There’s not much to say that hasn’t been said already about Notch’s open-world/sandbox/survival baby. The birth of Minecraft can be considered gaming’s very own Concord moment, the effects of which can be felt 10 years into the game’s lifespan.
Attesting to its legacy is the sheer number of custom maps, skins, mods, and massive worlds floating around in cyberspace, pushing its expiration date way beyond what the game’s original creator intended in the first place.
Like in the case of any top-selling hit game, copycats are bound to start sprouting like mushrooms as soon as the public gets a slight whiff of success, and Minecraft was no exception to the rule.
While most of these can be written off as nothing more than cheap knockoffs, there are some gems among them that use Minecraft’s already well-established formula merely as a starting point, from which they branch out and add just enough unique elements into the mix to distinguish themselves from the real McCoy.
So, if you feel like you need to take a break from fighting off creepers and the Endermen, or are simply looking for something in the same vein, here’s an extensive list of Minecraftian games that might just do the trick!
The order in which the games are listed below is absolutely random, meaning they aren’t ranked in any way whatsoever. With that in mind, let us commence…
Making a list of games resembling Minecraft without mentioning its unofficial grandfather would be considered a crime in our books, so prepare for a quick history lesson.
Back in 2009, a developer by the name of Zach Barth had been working on a peculiar game called Infiniminer. Set in a cuboidal world, this team-oriented game had you and your teammates racing to mine and collect the most ores and minerals in randomly-generated caves.
The team that acquires the goal amount of minerals in ca$h first wins the round and a new world is generated for the next one. Along with competitive mining, the game featured a multiplayer sandbox mode, allowing players to create and build whatever they desired.
Everything was going smoothly, and the game looked promising, despite its bugginess. But alas, in his haste, Zach accidentally released the source code into the public, leading to the disbandment of its small but dedicated player base due to a huge influx of newer, more buggy, and more glitchy versions of the game. Saddened by this unfortunate turn of events, Zach decided to abandon the project and make it open-source, thereby sealing its fate and effectively putting an end to a creative sandbox that never was.
In many of his interviews, Notch stated that Infiniminer served as his main inspiration for what was later to become Minecraft, which becomes more than obvious upon taking a look at the screenshots of the game. Infiniminer remains untouched as of April 2009 and can be downloaded for free from Zach’s old website here, in all its buggy and glitchy open-access glory.
Today Infiniminer serves as a gaming monument to not only what could’ve been, but also what eventually became of its original ideas. The fun factor is still very much present, despite its myriad of unpatched bugs and overall glitchiness. It’s worth checking out, if for no other reason than to put things into perspective and marvel at how something so small unintentionally gave life to a phenomenon of global proportions.
Infiniminer walked so Minecraft could run!
#2 Stardew Valley
After experiencing the fabled Harvest Moon games back on Nintendo’s and Sony’s consoles, many of its fans were left wondering whether PC gamers would get an opportunity to play the legendary farm simulator series.
Though Light of Hope, released in late 2017, came out on PC as well, it left many series aficionados with a somewhat bitter taste in their mouths, failing to replicate the same feeling that the 5th, 6th, and 7th console generation installments managed to masterfully evoke. Enter Stardew Valley.
Having reviewed this game extensively in our best iPad, Android and tycoon games lists, we’ll try and keep it as short as possible. If you consider yourself a big fan of Minecraft’s farming aspect, then you’re in for quite a treat!
Stardew Valley is the farming sandbox RPG to end them all. The game tasks you with maintaining your grandfather’s farm which you’ve inherited and settled on after leaving your grueling office job behind, and you do that by means of growing fruits and vegetables, grooming and petting farm animals, upgrading your tools and utilities, crafting recipes, mining, fighting monsters, and helping your close-knit community prosper along the way.
Through forming and maintaining relationships with your NPC neighbors, you might gain a much needed helping hand in the field. Should your CPU-controlled pal be deemed insufficient, you can always ask a friend to join via co-op, adding an entirely new dynamic to the game.
After you’ve eventually learned the ropes, Stardew Valley becomes an incredibly addicting and relaxing game, the kind that’s easily playable while listening to a chill playlist or catching up on your favorite podcast. Leveling up and earning money through selling goods always feels like an immense achievement, and most of all, the game never feels like a tedious grind. Instead, you’ll often find yourself enjoying even the most monotonous activities and seeing hours fly past without you even glancing at the time!
Unfortunately, the game’s poorly integrated tutorial system is its biggest weakness. If you have no previous experience playing farming games (no, Farmville doesn’t count), you’re gonna have a hard time figuring out when and what to do. Luckily, we’ve prepared a convenient guide to help get your farm on the right track.
Related: Check out other games like Stardew Valley.
Happy farming y’all!
What would you get if you were to travel back in time to 2009 and submit 30-year-old Notch to a grueling marathon of Greenpeace videos and Greta Thunberg’s TED Talks? Well, we’ll never know for sure, but Eco seems like the closest thing we’ve got so far.
By the looks of it, Eco is the embodiment of every environmentalist’s wet dream. It serves as a perfect tool to bring the masses closer to the ecological issues that plague this little blue planet of ours, presenting them in the form of a multiplayer-oriented open-world survival sandbox game unlike any we’ve seen.
The main goal of Eco is forming a civilization technologically advanced enough to prevent a meteor from crashing into Earth, killing nearly every single life form living on it. The path to salvation is a steep one, and it requires caution, planning, and most of all – teamwork.
You and your friends must work together towards building a functional settlement by using available resources in a thrifty manner. Cut too many trees and you’ll create a huge deforestation problem. Overhunt or overfish and you run the risk of bringing animals to the bring of their extinction. On the other hand, lack of action will prevent you from advancing your civilization, therefore killing your chances of preventing the incoming meteor crash.
Finding that perfect balance is what the game is all about. Through using various different graphs and charts, you’ll start to get the idea of what climate change is all about, while the civilization system allows for unifying players and putting each of their special skills to good use. Carpenters, fishermen, lumberjacks, farmers, etc. all have their own roles in the system, which emphasizes unity and cooperation like few games manage to do. This sense of comradery somewhat alleviates the occasional sense of grinding while you go for an 11th lumber run in a row, though not nearly as much as we’d like.
Eco is currently in early access, so there is some justification for its flaws. The already mentioned grind, coupled with arduous and exhaustingly long building processes, drags the experience down by a significant margin. Still, there’s still fun to be had with Eco, even in its current state of incompletion. Whether this game will be able to fulfill its immense potential – only time will tell. As it stands, keep an eye on Eco, just in case.
Try sending a bag of sorted waste to the developers – maybe you’ll get a discount!
#4 Oxygen Not Included
Minecraft has a knack for putting your micromanagement skills to the test, especially when it comes to keeping your settlement under control, dealing with lacking inventory space, and all that jazz. In case stressing out and juggling between 30 different tasks seems like a blast, then look no further than Oxygen Not Included!
Jokes aside, this game is not for the easily stressed. The satisfaction one gets from successfully avoiding disaster is almost matched by the brutality of defeat, and the two often intertwine in an emotional mishmash to give the player a turbulent experience nonetheless. Your job is to maintain a colony of duplicants (or dupes) by supplying them with food, water, power, and various other utilities that make their lives possible, all the while they work on researching and creating a rocket for them to escape in.
Easy peasy, right?
Nothing could be further from the truth, though the charming art style and often hilarious antics help out a great deal. In ONI, everything is up to you, since the dupes are laughingly incompetent, rebellious rather clumsy, often reminiscent of the infamous Lemmings. They’ll sleep on the floor, gag, vomit, cry, get in fights, urinate/defecate on the spot in case of a missing toilet… you get the point.
Maintaining the colony consists of making simple to complex adjustments where need-be and making sure that they’re working in an orderly fashion. Miss one malfunction, though, and everything falls like a house of cards. A leaky pipe may result in a widespread infection, sealed off oxygen sources tend to suffocate the entire crew, and badly-wired installations will kill your beloved dupes as soon as they make contact. Be wary!
Though many games will leave you stressed out, there’ll always be something that will tempt you into starting a new game and trying to tackle that one headache-inducing problem, and you won’t rest until it is solved. ONI crawls under your skin and never lets go, which is enough to earn a huge recommendation, all things considered!
#5 Ark: Survival Evolved
Playing out as a combination of Minecraft and a prehistoric variant of Jurassic Park, Ark: Survival Evolved is a brutal man vs dinosaur clash simulator that tries to answer the question of whether the caveman would be able to deal with the legendary reptilic giants, or would they squash us faster than you can say parasaurolophus. Truth be told, the latter seems like a much more reasonable outcome, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to try, am I right?
Similar to its blocky survival peer, Ark: Survival Evolved is all about doing all that’s in your might to stay alive for as long as possible. To do so, you must use your environment to your advantage, put any worthy resource you stumble upon to good use, build a somewhat decent shelter, and live to fight another day. See a sturdy branch? Take it off and combine it with any nearby stones to create a primitive ax. Experiment with crafting long enough, and you’ll soon find yourself chasing down raptors with a laser-guided rocket launcher.
Just as you manage to start settling down, tame a few of your very own dinosaur pets, and build yourself a wide array of weapons and armor, a T-Rex comes out of nowhere to chomp on your hopes of survival. Bad luck! Upon respawning, you must run to find your corpse before it despawns, taking all of your precious craftsmanship with it.
A:SE is about as cruel and unforgiving as it gets, and you’ll never feel completely safe due to the constant possibility of carnivorous beasts lurking behind every bush, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.
Adding salt to the wound is the severe scarcity of resources, which makes rebuilding your once-imposing settlement that much more daunting. The constant fear of losing everything in an instant keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout your entire playthrough, which is something adrenaline junkies among gamers would highly appreciate.
Step into the PvP multiplayer arena, however, and things get much, much more barbaric. Not only are you required to keep an eye out for dinosaurs, but the often merciless and technologically superior human players will give you even bigger headaches during your hostile encounters. Often times you’ll find yourself managing to craft your very first weapon, only to be blasted by a plasma rifle wielded by a fellow homo sapiens of quicker wit and better survival skills. On the other hand, once you get the hang of crafting basics and stumble upon just enough resources, you can build your very own 30th-century disintegrator and start blasting away!
The dinosaur taming aspect is the most daunting aspect of the game, requiring your utmost patience and attention for anywhere between a few minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the size of the creature in question. Apart from that, Ark: Survival Evolved is an excellent, unrelenting survival arena whose harsh environments and pitiless conditions present a fun challenge to anyone daring enough to have a dig at this prehistoric battle royale extravaganza.
#6 Portal Knights
Though Minecraft’s more recent spin-offs, along with the latest lore expansions, we have to admit: they still leave a lot to be desired. The narrative aspect of Minecraft was never its main focus, steering more towards giving complete creative and physical freedom to the player and leaving a seemingly endless blocky world for him to explore at the desired pace.
This is where Portal Knights swoop in to save the day, providing a decently constructed plot that gives some semblance to the framework of this open sandbox. Portal Knights strive to tell the story of a world hit by an event of cataclysmic consequence. The Fracture has left the world of Elysia scattered into 47 different separate worlds/areas, and it is up to you and your fellow portal knights (roll credits) to do all it takes to bring the realm together once more.
At the start of the game, you’re given a choice between 3 different classes: Archer, Knight, or Mage. The choice you make doesn’t make too much of a difference in the long run and gives plenty of room to craft a unique build suited to your playstyle and aesthetic preferences. The narrative isn’t on the nose and lets you set your own pace and how you will go about playing the game, so whether you’re in the mood for following the main plot or should prefer exploring and crafting beforehand – it’s all up to you.
Portal Knights have never been about revolutionizing the survival sandbox RPG concept from the ground up, but rather utilizing already-established elements in a well-executed manner, and that’s just fine by us. With support for up to 4 players simultaneously, it certainly sets itself apart from an endless sea of Minecraft replicas and does so rather stylishly. Definitely worth a purchase!
#7 No Man’s Sky
Oh, how the mighty have fallen… only to rise again, without anyone really paying any attention.
The now-infamous disastrous launch of No Man’s Sky has left many of its players disappointed and deeply offended by the sloppiness and deviousness of Hello Games’ founder and general director Sean Murray, and for good reason. Initially, the game failed to deliver on its promises, to say the least, making the public grow tired of it much quicker than anticipated.
Fortunately, the developers have been busy patching the game up to where it was deemed necessary, adding new content, multiplayer elements, and trying to make up for lost money and time in every way possible. In its current form, the game is in a nigh-perfect state, albeit a little too late to catch up with the long-departed hype train.
All you had to do was follow the damn train, Hello Games!
No Man’s Sky boasts an eerily huge, procedurally generated open world for you to explore, visit planets, mine and collect resources, fight off hostile aliens, and slowly expand your galaxy map. The more discoveries you make, the more ‘’units’’ you’ll earn, which you’ll be able to spend on a wide set of upgrades for your equipment. While you will encounter enemy life forms along the way, your main worry should be succumbing to drastic atmospheric changes capable of breaking through your exosuit and ending your expedition right then and there.
This basis seems extremely boring and repetitive, and you have an absolute right to feel this way, as this was what many thought of the game before Hello Games got serious about expanding its content through a slew of major updates. The added game modes, programmable options, multiplayer improvements, and huge content expansions really gave No Man’s Sky a much-needed reinvigoration. Each update leaves the player base yearning for more and wondering what other improvements could be made to this once-atrocious game, further proving the developer’s dedication and their sense of responsibility. Kudos to Hello Games!
#8 Craft the World
Time for a real time sink! Craft the World is a cutesy 2D strategy sandbox that represents the true meaning of the expression ‘hidden gem’. For 5 long years it has been sitting in the unknown, waiting for an uninitiated passerby to give it the love and attention it truly deserves.
Let’s undo the injustice!
Craft the World puts you in charge of a group of dwarves in a desperate struggle to maintain their settlement long enough to find the Great Portal on each level and escape the treacherous alien world they’ve found themselves in. A simple, but effective premise that ensures hours upon hours of pure fun!
Each dwarf has its own name, peculiar look, a unique set of skills, and a specific job to perform, which will determine how you will go about distributing orders and duties across the map. Cooks, mechanics, lumberjacks, fishermen, medics, etc. all have their own little place and purpose in their tiny but well-organized community, and each one can be fitted with unique crafted items and tools to help them perform their duties faster and more efficiently.
Speaking of crafting, there is a broad range of crafting recipes that will allow access to new types of tools, weapons, armor, food, furniture, building blocks, potions… the list is too extensive to fit in this tiny review, so we’ll leave the exploring up to you. If you deem your dwarves too slow and inefficient, you’re free to take control of any particular dwarf at any point in time, and this mechanic practically becomes a norm in later stages of the game.
Your three main goals are as follows: gather resources, fortify your settlement, and fight for dear life. Aside from a great variety of weapons, the ability to cast spells is also a welcome feature that may come in handy during tense clashes with the continuous swarms of monsters, goblins, ghouls, and other gnarly creatures keen on making your dwarves’ lives a living nightmare.
Craft the World enters its sixth year on the market, and the updates keep on coming to this day – a fact worthy of praise and commendation! The content keeps on coming, but the price keeps on dropping and never staying above the $10 mark. This makes Craft the World a fantastic value-for-money title, meriting your undivided attention!
#9 Vintage Story
Minecraft’s modding community is among the most thriving ones out there, with thousands upon thousands of mods being uploaded every day. Many of these mods become nothing more than simple tweaks made in someone’s free time to slightly enhance the vanilla experience. But every now and again, some of them manage to stand out from the crowd thanks to their developers’ hard work and dedication towards making them improve upon the base game in more ways than one.
Others even go as far as completely separating themselves from the game in question in an attempt to branch out even further than intended. The results may vary, and many don’t make it out of the separation phase, but Vintage Story serves as a reminder that no game should be considered perfect, and anything can be improved upon with the right mindset and the tools to do it!
Right from the get-go, it’s obvious that we’re dealing with a game borrows greatly from Minecraft’s blocky aesthetic, and while many would consider this a fatal flaw in their books, we beg to differ. Vintage Story’s ‘cubescent’ (*ba-dum-tss*) visuals are enriched by astonishing effects, such as the emergence of a morning fog around pools of water, piercing rays of sunlight shining down upon the valley side, or seamless weather transitions as stormy clouds populate the cuboid sky.
As far as gameplay goes, Vintage Story’s main goal was to enhance Minecraft’s survival mode experience by bringing it a step closer to realism. In order to accomplish pretty much anything, you’ll need to craft the right set of tools for the job, starting from simple stone-made instruments and ending up with metal weapons made from smelted iron ores. From farm equipment to blacksmith utensils, everything has to be made the hard way.
The manly way! *flexes biceps*
The same goes for food. In order to keep your character fit and healthy, his nutrition should be diversified as much as possible, otherwise, the health boosts will stagnate over time. Your farming soil should also be of your utmost concern, as different types of soil yield varying nutritive values. All of these features combined make for a much slower, deeper, more rewarding playthrough that hits the brakes on Minecraft’s often ludicrously fast progression. Mining with wooden pickaxes? Ha, in your dreams, kid!
As a cherry on an already delicious cake, the lead developer behind Vintage Story, Tyron Madlener, has announced a plethora of new features that are yet to be added to the game, such as better animal AI and path-finding, a player progression system, and seasonal fruits and plants to name a few. The game is spewing with potential, and we’re dying to see how the product will turn out once Tyron manages to put all of his ideas into practice. Fingers crossed!
Think sandbox survival a la Minecraft, combined with the space exploration of No Man’s Sky, and with a hint of weapon crafting in the vein of the aforementioned Craft the World. This description seems mouth-watering on its own, and yet there’s so much more than meets the eye with Starbound!
Everything revolves around roaming the great void that is space in search of planets to explore, ores to mine, aliens to slay, and quests to complete. During your intergalactic endeavors you’ll often encounter a number of NPCs in need of assistance, after which they may join your starship crew and return the favor. Your crew is a great asset, especially in the early game when you’re still learning the ropes, and their abilities can prove to be of great value during clashes with deadly pirate aliens, ghosts, and many unusual creatures lurking beyond the final frontier.
The more you explore – the more you gain! New planets offer new ores, meaning new items, weapons, armor, and abilities to hone. Similar to No Man’s Sky, some planets will remain inaccessible until you get a hold of special space suits able to withstand radiation, atmospheric shifts and fluctuations varying from solar system to solar system.
The only downside apparent is the lackluster and uninventive combat system. A wide variety of weapons is nice to look at and handle, but the constant fights with hostile creatures become rather tedious, as most of them leave you no option but to grab a gun and engage them in battle. It’s a rinse-and-repeat issue that may appear more emphasized among dedicated hardcore gamers.
Taking a casual approach, however, is definitely the way to go with Starbound. Like with Stardew Valley, a laid-back attitude will diminish any of the game’s silly faults and annoyances, such as the lack of any real ship customization aside from the cosmetic aspect, or a lingering sense of repetitiveness after playing the game in sessions longer than a couple of hours. But then again, for a 3GB game of such magnitude in terms of content, there’s not much to be considered fatally flawed, and we’re sure that you’ll have lots of casual, space-exploring fun with Starbound.
#11 Don’t Starve
Don’t Starve has already nested in our hearts by placing itself among our favorite roguelikes, and being that it shares a number of elements with Minecraft, it seems fitting to mention it here as well. Its unforgiving survival aspect is similar to the one we saw in Ark: Survival Evolved is its main attraction, as well as the idea of crafting things seemingly out of thin air, and using everything at your disposal to survive as long as possible.
Time is of the essence in Don’t Starve, meaning that you should waste none as soon as you embark on your task. Speed isn’t everything, however, as you must also be careful not to cause too much damage in your hastiness. Forest fires are a real issue, and will leave you without any firewood to spare should you wield your torch carelessly. It goes without saying that the key lies in finding the right balance of speed and skill – easier said than done.
Whatever the circumstances, surviving nightfall should be your main worry, so make sure that you welcome it prepared to fight (or run) for your life. Don’t Starve forces you to think on your toes and use everything in your surroundings to your advantage. The simple mechanics eliminate any learning curve steepness, meaning that everything revolves around being aware of your condition(s) and acting upon them before they worsen.
Spend too much time without food, and your health drops. Put food away for long enough, and it will become spoiled. Leave your sanity unchecked, and you’ll soon find yourself being easy prey for the Shadow Creatures.
Once you die, the game ends, and you’re forced to do it all from the top. Don’t Starve will leave you feeling dried out and exhausted after a laborious round in the woods, so this certainly isn’t a game meant to be played more often than in short to medium bursts. Still, once you power your machine down, take a shower, brush your teeth, and go to sleep, a minuscule thought will remain lingering on your mind, making you question your last round and analyze every step you took…
Consider yourselves warned!
Yes, the time has come to acknowledge the elephant in the room, also known as 2D Minecraft among other nicknames, and the resemblance is almost uncanny upon first glance. Both are survival sandbox games focused on building, mining, crafting, and hunting, both give the player nearly unlimited freedom of exploring and doing whatever comes to mind, and both thrive on one’s creativity and ingenuity. So, aside from Terraria’s charming sprite-based 2D layout, what’s the difference?
Allow us to elaborate. You see, while Minecraft is a virtually endless world left to the player to explore at his/her own pace and with seemingly no obligatory end goal (the Ender Dragon counts, though somewhat), Terraria relies much more on exploring every nook and cranny in your nearest vicinity, and carefully assessing the resources available for you to use in crafting some ludicrous items.
Though you’re free to roam wherever and whenever you like, the game compels you to make the most out of your surroundings before proceeding any further. Just as you feel like you’re getting the hang of things as you find better-ranked ores, you’ll discover a new, more insane set of tools and weapons to craft and use to your liking.
Terraria is also a very much combat-oriented game, especially compared to Minecraft. Your main goal is setting up shelter able to withstand any potential zombie and floating eyeball attacks after nightfall, as they will surely come and try to get you! Upon establishing your base of operations, it’s time to dig: the bolder you get and the deeper you dig, the more precious loot and materials you’ll be able to gather, so let your pickaxe loose.
Soon enough you’ll start discovering better ores, minerals, and treasures hidden underground, allowing you to upgrade your armor, shelter, and weapons. NPCs will start knocking, offering you goods and services in exchange for some valuable resources. As you can see, Terraria is much more sophisticated that way, and offer plenty to anyone willing to go the distance and see what the world has in store.
There are thousands of YouTube videos showing what people have managed to discover after sinking a couple of hundred hours into the game. Attachable wings, laser guns, bunny cannons (yes, BUNNY CANNONS!), and lightsabers are just some of the things that would be considered outright absurd. The list of things to do and items to find get more and more extensive with each update, which warrants nothing but praise for the developers.
It is currently 8 years into the game’s lifetime, and Terraria has morphed into an entirely different beast from the one that hit the Steam store back in 2011, and in the best of ways. Kudos to Re-Logic for believing in their baby and seeing it all the way through, because heaven knows we’re more than thankful for it!
We’re hopeful that this list will keep your Minecraft-esque needs in check for months (or years) to come. In case your cravings far outweigh our estimates, here’s a quick list of honorable mentions for you to check out:
- The Forest
- Cube World
- Lego Worlds
- Deep Rock Galactic
- King Arthur’s Gold
In case you aren’t bored of Minecraft but simply can’t stand the graphics, you might solve your problem with some quality Minecraft shaders.
It goes without saying that you should feel free to further contribute to the discussion in the comments below, as we’re sure that we’ve managed to miss out on quite a few gems ready to be brought out into the light!