Reviews - Updated on April 8, 2022

Post-apocalypse is one of the favorite topics for many modern writers and screenwriters, including game ones. Whether it’s a global catastrophe, like in Fallout, or some kind of local disaster, like in Escape from Tarkov or Dying Light, stories about survival in extreme conditions are always popular. Typically, these games are either action or RPG, and most often a mixture of these genres. The announcement of Surviving the Aftermath from Iceflake Studios looked all the more interesting: a strategy, especially a city-building simulator in the entourage of a post-apocalypse, is no longer so hackneyed.

You can try the game as part of the early access program, and its release is scheduled for the end of 2020. Whether the strategy is worth waiting for its full release, read in our material.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

What exactly happened to our civilization in the gloomy future of Surviving the Aftermath is not reported to the player, but there are only few survivors left – as is customary in such stories. We are entrusted to manage a handful of survivors who find themselves face to face with all the dangers of the new world. The initial population of our village can be influenced during the selection of settings at the start of the game: the number of people and resources, the frequency of cataclysms, and other subtleties that replace the usual “Easy / Medium / Hard” switch are available for change. But there is no choice of starting point – we are content with generating a new map.

The first thing the game warns us about is that among the settlers there are children who do not work, but require the same living conditions as the rest. We’ll have to provide, look for food and build houses – the basis of any urban planning strategy. With the first, everything is more or less standard: we have gathering, fishing and game hunting. It is a pity that, with the exception of picking berries, the process itself is not displayed in any way externally – that the fisherman’s hut, that the hunter’s house are just a building that from time to time adds a unit of food to the treasury of resources. It looks rather shabby even compared to Stronghold years ago, in which the hunting process was simulated from start to finish.

With the extraction of other material reserves, things are better: for example, foresters regularly cut down trees (because of which wood may well become scarce if you do not take care of planting seedlings). A rather transparent hint at the now popular topic of environmental pollution is immediately striking: in StA, the simplest resources are obtained by fussing in numerous landfills and dismantling old buildings. In addition, half of the map is polluted with radioactive waste that interferes with development – hello to Greenpeace and other “greens”.

Having established production to satisfy the simplest needs (in addition to food and shelter, water should be included here, for the extraction of which wells are needed), it is worth erecting a gate that serves as a meeting place for guests: merchants, vagrants and new residents. No, there will be no walls – just a piece of barricades, a door next to the starting point and a flimsy metal mesh fence around the perimeter of the map. Do not ask where the logic is – as it turned out, developers are very fond of such simplifications and the matter is not limited to one gate.

Surviving the Aftermath обзор игры

The picture could be better – the scale is not so large here to save on graphics.

Lord of the Waste

Among the guests you can meet specialists – special settlers who know how to travel around the global map. It is necessary to study it for the extraction of resources. Chief among them are science points, since it is impossible to get them otherwise. Through research, we will unlock new buildings and opportunities. Such expeditions are not an easy task, because the neighbors are quite unfriendly – sometimes you have to fight.

Battles fall on the shoulders of the same specialists. Here you should pay attention to their specialization – for example, someone shows himself better in battle, and not in reconnaissance of the area, which should be taken into account. The battles themselves do not cause any interest – the simplest comparison of attack and defense indicators, where the strongest wins. After each action, the specialist must rest – on the global map, a turn-based system of action points is used, the supply of which is replenished over time.

Probably, the developers wanted to diversify the game at the expense of two gameplay planes – the actual city-building simulator and travel around the surrounding lands. The idea is good, but the execution sucks. When you have the only hero under control – still all right. And if half a dozen? Notifications that someone is sitting idle are pouring in every half a minute, forcing you to spend more time on the global map than in the village. And what is this time spent on? In most cases, they respond to monotonous orders to go to a new point on the map, and even with the need to wait for the end of the animation of each hero. Unfortunately, there is no automation of the actions of specialists here – for example, there is no way to give an order for automatic reconnaissance.

Nothing happens

However, in the village things are not much more fun. First of all – because of the too leisurely course of events: even setting a high speed does not save (rather the opposite – the faster the heroes on the global map will demand attention). There is nothing to do in the settlement most of the time, except for choosing resource points for mining buildings. There is no need to develop the colony: the inhabitants feel great after a couple of tens of minutes of the game, it is worth providing them with everything necessary – this is not at all difficult.Surviving the Aftermath обзор игры

Jokes with references to other Paradox games were added, but interface scaling was forgotten to be checked.

Cataclysms like drought, magnetic storm or epidemic? They exist, but they are usually easily overcome without starting a spiral of self-destruction, when the loss of one settler or building brings with it increasingly catastrophic consequences. There is no problem of overpopulation, despite the presence of useless children. Firstly, new settlers come very rarely, besides, they can be denied admission to the community, and secondly, the village produces many times more food and water than is required to feed all the hungry mouths.

Lack of resources is not about this game at all. Even science points earned with such difficulty are wasted at random – research does not give something new and does not solve problems, since the latter simply do not exist. The game does not have a motivator for further actions – it is clear that this is a “sandbox” without an end goal, but without an incentive (to improve the quality of life, ensure the safety of residents, and so on), it is not clear why we need to develop the village at all. Its inhabitants feel great without electricity, do not mind raw meat on the menu and living in tents. Each settler has a happiness indicator, but judging by their behavior, its impact on labor productivity is minimal – is it intended or is this a rather serious mistake?

And simplifications, simplifications wherever possible. I don’t even want to compare with such excellent representatives of the genre as RimWorld (although this is more of a story generator than a city-building simulator), the difference is so great. There are statistics, but without graphs and not very visual; there are warehouses for different resources, but without priority settings; you can’t choose specific access zones for settlers or set a daily routine … You can continue for a long time. Bugs, without which early access is indispensable, look like the lesser of evils against such a background.

The only thing that can disrupt the measured life of the village is such cataclysms.

***

Most importantly, the life of the village in Surviving the Aftermath is boring to watch. The same houses, between which the same little men run, carrying the same boxes, is perhaps the only picture available to the player’s gaze. For a city-building simulator, this is a critical flaw, from which neither the original setting nor attempts to diversify the gameplay by traveling around the global map can save. Early Access turned out to be too early, especially considering the fact that we have a project from the developers under the wing of Paradox Interactive.

Of course, Iceflake Studios still has time to fix the problems, but for this she will have to work very hard.

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