The City Builder genre has been dominated by a handful of franchises like Age of Empires and City Skylines for quite a few years now. Frostpunk by polish studio 11 Bit is the latest addition to that basket. Frostpunk meshes survival and city-building elements to make one of the best games of it’s kind. Remember that game, “This War of Mine” which became popular on mobile devices. Frostpunk is by the same people.
Frostpunk is quite similar to, “This War of Mine”. Both games have a post apocalyptic theme with survival elements. While Frostpunk focuses on city building, the latter is more of a resource collection and management sim. Frostpunk puts the player at the head of a community struggling to make ends meet in the freezing cold of the arctic. A cylindrical generator at the center of the settlement is most vital to survival as the frost shows no signs of letting up.
Like every other city builder, Frostpunk has citizens who require food and shelter that in turn needs resources like wood an iron to construct. That’s where the similarities end. I’ll say it up front. Frostpunk isn’t for the impatient. You’ll probably loose at your first couple of attempts, and if you’re not used to these kind of games, chances are you’ll get fed up with it after failing to keep it going after half a dozen attempts.
Frostpunk: A Brutal Survival City Builder
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the mechanics. Frostpunk takes the survival part of the game a step further, and here your people need to be protected from the cold as well. The generator is the key here, upgrading it as the population rises is essential. Despite that people will regularly fall ill, and if you don’t treat them in a med-house they will die. Unlike other resource management simulators where the game ends when all your inhabitants die, Frostpunk adopts a rather harsh system. Here there are two bars, namely hope and discontent that you need you manage. If hope falls to zero, the game ends, no matter how many people are alive and how much you’ve done for them.
Frostpunk puts your morals to the test. You can introduce laws allowing child labor, night shifts and usage of additives in food. It’ll reduce your food usage and your work-force, but discontent will rise and hope will fall a bit too. This game makes you hate the dreaded politician of today’s age a bit less. People will sometimes start causing havoc and some of them will abandon the settlement will try to disrupt the settlement. To tackle that, you’ll have to run propaganda centers and guard posts, among others.
Realism and Planning
To enhance realism, the resources like wood and coal lying around in the open get depleted after a while, after which you are supposed to build coal mines and the like. Scouts are also an essential part of surviving Frostpunk, as they may find a lot of precious resources out there without much effort.
Despite a planned and meticulous approach, there’s always a probability that everything might fall apart due to one reason or another. For example in my case, my hope bar was full for the most part and discontent was pretty much null. Then suddenly an old man showed up at my door step claiming that the nearby settlement was done for and he was the last one left. Shortly after, he died too. With that my hope bar plummeted down to almost zero, and discontent rose significantly as well. There was one person in the infirmary who was ill, his condition worsened and he bit the dust too. To make matters worse, my coal reserves started dwindling as the efficiency of the workers reduced. God knows why. With that my second attempt at this game ended.
Frostpunk: Flaws and Conslusion
I really have no complaints here. Although, I do think that this game is a bit too tough but I suppose that was intended. Furthermore, the events aren’t randomly generated. They are scripted, so the same ones are triggered every time you play the game. This leaves little to no room for replaying any particular scenario. That is perhaps the only fault with this game.
11-Bit studios have successfully created a dynamic survival city-builder that tests your morals, planning skills and ability to deal with ugly surprises. Frostpunk is a flawless city building simulator that should test even the best of veterans. It’s brutally unforgiving, but this is perhaps the most fun I’ve had with a game from this genre in a while.