|Developer||Publisher||Release Date||Reviewed on||Genre|
11 Bit Studios
11 Bit, Merge Games
Apr 2018 PC - Oct 2019 Console
City Building, Survival
Frostpunk takes away the familiar RTS enemy hordes and turns down the heat to create a PvE survival/city builder/strategy game that makes you think before you act.
When first firing up this icy challenge, I had no idea just how much depth there would be, and just how many different ways I could decide to run my snowy society.
In fact, the latest experience I had with city building was with They are Billions, and it is a vastly different adventure with just as much pressure.
Quick tip for any players who may not have a solid background with this format- Dial the difficulty down! Luckily 11 Bit has provided plenty of options to alter just how severe the environment will be, how needy your people are, and so on.
Again, if you are not perfectly capable with unforgiving strategy games, make use of these settings and make your life a bit easier.
Set in a future where humanity is almost extinct due to an ice age which we set off, you’re tasked with leading what could possibly be some of the world’s last surviving people. London was the last city to be abandoned, and seeking refuge in a large crater your people construct a giant coal powered heater.
It is here that you must set up your final frontier, scavenge the icy wasteland for resources and survivors, but most importantly maintain a sustainable government, health system and economy.
During the day, your villagers head to work in harsh conditions, hunting, gathering resources or feeding the masses. At night, the temperature plummets to an uninhabitable level, creating a deadly situation for sick or weak folks.
Creating tents for people to live in, roads that make them accessible, and staying close to a steam power source is a constant battle, and if you don’t keep up with these menial tasks your people will start to make some noise about it in the form of a timed challenge to fix the problem.
In most cases, you’re given a band-aid solution and a more thorough and tougher option to choose between.
You also have the option to ignore them altogether, but be careful as the selection you make will influence the town’s Discontent and Hope level.
These levels are displayed as two large meters along the bottom of the screen, and every decision you make will alter them. This is your worst enemy, and if you’re not careful it is entirely possible to set in motion a chain reaction that will see Hope plummet. When this happens, your people will lose faith in your ability to lead them, and will banish you into the cold, essentially handing down a death sentence. Real nice right? “Oh you didn’t like that everyone needed to work a little longer to make sure we had enough resources to bunker down for the coming blizzard?”.
Early in Frostpunk you will focus most of your attention on building the bare essentials, and assigning workers to stockpile coal, steel, and wood, while others are put to work as hunters or cooks. Everyone has a place, and they all need somewhere warm to live and work. If you fail to keep the temperature at an optimal level, your people will begin to get sick, requiring treatment at a medical outpost. There are a lot of moving parts that tie in together, and limited hours in the day.
At night, temperatures fall to unbearable levels and as such the people of your town will be staying indoors and close to the giant heater outside of work hours. This all makes for a slow beginning as you fight against not only the cold, and limited resources, but also the clock. Building accomodation or upgrades doesn’t take much time, but when you don’t have many workers to spare you are forced to move them around and share them between different duties so there might not be much happening for the first few days while you get a basic camp set up.
Upon expanding your settlement past these basic requirements, more people will start to emerge, and rumors of survivors still lost start to circulate. You will send scouting parties out to explore which allows you to focus on the town, while giving the scouts instructions as to what their next move should be.
One of the more interesting parts of Frostpunk are the decisions you make to shape the society itself. These decisions range from forced child labor laws to help with filling empty roles, to allowing drinking and fighting in clubs for entertainment and raising of spirits. But it doesn’t stop there, you will make choices related to religion, retirement, and rationing of food.
There are harsh choices you will need to make for the good of your town, and as it expands, there will be more mouths to feed, more funerals to attend, and a strong need to streamline what started out as a simple camp in the snow and has now become a bustling city. The only question is, will you be willing to ride out your people’s discontent, or will you cave to keep their hope up?
It’s nice to not be worrying about an enemy force getting stronger by the minute and planning an invasion that will destroy everything we have spent so much time building, but the cold is possibly more difficult to defend against. There were times I found myself getting comfortable with how the town was developing, the rate at which we were stockpiling all the necessities, and didn’t see the cold snap coming that would require additional heat to be provided in all of the workplaces in order to keep them operating. There was barely enough to go around as it was, and now I had to stretch the resources and staff even further to make the required upgrades and research the tech.
So, don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable, your people will throw your curve balls and sometimes when the situation is already at breaking point, it’s going to be a struggle to figure out how to keep the town satisfied.
This is a beautifully developed game, with complex twists and turns that will keep you on your toes, well deserving of a high rating and highly recommended. Oh and, bee tee dubs, there is a photo mode!