Reviews - Updated on April 12, 2022

Why do we need video games anyway? The goal of their authors is very simple – to earn more money. The goal of the players is to get various interesting experiences in exchange for the same money. The most common business, and quite profitable. Very rarely, one of the creators of video games sets himself the task of not only filling his wallet, but also investing something more in his creation – something that can find some response in the soul of people, make them think about something really important and going far beyond the scope of the game itself. It is possible to fulfill the plan even less often.

Perhaps the most striking example of this attitude to development is This War of Mine from Polish developers from 11 bit studios. Behind a seemingly simple survival simulator with unpretentious graphics, there was a truly dramatic plot that described the difficult everyday life of the civilian population in a hot spot, and most importantly, constantly put the player before a choice and clearly showed the consequences of his decisions. It turned out to be very reliable – not at all surprising, given the fact that some of the creators themselves have been in a similar situation.

The new development of 11 bit studios, Frostpunk’s city-building strategy, despite a completely different genre and appearance, is all about the same – about choice and its consequences.

Frostpunk game review

Workers have to fight their way through snowdrifts to get to supplies.

glacial period

1886, England. Sudden frosts and snowstorms at the height of summer have become a harbinger of something terrible. Every day it became colder and colder, crops and animals died, and people succumbed to panic and fled in horror to the south, where it should have been warmer. Chaos, hunger and death awaited them. In a desperate attempt to preserve the remnants of civilization, the British Empire began the emergency construction of special heat generators designed to save at least part of the population. The construction was not yet fully completed when a real ice storm hit from the south, bringing with it a deadly cold snap.

You are the leader of a small group that managed to get to one of the generators. Built with the latest technology, the structure can provide heat to an entire city, but for now it is covered with ice and is waiting for someone who can start a complex mechanism and rally the few survivors around him. Your task is to give your people hope for survival. You may have to pay the highest price for this.

Screensavers, visual design, drawings – everything exudes cold and the atmosphere of the ice apocalypse of the century before last. The survival of a small group of people in isolation from the rest of the world is not a new topic in video games, but in Frostpunk the authors managed to create an original setting, decorated with hints of fantastic steampunk and the Victorian era. Atmosphericity is at the highest level, and without any commercials full of special effects. It turns out that drawings are enough for this – the exhausted faces depicted on them do not let us forget that the life of our wards is bleak and only the hope of keeping warm does not allow them to give up.

Don’t sleep, you’ll freeze!

The only source of heat is the same generator located in the center of the settlement. If it works by burning coal and giving warmth to the surrounding world, then people get the opportunity not to die from the cold and at least somehow provide for their life. The farther from the generator, the colder. Frost does not allow anyone to work normally, it can also cause illness or death, and some buildings cannot function at all in the cold. Coal is much more valuable than gold in this icy hell.Frostpunk game review

Sometimes people will turn to their leader with such requests.

In addition to coal, there are several other resources – wood, steel and food. The first two can be mined from the remains of some structures, apparently left in the area from the time of construction, which did not have time to complete on time. Hunters get food by killing animals that can be found in the icy desert.

When the generator is running and providing heat to a small area around it, it is worth thinking about the further development of the settlement. Of course, the first priority is the continuous mining of coal, because without it you will simply freeze. Steel and wood are used to build various buildings, such as a hunter’s house, a kitchen, and an overnight barracks. The list of available buildings does not end there: there is a hospital, a shelter for children, a warehouse and even a cemetery. One of the key buildings is the workshop: it is here that engineers work on the development of technologies that increase the chances of survival.

People work and rest, gradually more and more buildings appear around the generator, life is in full swing in the city during the day, and there is a short lull at night … It looks like an ordinary city-building simulator, if you do not take into account the nuances associated with cooling. But not everything is so simple.

Extreme remedies

Your charges are not just faceless “units” that obey your every order. Everyone has a name, a specialty, and sometimes even family relationships. Most of the settlers are ordinary hard workers who do menial work. Carrying supplies, hunting, obtaining wood or metal – all this is their concern. There are noticeably fewer engineers – these specialists are needed for more complex tasks like learning new technologies. Finally, the third type of settlers are children. Initially, they are not busy with anything, but then they can be used for various jobs, both outdoor and indoor.Frostpunk game review

Don’t waste good!

Settlement management is not only the construction of buildings and the distribution of residents to various jobs, but also the issuance of special decrees. For this, the so-called code of laws is used. Although this vault looks like a typical technology tree from similar games, it should not be confused with it (the technology line is also here – in the workshop). This is precisely a collection of various decisions that determine the path of development of the settlement. Most decisions require previous laws to be passed, and some offer a choice of two options. An example with the same children – they can be sent to perform various light jobs (for example, cooking), or you can build a shelter for them. In the shelter, in turn, children can be taught the basics of medicine, and they will begin to help the sick. And if you go along another branch, then juvenile settlers can be involved in any, even the most difficult, work.

The code of laws is a constant choice between production efficiency and the mood of the inhabitants. Don’t think that choosing the one that is most useful in terms of performance will be the best solution. Not only can some controversial laws cause sickness and death (like the hard work decree), but the residents will not always like your choice if it is not in line with their beliefs.

The mood of the settlers can be tracked using two indicators that reflect the general discontent and hope of the people. They change depending on the adopted laws, on the temperature in the areas where people are, on the fulfilled promises, in the end. Yes, sometimes residents turn to their leader with this or that request, for example, to provide everyone with shelter from the wind. They promised, but did not have time to build the barracks on time – get a solid increase in the discontent indicator. If they succeeded, on the contrary, the general hope for survival rises.

As in This War of Mine, you will sometimes have to make sorties outside the city. A special group of scouts goes to those places that seem promising enough to explore. There you can find resources or a handful of survivors who want to join our settlement.

Frostpunk game review

The thermal imager mode allows you to check the temperature in each individual building.

***

In general, Frostpunk looks high enough to count on success. The original setting, coupled with gameplay based on a mixture of genres, may well appeal to those who are tired of soulless “city builders”. On the other hand, this is not RimWorld or Dwarf Fortress, where, despite the deep study of the characters, the plot is created by the player himself, for the most part playing it out in his head. Here you can also tell the original story, and this, as we know, 11 bit studios is quite capable of. Those who want to unravel the mystery of the ice apocalypse that has swept the planet have to wait quite a bit – the release of Frostpunk is scheduled for the first quarter of this year.

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