raft review | gaming pc

need to know

What is it? An open world survival game where you build a floating base on an endless ocean.
Expect to pay: $20/£17.49
Developer: Redbeet Interactive
Publisher: Axolot Games
Reviewed on: RTX 2080, Intel i7-9700K, 16GB RAM
Multiplayer? Yes
Link: Official website (opens in new tab)

Our oceans are clogged with plastic trash, but here’s a small silver lining: All that garbage is keeping me alive. In open world survival game Raft, which spent four years in early access before hitting 1.0 in June, I turned a collection of floating trash into a floating base—a big, cluttered, ugly floating base, but it’s packed with life-saving amenities and I’ve slowly come to love it like a home.

Just like my raft itself, Raft the game took quite a while to fall in love with. The first few hours were so rough I probably would have just quit if I weren’t writing a review. With just four squares of wood to stand on, I slogged through the opening hours, constantly near death from malnutrition and dehydration, feverishly casting a brittle plastic hook into the waves to fish out every last bit of trash I could, piece by piece. I fought off a hungry shark with a crude spear made from planks, I scurried onto tiny passing islands to gather handfuls of fruit to eat, and drifted slowly and miserably across the sea on a little raft I couldn’t stop or steer or control. Most of the crafting I did was just to replace my basic tools, like my trash hook and spear, when they broke after just a few uses. Those early hours were frantic, stressful, and not much fun at all.

(Image credit: Redbeet Interactive)

But after a few hours of surviving (and frequently swearing) I used my collected garbage to make my raft a little bigger, unlocked new blueprints that allowed me to craft more useful items like a seawater purifier, a fishing rod, and grill for cooking, and without having to worry about death quite so constantly I eventually discovered an engrossing survival experience. I went from wanting to quit Raft to finding it extremely hard to stop playing, and helping me sail through the choppy opening hours into more enjoyable waters was the realization that the river of trash on the endless ocean wasn’t just letting me build stuff. It was leading somewhere.

Hope Floats

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