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Utopian Mining


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (162 votes)
Comments (14) | Views (2,737)

JeremyUtopian Mining.jpgHave drill, will travel? Good, because the people of Utopia need your help after a storm has ravaged their once prosperous city. In Utopian Mining, a short mining simulation game by Schulles, you play an adventurous little robot whose motto is "Drill, baby, drill!" Move and drill using the [arrow] keys and press [X] to interact with buildings and people. Save your progress by pressing [X] each time you pass the Tree of Memory, next to the repair shop. Sell your ore and earn money to recharge your batteries, upgrade your drill rig (which will let you to drill longer and deeper), or repair any damages.

Watch your battery level, which drops while travelling underground, carefully as you play; if you get stuck underground without any juice, you'll have to be rescued at a cost of 250 pounds and any ore in your hold. Don't forget your heat levels either! Dig too deep without the right upgrades and your rig will quickly take on damage. When your health bar reaches zero, you'll have to be rescued at the same cost as when your battery dies. If you like, you can play through the missions and rebuild the city, or just drill to your hearts content. It's up to you. If you are brave enough, you might even reach the Core.

Utopian Mining will be too short for most players and the concept is nothing new—perhaps you've heard of Mega Miner or Motherload or this little game that rhymes with "Pinecraft"? But, for those that aren't in the mood to build 1:1 scale replicas of Rivendell or the Starship Enterprise and just want to, you know, dig Utopian Miner will provide just the right amount of casual fun to keep you occupied for an afternoon.

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14 Comments

Is it just me, or is this game strikingly similar to, well... another game almost exactly like this.

Oh, I see there, you mentioned it in the review. I liked the first one well enough, it's just that I can't believe that in the gaming world its ok to blatantly copy someone else's game almost exactly. I realize that there's only so much you can do with a mining game, though.

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I love mining games, and I personally appreciate having more options to play in this category.

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I love mining games too!

Can anyone figure out how to redeem your energy allowance? I keep having to buy.

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Ok, first of all, I'll admit that I played through this game ravenously, since I love games like this.

Here are my three comments, though - first, the upgrade screen was bugged, often not recognizing what you had bought until you went down and came back, especially if you skipped a level. You could essentially waste money buying the same, or lower, upgrades.

Second, the cooling upgrades felt strangely exponential.

The first two upgrades got you nowhere, the third and fourth a bit more, and the last covered like half the depth of the map, much of which was just blank space.

Finally, while the mine-upgrade-mine deeper theme is a great mechanic, games like this feel anticlimactic without a good story, or at least a good conclusion. The story here felt a bit slapped on. The build up to the ending, not just the innovative mechanic, made Motherload great, and it's funny how in the 8 years since that game, only one (Fisher-Diver) has been as interesting.

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The review is right, this is VERY short and VERY easy. I never had a situation where I became trapped, ran out of battery or died from damage. There is no real story, although it started promising.

My biggest complaint however is, what's the use of the "allowance" in the repairshop when you don't get quests that use it?

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ChaoSpectre April 17, 2012 9:24 PM

For those confused by the Energy Allowance, it seems to be a discount rather than a stipend or gift.

The similarities to well known franchises aside, the game itself is interestingly balanced (not well, but interestingly). Of course, things should start out prohibitive in some areas and end by using gained strengths and abilities to overcome obstacles... but this game doesn't present that many obstacles. The obstacles start out steep, but quickly peter out into non-existence.

The first obstacle of damage from heat is easily learnt and strikingly demonstrated, like most other mechanics in this game. The only way to die from damage is to completely ignore the mechanic altogether. Otherwise, as long as you are mindful of your health limit, you don't really ever need to pay expensive repair costs.

The second obstacle of energy expenditure is standard for a game like this, but with such a limited inventory size, there are few circumstances where you might run perilously low (unless of course, you forget about the mechanic altogether).
Also, the costs of replenishing the battery don't scale with the size of your battery (instead simply charging a base rate reflecting % used), so investing in batteries ahead of time appears to be very cost effective. The already easy management of this limitation is made easier by the gracious discounts you receive over the game.

That's really all there is to this game. Two mechanics easily managed. There is an interesting player interaction with the inventory size where you might find the size dwindle in between trips to the surface as you try to fill out your quota for a job, but because the only costs are very manageable, this is never a large concern.

Also, the job rewards are so hefty, that, with a minimum of grinding, you can purchase the most efficient equipment well before the final mission, and even before the largest payout in the jewelry mission. If you realize that there are few incentives to upgrade constantly, the equipment management becomes much easier as well. Some gains are insignificant, such as drilling speed and chassis size outside of what's necessary for jobs, and cooling fluid is ultimately the priority of the game.

All in all, the game serves as a welcome diversion, but nothing more. It could be slightly more engrossing with a few balance changes, but that will have to be a design lesson learned, because saving the threadbare plot and the few operating mechanics doesn't seem worth the effort.

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Neutral0814 April 17, 2012 9:26 PM

I agree, this game is very quick and easy, with no feelings of real excitement. But, it was a relaxing experience, and it was meant to be. I loved the graphics, especially the tiny innocent-looking people, and the calming music was the best for me in this little game.

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ditto on this game being really quick and really easy. Another thing I wondered was why the map was so huge. Walking to the sand is really slow and weird, and it was the first thing I did when I started the game since I saw it on the map and wondered what it was. But yeah, I beat the game and there was just this huge other half of the map that was completely black.

It would have been cool if there were interesting non-ore things to find, because then it could also be an exploration game.

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I love the melodies. It is so relaxing. Do you know who made that and how can I get it?

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hothotpot April 23, 2012 11:34 AM

Does anyone else have the inexplicable urge to mine the whole map? No? ...Just me? Well alright, let me get to that.

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hothotpot April 23, 2012 3:42 PM

Well I did it. Mined the whole world. Would have been nice if there were an achievement for it. Cute game, though! Definitely enjoyed it.

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I don't think the allowance worked for me. 1% recharge for 5 pounds throughout the game.

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