As Confucius used to say “Study the past if you would define the future” .
One thing that will always have some deep routed love for me will be strategy games. Granted again I grew up with big hitters like the entire Command and Conquer series, with the graphically limited Red Alert being my first real new world introduction into strategy gaming, I can go back even further to when we had floppy and stiffy days where played some beauties like Realms etc. But for the purpose of this exercise let’s stick with ones more people might know about, and I’m pretty confident the Command and Conquer series had a lot of fans, definitely me being one of the bigger ones.Granted this review won’t be about that series but more just a little titbit of my history and where I came from that fuelled my love for gaming so much.
As far as I know this game is single player and in early access stages, so the developers are trying to get the single player aspects all smoothed out and functional before expanding the list of features and other areas. Now this game crossed my path because I play a lot of strategy/simulation games like Banished and the Anno series just to name a few. What made this one a tad more special is it wasn’t like the classic city builders or medieval city managers but more one where you jumped into the future, the world is desolate and destroyed, despair and chaos is just your experience before even had your morning cup of coffee. If you enjoyed or have played a strategy/simulation called Frostpunk and enjoyed it then this will definitely be up your alley. But let’s get into it a bit more shall we?!
After one of the many speculated catastrophes has struck earth (in this case someone had an itchy nuclear trigger finger), and most of the major city’s have been wiped off the face of the earth. You and a small group of survivors have well… survived and now have to re-build and prepare/safeguard your colony against the fallout of this now nuclear wasteland and all the new challenges that will be thrown at you and your colony testing your survivability. With this you will also have to make some morally challenging decisions, be it being generous and supportive like giving your survivors some scarce materials to help them rescue someone who fell into a sinkhole under their shelter, to deciding if you can spare the space and food to take in other survivors. Along with that you will also encounter other choices (random events) like slavers who have seen an opportunity for a new business venture that was outlawed ages ago, trying to pawn slaves off on you for valuable resources.
Your survivors that form part of your newly found colony will also have individual identities with their own wants and needs, just to help you form that extra bond with Betty Loo or James Doe, and depending on the difficulty level you choose, the wants and needs will increase and have more of an effect on your colony as their happiness levels change. With that the negative effects of having an unhappy colony will be reflected in them not working at full capacity thus affecting resource production and gathering speeds, so you will feel the pinch of this as you try and stockpile for the next imminent disaster headed your way. Other things that will affect their happiness is how you handle situations that might flare up in your colony. Like with Frostpunk where your colonists might come to loggerheads with each other and depending on the severity of it you can decide the punishment or outcome of such an altercation, noting that it will either have a positive or negative outcome.
Gameplay and Map
Like with all the other survival strategy/simulation games you scurry your colonists to collect and stockpile as many resources as they can from what is available while fighting the elements, illnesses and sometimes extra body part growths that require medical attention. Resources are widely spread across your starter location and will take time to recover and convert into usable material, but that was one element I enjoyed as they don’t make it easy by just dumping you in an area that has ample resources at your disposal (although that might be the case if play on an easier difficulty setting). You also have to keep track of what building or stockpile is assigned to what area, another fun aspect that makes you feel more in control of your colony, with survivors not taking initiative like in other games to stockpile resources and really needing input from you in every aspect. You will also eventually gain access to “Heroes” for lack of a better word, you can send them out on scouting missions on a more global scale, as they explore a larger map with a “turn based” feel to it. Your heroes will have to contend with other bandits who might control resource points critical to your colonies expansion, and they will also have lots of varied expertise. Some of them will be more suited to a combat role while others will be better at scavenging or researching and will be better utilized being brought in after combat to gain more resources or research points.
With that being said you will have to venture out into the great unknown to acquire these research points in order to unlock new structures and technologies, like electricity or nuclear waste clean-ups that litter and limit your colonies expansion. Along with that in the beginning it also helps you to scavenge for resources that you cannot create because of limited structures and manufacturing abilities, so the fact that they made the global exploration very rewarding helps it not feel like an annoying additional/mundane task you have to deal with. This is a survival simulation so there will be no real fixed/climatic ending (not at the moment at least from all the time I have spent playing) and you will have this continuous cycle of just growing your colony and seeing them survive and thrive as you better everyone’s lives. These kinds of strategy games probably only appeal to certain gamers, with no real time combat action to indulge in when you want some proper action like other RTS titles offer, but for those who enjoy theses kinds of simulation games I would definitely recommend picking it up
To close out this and my final thoughts on the game are all positive, as mentioned I would definitely recommend this title if strategy/simulation games are up your alley. With this game being in early access and already being so much fun I can only imagine where it will be once they have a final product on offer, I will definitely be returning to my colony on a frequent basis to see how they are doing and trying to better their post-apocalyptic lives, making civilization great and functional again (within the limits placed in the new world). There will be more than enough elements that will keep you going for a while, enough events during the course of your play to make it challenging for you and trying to re-build as the disasters hit your colony, adding to the fun and playability and even re-playability of the game (starting new colonies and correcting the mistakes made in first playthroughs). I have not had any feelings of boredom or having it just feel mundane to where just have the same cycle repeating over day by day. Definitely one of the few strategy/simulators I am happy to shine some light on and getting more players out there making this game a great one. olor