Welcome to the world of Frostpunk, where the hardships are plenty and the pleasures very few. You are tasked with keeping the last city on Earth alive at all costs, all whilst trying to stave off the cold from an arctic wasteland. Developed and published by 11bit Studios, whom are both developers and publishers of games and have many titles under their belt, like This War of Mine, Moonlighter, Children of Morta and many more.
Winter Has Come
It has indeed come, it’s here to stay and you’d best get used to it. No more lazy Sundays, no more sunny days. None of it. The great winter has gripped the world in its icy grasp, and your city is the final bastion of civilisation. Naturally, in times of crisis, people turn to each other and look for a leader in whom to place their trust, hopes, dreams and fears. That person is you. You start off with a few cutscenes explaining the situation you find yourself in. The world has come to a halt, and the cold has taken over everything. Banding together, you set off with your fellow Londoners to the north, where you hope to find safety and shelter. Best to knuckle down and have a good, stiff upper lip for the hardships ahead.
Day-to-Day Life in Frostpunk
The core mechanics of the game are the same as in any other in the survival simulator genre but with a heavy emphasis on morality in a seemingly bleak and dark vision of the future. It’s a civilisation simulator that pushes you to make hard choices in order for your society to live and survive. And hard choices they are, too. Resources are finite, and people have their own worries and concerns to deal with, all whilst maintaining order and pushing your citizens to keep the generators running for another night. You are all huddled around a single generator, your sun, if you will, and you need to keep it fed. It’s very hungry, and everything is solely reliant on your ability to keep this on, from the running of the heaters in the workplaces to heating homes and medical posts. If this goes out, well, it’s basically game over.
Many elements are at play here, and you can keep tabs on everything that’s going on via the menu, a timeline that chronicles your passing of the days along with a temperature readout to see how cold the world is becoming. This day-to-day clock is your enemy as you have to plan for the coming days’ temperature spikes. Addressing your citizens’ discontent and hopes are daily matters that also need to be taken into account amongst the backdrop of managing your economy. As previously stated, resources are finite, and how you use them will dictate the path you will follow. Progress far enough and you can construct advanced buildings and start researching better technologies to help your civilisation thrive. You can then build scouts to explore the world, and they can find other settlements, new places of interest to explore and find resources that are vital to your city’s survival. They can also find out what has happened to the world and, more importantly, why things have become so bleak.
Everything in this game has a price: Your citizens need beds and roofs over their heads. You build them with the wood you have available. Then, an event will happen, causing you to reconsider your earlier short-term fix and realising that you should have saved the resource for this endeavour instead, and herein lies the genius of this game.
Rob Peter to Pay Paul
Your decisions will always have a consequence, whether on the social aspect of your civilisation or on the finite resources at your disposal. It is up to you to make the call. Pass laws that help to ease the burdens of your people by giving them better healthcare, caring for the sick and providing distractions in the way of entertainment. But, there are also laws that will not be viewed favourably by the masses but will definitely help you with managing what resources you have, like mixing sawdust into food to make what little you have spread further. Sure, it will feed people, but they won’t be happy, and some may get sick as a result; which spirals back round to the need for more medical facilities, which in turn uses resources. You see where I’m going with this. It all ties together, and your decisions are what make and break your leadership. Not to spoil anything for you, but there are key moments in the story that push your ability to rule and maintain order.
The Troubles of Leadership
Many of your citizens are quick to jump on the bandwagon of the populace’s discontent. Every decision you make seems to work at first, but things will rapidly spiral if you break a promise. They will ask you frequently to address issues like more housing, more medical facilities for the sick, all at the expense of keeping the lights on because you need to invest manpower to fulfil these promises. Should you break any of these promises, the results are bad. You’ll take a huge hit in your discontent meter, and the troubles will rise from there. Thefts will begin to occur the higher it rises, with more dire consequences revealing themselves the further you go. Eventually, you begin to realise that all your citizens will never be happy no matter how hard you try. For me, I wish I could replace the lot of them with automatons. Never tiring, never wanting anything, just diligently working away, but alas, it’s not to be.
There are some aspects of the game that people may find not to their liking, however. You can invest a lot of time in this game, only for it to slash your hopes when an unpleasant event occurs, but that is part and parcel of this story. For me, I quickly learned from my first attempt, which ended horribly, and I picked it back up and had another go. Learning from my mistakes, I went further, and I’m still playing to see how far I can go. You have to take the rough with the smooth, and how you overcome these challenges is what will define you as a leader in this world.
Developer: 11bit Studios
Publisher: 11bit Studios
Release Date: 24th April 2018
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