11 Bit Studios brings us Frostpunk, an innovative city-building game set in a post-apocalyptic frozen England. Time to dig out my boots, snowshoes and put hot soup in my thermos. This adventure looks like it could be a long one.
A band of people gather, they set off to create a new world where they can thrive. It’s very cold and many will not make the perilous journey. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will make it, not only make it, but the people will look up to me and in my hands will be the responsibility of creating the last city on earth and saving humanity. Pressure off, if I fail, no one will ever read the history books.
Frostpunk starts out by giving me three options, I can play a specific scenario from the main game, play endless mode, or I can play ‘A New Home’, the main game as devised by 11 Bit Studios. Well, I jumped straight in to the scenario. I started with a few people, a stockpile where my goods were placed, and a generator. There were a few resources littered around and I had my men collecting some coal and some wood. I fired up the generator, I built a cookhouse, a hunter’s hut, a workshop, medical facilities, tents, the usual stuff. This all sounds familiar to other games, and is essential it is, surely to build a city you need to go through the same process? So how is Frostpunk any different? Well, it’s bloody cold. The weather changes and it gets colder.
Frostpunk is set in an icy wasteland, all you have to do is create a city from what resources you have and make sure you keep the heat on. Each building has a heating level and this is determined by 2 factors, how cold the temperature is outside, and how much heat you provide. When the temperature drops, turn up the heating. Keep an eye on your coal, because when the generator goes out, it gets a whole lot harder. When your citizens die, gathering resources gets harder, running the buildings gets harder, Frostpunk gets harder.
Keep an eye on hope and discontent, if hope falls, so do you and you get banished to the wasteland. Use the laws wisely, these will make life easier for you if you get it right. Make your research count, this is not as easy as it seems, find the right balance to keep everyone alive, working and happy. Decide where your priorities lie and commit to the plan.
The citizens will occasionally make demands of you, you can fulfil them, come up with a compromise, or just ignore them.
Send out your scouts to find other survivors and make your city grow. They will also find other resources that you can use.
What I like.
Well, the generator kicks out heat in a radius around it. Build tents where people will stay warm, sounds obvious really. More people turn up and you need more tents, you have used up the inner circle though, so you have to build outside the heat zone. Upgrade your generator to a larger heat zone, but this consumes more coal, move your resources around to get more coal, but now the hunter’s hut is understaffed and less food is getting to the city. Frostpunk allows you to really micromanage your teams, there is a lot to stay on top of, and it’s not by any stretch of the imagination an easy game. I failed to make it to double digits in days at the first attempt. The pause function is very much needed, think about your next move very carefully before executing it.
I like the steampunk element, the concept that it can be used to save humanity. The world has been created with incredible depth and attention to detail. At times I actually felt like these were the times that existed in the past. I even googled it. I was wrong.
The controls are easy to master, moving around and selecting objects is a doddle, getting information is the same. Frostpunk is cleverly crafted as a lot of simplistic systems creating a complicated overall game. 11 Bit Studios have totally smashed it. Learning how chess pieces move is fairly simple, but mastering a winning strategy, well that’s a whole other board game. The similarities between chess and Frostpunk very evident, though I’m not sure we will be seeing a Frostpunk grand champion any time soon.
What I don’t like.
Frostpunk didn’t come with an actual heater and soft fleece. This was very disappointing.
Frostpunk creates an environment of Victorian steampunk elements with a whole load of snow and ice. The buildings all have unique features that sets them apart. Some of the more elaborate constructions have some nice animations associated with them. The overall sense of cold is portrayed well, and the sense of desperation for warmth is accentuated by the realistic environment. The people walk around, you can select them and find out about them if you wish.
Whilst playing Frostpunk, the atmosphere is enhanced by a very haunting soundtrack. The eeriness of the cold accentuated through your senses. The closer you get to the city, the more the sounds of the daily hubbub are evident, mechanics all working in seamless harmony to provide the resources required to stave off the coldness. Zoom out and hear the howling wind and feel the blizzards whipping against your skin, the essence of cold is all around you.
Frostpunk is a try and try again game, even after achieving success there is the curiosity factor of doing it a different way. There are different maps in the endless mode, to keep you entertained. Frostpunk has made its mark and it is a good one, I can see it being played for many years to come, if not by anyone else, certainly by me, though I suspect I shall not be alone. I want my children to play Frostpunk as it is definitely one of the best city builders around, with the icy twist bringing a new dynamic to the frustration levels.
Frostpunk is in a word awesome, it’s beautifully crafted, enticingly simple and wholly captivating. Words truly do not do the magnificence justice, buy it, play it, love it. Many hours are going to be lost, my children’s names will fade from my mind as I plan my next move. Frostpunk is a city-building game fan’s delight. 11 Bit Studios need to go out and have one hell of a celebration unless that hell freezes over of course.
Frostpunk romps it’s way to an easy Thumb Culture Platinum award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review. We did not receive a warm fleece and heater!!
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