Iain Plays
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Review: Frostpunk

Hell’s Teeth! #

It starts off cold in Frostpunk. –30°C/–22°F very quickly feels like a Newcastle night-oot with t-shirts being the maximum level of PPE. It takes us to the end of a steampunk-era world experiencing an unexpected(?) ice age. Where’s global warming gone? Replaced by climate change it seems. And the mercury tumbles still.

“Our band of survivors is led by me as Captain, and it’s okay, because I’ve played loads of 4X games in my day. See. Oh, dear. While I wasn’t looking, we ran out of coal.”

“What’s that? It’s not we now? You’re banishing me!? Hold on…I did my best.”

Being banished in Frostpunk.

Frosties…they’re br-r-reat #

Frostpunk keeps you very much on your frostbitten toes at all times. You’re always in a race against the clock to avoid resource depletion. Run out of coal, and you slowly freeze to death. And as your workforce succumbs to illness, production capacity decreases, dwindling all resource gathering until you’re starved and completely unable to gather coal, food, wood, or steel.

Quickly then, build some tents and get your beacon raised to scout the overworld for more resources and survivors. Precious steam cores can only be found out there. We’ll need those for the fancier buildings and War of the Worlds scale automatons which are less efficient than humans but work 24-hours (minus coal breaks).

You did What? #

I’ve sent out all my workers, and my engineers are busy, beavering away at important research which will allow me to harvest more resources, easier. It’s like second nature to us humans…

Opening the book of laws, it looks like I’m not accountable to anyone. So, I can make some pretty radical changes in this new world order. Well, kids, it’s not like there’s anything else to do, so off you go to work. And we could probably use those dead bodies to fertilise our crops, harvest the good organs and transplant the lively limbs. Loads of frostbite you see.

Frostpunk Tech Tree

Bloody Londoners #

The game’s well afoot, and I’ve kept both mine this time (onto my second run now). Some people aren’t happy about how I’m running things. Well, we’ll just see about that. These so-called Londoners think they can just tootle off back to London? The grass isn’t green anywhere, and certainly the safest place on this earth is right here. But some people are just never happy. Always got to be moaning about something.

So, I can either create a militaristic society, or go the religious route. Well, I’m trying to foster a sense of unity and community, so religion will surely be nicer than militia. Okay, I’m going to bed now for a rest. It’s been a hard day.

…[H]e’s just a very naughty boy #

Erm…now my followers are raising an ersatz crucifix in the centre of our settlement and flagellating Londoners and all-sorts. At least I’ve kept them alive, even if all hope is lost, and they’re cowed and unhappy.

On the plus side, I’ve been able to create three automatons, working the Advanced Coal mines, and R&D has progressed to the point where everyone is well-heated and fed. Just toughing out a worsening storm. And adapting to accommodate hundreds of refugees.

“Ah-ha! WE have survived.”

We have survived in Frostpunk.

In Review #

A gripping game for its baker’s dozen hour playthrough. The world is well-realised, and the ethical quandaries give pause for thought. In my case pragmatism smothered humanity (it is a game, after all.) I was chastised for this in the ending. I’ll return to it after I’ve thawed out, to see if there’s a goodie-two-shoes playthrough (which I’m guessing will be much harder than lawful evil).

The intensity of the resource management, and race to survive and progress is game design perfection. I loved that there’s no combat element to the real-time strategy, so I can focus on the survival of my own settlement and not have to worry about external factors.

I think this is a one-shot masterpiece. A must-play. And as it’s on Microsoft’s incredibly good value for money Game Pass, there’s little excuse for you, dear reader, to try it out.

Special thanks to my friend Lloyd (@Lod_hal), without whom I’d never have been recommended or have heard of this fine game.