Exotic matter is an open world adventure game by MoebiusGames. It is currently in early access and is available on Steam.
Exotic matter takes the blocky and malleable world of Minecraft, gives it a hi-tech coat of paint, and mines the bricks from under its feet. Transforming it from a creative sandbox, to a story based adventure game with sandbox elements. You play as a crew member of the ship called the Criterion. A vessel that has recently crashed on the planet Xcylin while on an important mission.
Much of the game’s world is procedurally generated and will be different each time you start a new game. But the Criterion, where you begin, is set in stone. You start the game by visiting various rooms of the ship, each one giving you a bit of lore and backstory about the crew and their mission while teaching you some of the basic mechanics you need to succeed. It’s a pretty fluid and engaging way of showing you the ropes without being too overbearing or giving you too little information to work off of.
The aesthetic doesn’t make the world feel very alien.
Its mechanics are pretty basic but work well. You can mine resources and obtain bricks. You can then replace the blocks you mined to build whatever you wish. You can craft a number of items in your own suit inventory by combing multiple resources. More complicated designs require you to use a replicator with a blueprint. You can find blueprints by exploring the world and following the game’s story.
That’s the really big difference with Exotic matter compared to other similar titles. It aspires to be an adventure game with a storyline first. But gives you a sandbox and shapeable open world, and supplies you with the tools needed to reshape it while following the storyline.
The tutorial is pretty nifty.
Once you get the basics down, the game gives you a waypoint that you can follow. Do that and you find more computer terminals to read with more backstory and some precious blueprints. Eventually, it will lead you to an unknown facility for you to explore. The overworld itself is procedural and can vary pretty wildly. I encountered a lot of verticality on my planet, so I needed to build bridges and other small structures out of blocks so I could advance to my objectives without falling to my doom.
The building is intuitive and simple, mostly just plopping blocks down and stacking them. You can place them a good distance away from yourself, which is incredibly handy when making yourself a path to walk across when you are high up.
There is also a day and night cycle, and it gets pretty dark in the game, making traversal dangerous and tricky. Luckily you can acquire and make lights that you can place around to help you navigate. Visually the graphics are crisp and clean, but the world is, of course, blocky by nature. Inside a facility or ship, it’s not noticeable. But on the surface, the art direction doesn’t lend well to the theme. You don’t really feel like you are on an alien world.
This is exacerbated in the lack of any kind of wandering wildlife. There are some drones that roam about and occasionally mine and place blocks. But the planet can feel lifeless overall.
The sky looks beautiful at night, which was an unexpected but nice surprise. The atmosphere, stars and nearby planets all look great. I also found the music in the game to be pleasantly well done and nice to listen too, something that can usually be glossed over in indie titles.
The overworld is mostly devoid of life, except for these little guys.
You can do a good bit of building and the systems function pretty logically. You can make doors that open on a switch and more for example. Outside of quenching your own creative thirst, there isn’t a lot of point to creating buildings right now. You don’t really need shelter from any danger and there aren’t any survival elements to speak of. The mandatory building is to simply move around the environment. The creative parts of the game do function well, and its always fun to find a new blueprint.
Blueprints can be used in a replicator to craft a variety of items, like new laser drills for example. I also enjoyed how certain aspects interacted. You hold credits in your hand to activate vending machines or point a device to configure electronics. You can create weapons too, and there is at least one aggressive enemy in the game so you will need them. In true Minecraft style, you can go delving into the deep for rare resources like uranium. If you die you do lose your gear, however, so be careful.
The technological crafting aspects are interesting.
Everything that Exotic matter attempts to do, it does competently. Its main issue is a lack of content. It just needs more of pretty much everything in terms of, items, locations, story, and creatures. In its current state, it won’t take you long to run out of the storyline and things to do, aside from building. But the game is in early access of course, and to an extent, this is to be expected. I also encountered a nasty bug that wouldn’t let me load a save which was a real bummer.
A couple of other issues were present. If you fall down a dark hole and don’t have any light blocks, it can be difficult or impossible to get back out. Water doesn’t actually have any physics right now. It doesn’t drain or leak if you mind the blocks containing it.
It plays nicely, however, and its hi-tech systems in a blocky malleable world are intriguing, as is the adventure style concept Exotic Matter is setting up. But it will require a lot of updating to become something that can stand alongside its inspirations. It released in July and has already received a couple of large updates. I’ve been told that more are coming after the new year, including workshop support, which would be an incredibly powerful tool for this game.
But early access is always a gamble, for both developers and consumers. It is currently $19.99 on steam and I find that to be a bit pricey in its current state. Though at the time this article is published, it’s on sale on steam for $ 5.99, much more appetizing.
If you enjoy games like Minecraft, it is a no-brainer you will enjoy Exotic Matter, and the game has laid down a very solid foundation. It’s up to MoebiusGames to mine it out and brick it up. So while I don’t recommend it at full price. If its concept interests you at all, get it while its on sale, or at later one and make sure you follow the game’s development. MoebiusGames seem to be very responsive with the community and they have a discord channel you can check out. Keep an eye out for updates.
A key for Exotic Matter was provided for GideonsGaming by MoebiusGames
- Neat concept of adventure crossed with sandbox.
- Hi-Tech Minecraft is fun.
- Interesting backstory.
- Easy to use interface and building controls.
- The world doesn’t feel alien.
- Lack of content, such as wildlife hurts the experience.
- You run out of story content quickly.
- Nasty save bug.