Released 20th July 2023, Homeseek is a post apocalyptic colony sim developed by Traptics and published by The Iterative Collection – with QA credited to iXie Gaming. Homeseek is a new venture for Traptics, whose previous games were both 2D. Being an avid fan of colony sims, I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on this one.
June 6th – 2101
“Born, bred, and educated in underground bunkers, we emerge to stake our claim on the sparsely inhabited surface. What awaits us is a wasteland ravaged by drought and scarred by ancient wars. It may not be as devoid of life as we had imagined, but that does not make it any less perilous; end even where the barren land meets sea, the undrinkable water only taunts us more.”
First up, let’s talk story. Rather than an ‘everything all at once’ approach, Traptics deliver our story in chapters. There are 5 in total, with each completed chapter sequentially unlocking the next – pretty standard stuff.
Without going too in-depth and spoiling all the fun; Homeseek tells the story of humanity’s reclamation of the Earth. Being selfish and irresponsible, humans have severely depleted the world’s supply of safe drinking water. War, famine and drought soon followed, forcing most of humanity underground. Generations later.. the push to reclaim the surface has begun, but in a world scarred by wars and ravaged by drought, hard challenges await.
Although story driven, Homeseek is by no means an easy game. I recently played Ixion – and this reminds me of that. Failing multiple times is really the only way to learn, as each failure brings with it a harsh but needed lesson. This steep learning curve means Homeseek is difficult and unpredictable, but engaging and fun – the player really has to work for it. Strategic planning and forward thinking are the key to success. Thankfully though, there’s easy, medium and hard difficulty – so if you’re new to this style of strategy game, consider starting on easy.
Your main goal is to establish, expand and maintain a healthy colony above ground. To do this, you’ll need to; manage your workers, plan for environmental hazards, provide food & water, survive enemy raids and advance your colony’s technology. In this harsh environment, the value of a resource is determined by its scarcity and the impact it has on human life. Water is everything, as an overpopulating human race has all but wiped drinkable water from existence.
Challenges you’ll face include a lack of resources, worker management, overcrowding and unpredictable events. Can your settle handle an influx of survivors, should they turn up at your gate? No? Well, how will your colony feel about you turning them away? These are the sort of things you need to plan for if you’re going to be successful.
A unique feature of Homeseek is ‘streamer mode’. From the game’s home page, you’re able to log in to your Twitch account to enable streamer mode. There’s also a discord link where you can join the games community and a bug report button. Now I don’t stream, so if you know how/what this mode is feel free to leave a comment below!
Graphics & Audio
My Ryzen 5, RTX 3070 with 16GB RAM was ample power for this one. The minimum specs are; 3.2GHz CPU, GeForce GTX 660 and 2GB RAM.
Striving for a mostly photorealistic finish, polycounts are high enough to achieve some decent visuals but low enough so the game won’t lag as your settlement grows. There are some minor issues, like occasional clashes in graphical style… It sometimes feels as though models are from different asset packets, as 1 item can feel totally different from the next. But in all honesty, it’s not a huge issue.
As you’d expect from this type of game, our HUD contains all of the usual elements; a timer – with manipulation options, various statistic panels and building selection windows. Our goals/missions are also neatly presented to the side. One thing I admire though, is the steampunk-style graphical overlays and menus. It really fits with the theme and brings a dystopian feel to the game world.
Audibly, Homeseek is eerie and atmospheric. Mildly creepy music plays throughout, really setting the mood and complementing the dystopian graphics. Sound FX is well developed and fits perfectly with what’s happening in your settlement. You can hear workers hustle around construction sites, it really feels like you’re right there with them.
Although there’s no real voice acting, something that really stood out to me was the quality of the writing. Through real-time transmissions, players are kept up to date with things like expeditions. None of these feels rushed or forced, everything is well-written and flows with the game. Kudos to the writers.
Being a very strategic game, longevity will depend on a few factors; such as your approach to problems, your patience and your planning. Players who plan 5 steps ahead are bound to be more successful than those who rush their decisions. You really need to analyse each scenario, read the script and make educated decisions based on your settlements capabilities. If you really want to make the most out of Homeseek, take it seriously. This isn’t Zoo Tycoon… wasting resources and placing buildings in poor locations can have serious consequences.
Homeseek boasts some brilliant writing, good graphics and terrific audio. With a quick but believable backstory and clear influences from games like Frostpunk, it’s a solid entry in the colony sim genre. There are plenty of original touches and mechanics, but the game stays true to its roots and provides one of the best dystopian, post-apocalyptic colony sim experiences I’ve had in a long time.
I would’ve liked more voice acting, especially from whoever did the voice-over for the trailer. Overall though the game felt immersive, responsive and definitely challenging. But more importantly, it was fun.
I award Homeseek a Thumb Culture Gold Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.