In the earlygame, it seems to occupy most of the player's play time.
Later, the player realizes this initial assessment couldn't be further than the truth. Mastering
the controls, environment and rudimentary interations to perform simple sandbox
things is but a droplet of what NC offers. Nodecore is actually a game about exploiting resources and mechanisms to perform more efficiently.
The true depth of NC is lies elsewhere than figuring out how to light a fire.
I like to think of NC being the sum of two gameplay loops: Exploration and Automation.
Exploring in NC isn't like in Minecraft or Skyrim. You explore the small stuff:
mechanics and interactions. Exploration in NC is more similar to fiddling
around with elements in puzzle genres like A Monster's Expedition, Infinifactory
or The Talos Principle. What makes NC exceptional here is that it doesn't present
itself as a puzzle ever, instead as a game where you feel inclined to understand
the nature of the world and environment around you. The eureka moments are precious, worth the many reviews here praising
it. This is a one-time experience, but that doesn't mean you should be completely averse to spoilers.
After all, there's plenty of games where spoilers and community help makes the game much more enjoyable.
What happens when you've done exploring? Well, if it ended there I would have called NC shallow and uninteresting. No, automation in NC defines it in my humble opinion. It is evidently designed with
more intent than the rather the sometimes baffling redstone world. In some ways,
I feel like I'm doing an assignment as you
translate concepts from real-life electric signals to virtual
optics. In other ways, I feel like playing Shapes.io or Mindustry
designing a factory to transmutate materials and calculating its efficiency in various points. Gameplay concepts of designing, iterating and fixing your contraptions is what I truly love about Nodecore.
These praises aside, there are gameplay elements I feel rather lackluster or plainly
boring. In the endgame, you realize that the bottleneck of building a palace or other large projects is none other than you,
the player character with only one pointer interacting with things. Automation in NC
is limited in its current form, leaving you to perform some tasks yourself to fetch
materials. Whilst you can setup stations, tools, infrastructure to make things easy,
you still have to dig things repetitively. Additionally, soaking and a couple of other crafts are very underpowered
leaving me wondering if I'll ever use them for anything other than specific challenge environments.