January PSNow – Frostpunk (Review)

January’s PSNow titles were Bioshock, Bioshock 2, Bioshock Infinite, Frostpunk, Surviving Mars and The Crew 2.

As I’ve played the three Bioshock games a number times – there’s never too many – I decided to give something I’d never played a go; I chose Frostpunk.

Frostpunk is city-building survival game that was released in April 2018 for PC and later in October 2019 for consoles.

My first impressions of Frostpunk was that it looked like a slightly different take on the old Command & Conquer games; which I was all for. But playing it I realise it’s only like them on the surface; below it is a true game of survival.

Let me just say now that I usually hate tutorials in games. There’s only so many times you can be told how to crouch or push an object before it’s etch into your brain. But with Frostpunk we could have done with at least a tutorial for the first bit. That’s not to say it doesn’t have anything, it does have tutorial cards that pop up every so often, but for the most part it leaves you alone and for us it wasn’t quite enough and it took us a while to adjust to everything that we were required to do.

Once we got over that hurdle and after several grumbling restarts we started to get into the game for what it is and I have to say that we enjoyed it.

This game isn’t one that you play for fun. It’s hard and at times depressing, but once you get the hang of it it’s quite rewarding.

The basic idea of Frostpunk is that an ice-age has hit the earth in an alternate steampunk Victorian age universe and you are in charge of a settlement full of people that have escaped London in an attempt to survive. One thing that is confusing is that these people from London decide that in order to survive an ice-age they should go further north and establish a new settlement there. There isn’t really any explanation to this and it did leave me a little lost as to what we were meant to be doing.

The game is split into several different scenarios, which all come with their own tasks and difficulties that you need to overcome in order to win. There is also an endless mode where you build your settlement on one of the maps and see how long you can last multiple storms and other perils. But, at certain stage of the endless mode, you can’t really do anything new and all you’re doing is gathering resources to survive another day, by this point it got a little monotonous. The scenarios though are different, as they offer a bigger challenge with their set tasks. It’s all about planning and working out what to do an when and if you have enough resources to survive. These had more playability than the endless.

Gathering the resources – coal, iron, wood, steam cores (which for some reason look like they are a part of a Dyson hoover) – can be tough at times; your settlers can get injured during their work or even die. How you choose to deal with these events (and more) either improves the settlements’ hope of survival or increases their discontent. All this while trying keep everyone warm through a storm that goes down to -120°C.

To help you, you can research new and improved building such as Steam Coal Mines or a Factory – where you can build spidery automatons that can be used instead of human workers. You’re also able to set laws around what happens to people if they steal, whether you want children to work for you, and even if you want to build your settlement around religion or stern authoritarianism.

There is a lot going on in this game and at times it can be overwhelming if you’re focusing on one thing and not reacting to other events. But it’s a challenge that we rose to and managed to complete a few of the scenarios along with a fairly lengthy stint in endless mode.

I would recommend this game to anyone that enjoys sim and management games, like Sim City, Constructor or Tropico. I struggle with this type of games these days – I find I just don’t have the patience for them, but this kept my attention for long enough this month that I’m going to give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

I don’t know what the new games on PS Now in February will be, but hopefully there will be one like Frostpunk that we can get our teeth into.

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