It may take some time when the page for viewing is loaded for the first time...


cover-Tribe: Primitive Builder

Sunday, October 15, 2023 11:51:03 AM

Tribe: Primitive Builder Review (Sethis)

Tribe: Primitive Builder gets a very very slight thumbs down from me, but if 'thumb sideways' were an option, it'd get that instead.
- Looks pretty enough. Not ground-breaking, but has a nice feel to it. Buildings and people feel appropriately low-tech.
- Building is... fun... insasmuch as there's a bit of our monkey brains that gets satisfaction from watching components slot into place.
- Gathering resources is appropriately meaty. Axes go "Thunk" and Pickaxes go "Clang" and the resource deposits break up/trees fall in a satisfying way.
- Good standard survival-genre progression of buildings.
- The survival aspects are very forgiving. This isn't Planet Crafter or Subnautica where if you run out of air you die, and you're not tethered to your base until you tech up enough to overcome it. For some, that'll be a turn-off because it removes part of the "Survive" from survival, but will be appreciated by players who want a more relaxed experience.
- Price. It's £15, which is... fine... for what you get. I don't feel cheated. But I don't feel like I got great value either in terms of £-per-hour.
- Good for kids. No violence apart from hunting birds and small mammals. Simple concepts. No 'bad stuff'.
This is where it gets a bit misleading, because it's going to look like a massive laundry-list of faults. But really none of them are egregious, they just kinda stack up to mean I can't completely recommend the game.
- Length. Completed in 23 hours, probably an hour or two paused in menus while making dinner or whatever. This is scraping the absolute minimum of what I'd call acceptable in a modern game release that isn't Early Access. Further, there's really no reason to keep playing once you complete the story. There's nothing to make me care about my people, nothing to strive for after you launch the boat, no feeling of "I'm sorry that ended, I want to keep going."
- Lacklustre variety and absence of choices. There are about a dozen types of building: Your personal workshop, storage, sleeping huts, gathering huts (including wood, stone, grass, herbs etc), hunting huts (fishing and animals), and toolmakers. That's it. And in each biome, you're basically forced into constructing one of each thing. End of story. There's no ability to specialise settlements in one thing or another. There's no reason to make more than one of anything, and missing out on any building causes the whole biome settlement to grind to a halt because the toolmaker can't make tools because the woodchopper can't eat, because the fisherman can't fish because the toolmaker can't make tools. So you build one of everything, so everyone has what they need to do their job. But nothing else. Buildings can have more than 1 person assigned to them, but apart from storage there was never any reason to.
- Lack of player upgrades. Your 'skill' at mining, hunting, gathering and building improve, which decreases your food consumption/tiredness etc during those tasks, and makes your tools wear out slower but that's it. There's no way to build better tools, move faster, jump higher, or do anything that you can't do at the start of the game. You make a dagger in your first 5 minutes and you're using the same type of dagger when the game ends.
- No cosmetics. The buildings you build are blueprints, so you can't customise their looks. There are no decorative blueprints to build. You can't change how your tribe looks. Nothing. Compared to Valheim equivalents (which is extremely creative when it comes to building) or even the Planet Crafter/Subnautica approach of building modules, Tribe really suffers. It's also very limiting of where you can place your buildings, so you can't really lay your village out in a way that looks pretty.
- Lack of depth. All of the above, plus the lack of any real meaningful story, means I never felt like I'd accomplished anything. I built some buildings, put people in them to do jobs, moved to the next biome, did the same, then the game ended. It felt a bit like working in a warehouse, where you do a thing because someone tells you to do a thing, then you spend 8 hours doing the same thing, and you go home at the end of the week with absolutely no sense that anything you did mattered in any way at all. It feels like a 'filler' game.
- Just about the worst ending to a game I've ever seen. You finish the boat. The leader of every biome pats you on the back (optional). You all get in the boat. The boat leaves on a calm sea. The end. You don't see the island erupt or sink or anything. You don't see yourselves arriving elsewhere. It just... stops. Awful ending to a game.
Final thoughts
In fairness, some people just want a game to chill out. No pressure, no complex thinking, just chop some bamboo and hit some rocks. Fine. This will do that for you. But unless you have a REAL urge to play a survival game on a DESERT ISLAND as opposed to any other setting, then there are better options out there at the same price point (or cheaper, on sale). This feels like an early access game, but isn't. A couple of comments from the Devs seem to indicate they have no plans or roadmap to significantly improve the game. I'll come back to Planet Crafter, Valheim and Subnautica in the future. I won't come back to this. At least not for a long, long time. And that means I have to give it a thumbs down.