the Indiana Jones movies, you have to put up with traps, strange enemies, and ancient conspiracies. Death is permanent, but you still gain skill as you play through the game, and reaching the end is much more satisfying than a game that allows saves. The multiplayer is similar to Bomberman, where you spend most of the time throwing things at opponents or trying to strategically trap them.
Terraria starts out similar to Minecraft: you have a large, randomly generated world to explore, and the initial goal is to create a house to protect yourself. However, it also has magic to help you during battle, unique monsters that lurk in the depths of the game, bosses that will appear when you stray too far from your home or summon them, and a leveling system that makes it more like a typical RPG. There are many more monsters to deal with, and a whole economy of NPCs to interact with (once you figure out how to attract them to your home, that is).
Although it’s not the first of its kind, it is the game that started the trend, and has plenty of elements that earn it the top spot on this list. You spend most of the time gathering resources, and the rest of it building with said resources. For people who aren’t satisfied with building, there’s caves and dungeons to explore underground, and an area eight times the surface area of Earth to explore each time you generate a new world. There’s also a final boss to worry about, but frankly, most of the game will be spent doing the same thing you did on day one: building and expanding your home.
Honorable Mention: Infiniminer