This game takes an interesting approach to storytelling. Although most of the story is player driven, there is an “AI Storyteller” that will give you obstacles to overcome. While an AI storyteller may sound extremely cool, being a game developer myself its a risky feature to add. Keeping a player engaged is difficult, even when an actual plot is written out like in most AAA games. I have played this game for a while now, and backed it on kickstarter for what seems like many years ago. What makes this game’s storytelling so unique is the blend between the player and the AI storyteller. Although i have restarted my colony somewhere around 50 or so times, I never once felt like i had the same story twice. While some people may hate me for saying this, what makes this game addicting is the story you make for yourself. No two games have felt the same with my time playing this game. Whether its me not noticing that one of my colonists is a Pyromaniac and murdering everyone colony including her mother, or a colonist running through fire to save a fellow survivor. Nothing about this game feels canned, which is a true slow clap to the time spent developing such a balanced storytelling technique. This is by far the best story driven experience i have ever played.
While this game may seem simple from the outside it is actually rather complex. There is researching technology’s, relationships between colonists, emotions per colonist, and of course survival aspects. Everything in this game works, while some bugs occur, none of them are at the same level you come to expect from an early access game. However, menu’s are hard to navigate which takes away from some of the fluidity of game play. Getting to some menu’s takes too many clicks, and finding the right object to place is sometimes a hassle. Although in the future maybe search functionality for everything you can build will clear this issue up. Overall the user interface leaves something to be desired, but all of the base mechanics are sound and relatively clear of bugs.
Don’t get me wrong at some points this game can seem slow, no events really happening, you are overstocked on all necessities. But by God, when it rains it pours, and when it pours you have to make quick decisions and weigh the good with the bad. This creates a dynamic on your heels kinda fun. But sometimes the over complicated user interface can get in the way and can take away some of the fun. This occurs especially during the hectic moments when you have to draft all your colonists, rescue people and do some shooting of baddies. This has a good chance of hurting your fun during these times and its really sad because it halts some of the best moments in the game.
So 2D graphics, you either love them or hate them. If you have ever played the game Prison Architect you pretty know what you are getting in the graphics department with this game. It is a very clean art style, and very consistent throughout the game. The particle effects are incredible for a 2D game. Overall my favorite thing about the art style of this game would be that even in 2D everything feels incredibly alive. Nothing in this game feels stationary due to idle animation and weather effects. While some of you might say “Weather effects? Who cares?”, I am here to tell you that it does matter. A lot of times it sets the mood of the game, makes you feel like you are actually there, and entices your brain into thinking “What would I do?”. However, buttons seem like placeholder art in the user interface. This game would be greatly benefited by more work spent into making the user interface clean and intuitive.
Like stated previously, I have made over 50 colonies. I am definitely not on my last one either. Everything about this game screams replay ability. AI story tellers, mental breaks, randomized maps, randomized colonists. I don’t ever see becoming bored of this game, which i believe is a true sign of things to come. In early access this game has more content than 90% of other steam games. If you haven’t picked it up yet i highly recommend it.