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Frostpunk Review– “Desperate Times Call for Desperate Action”

Almost four years ago, an unusual but high-quality game called This War of Mine was released. The cheerful and kind project almost immediately won the hearts of many connoisseurs of good video games. In this game, it was necessary to take responsibility for the survival of a small group of people in a city that was subsequently engulfed in civil war. And there were usually no simple and obvious solutions in the game, because the players had to regularly step on the throat of their eternally howling conscience.

On April 24 of this year, the Polish studio 11 bit, responsible for the development of This War of Mine, introduced a completely new game – Frostpunk. And it turned out that the joy and fun in this game is no less.

The developers have returned to their fans and new players with another story, which is again filled with pain, human suffering, but at the same time all these unpleasant moments are not devoid of hope. Frostpunk is quite different from the previous project, but, nevertheless, the usual philosophy of the authors remains – are you ready to make complex and important decisions that have good intentions, but, in a couple, disastrous consequences?

“Frostpunk Release Trailer”.


Hell’s Cold


Frostpunk. On the Russian

Any significant work of art can cause its observer a certain impulse or response, which, one way or another, makes you think about something. At the same time, games have one important advantage over other various forms of self-expression – they are able not only to ask important questions, but also to conduct a full-fledged dialogue. However, not every developer is able to implement this opportunity with talent, but this is definitely not about the authors of 11 bit studios.

In trouble can be not only a friend, but in general absolutely any other person. Tragedy is one of the main catalysts for the development, disclosure of characters and just a “gold mine” for the rich basis of some exciting game. So, for example, in This War of Mine, a small group of people finds themselves in the most difficult and desperate situation, so the life of each person from this handful of people depends on a number of important decisions that the player makes. Frostpunk went even further, increasing the scale and importance of these very solutions.

“In such craters there are colonies, in the center of which there are huge steam heaters.”

According to the plot, an alternative version of the XIX century comes to an end, to put it mildly, unexpectedly. In the summer of 1886, a terrible snow storm begins, which covers the whole world and at the same time still does not plan to subside. Many people moved to the southern part of the Earth in order to find salvation from the cataclysm, but in the end they found only death and complete chaos. But Britain decided to take a completely different path: in the northern lands, which are rich in resources, the government decides to organize several settlements inside huge craters. And the life of these settlements is supported by a gigantic heat generator capable of heating the whole city around itself.

It would seem that humanity managed to survive, but the troubles did not end there: a little later, an ice storm came from the south, mowing down most of the people. Of course, someone managed to escape. And now one such modest group of refugees by luck manages to find one of the abandoned generators, which at one time was built by the British government. Thinking that this is another chance to survive, people decide to stay in this place and build a new home for humanity. From now on, the player is the manager of the newly formed colony, who is now responsible for all the people who live in this place.

“First of all, before you start rebuilding New London, you need to turn on the Generator. Otherwise, all the residents who managed to escape will get sick.”

In addition, Frostpunk captivates with its unusual curious entourage. After all, not every day it is possible to plunge into the atmosphere of a cold apocalypse, which goes interspersed with steampunk. And based on the words of one of the developers of the project (Pawel Michowski), the main source of inspiration was the book “Ice” (Polish science fiction writer Jacek Dukaj) and a graphic novel filmed in the film called “Through the Snow”. Moreover, the motif and setting of the second source of inspiration is visible immediately, despite the fact that the developers drew a not so hopeless story and the picture as a whole.


The main goal is to survive


Frostpunk. Release date

“The roads, which are marked with red icons, are not built immediately by workers. It took four days to get to the warehouses.”

And that’s a very difficult task. Because you have to put in a huge amount of effort. Frostpunk is an unusual mixture of a city-building simulator and a survival game. Only if in the first version all unpleasant misfortunes were limited, for example, by a broken power plant, traffic jams and a tornado walking somewhere in the distance, then “New London” is regularly subjected to snow cataclysms.

In addition, at the start, residential buildings for the first residents have yet to be built. Start-up reserves of resources (coal, timber, steel and food) will soon run out. So then you have to replenish them yourself. The first few days the temperature is kept at a completely normal level – somewhere around -20. For survivors with experience, of course, this is nonsense, you can even walk without a hat. So you can even postpone the inclusion of a huge generator to save more fuel for a stronger cold.

“Everyone copes with stress the way they do best.”

Frostpunk, roughly speaking, is broken down into three main gameplay mechanics: the first is the settlement economy; the second mechanic is, so to speak, social management; but the third mechanic is the study of the icy desert.

The economy of the settlement, on which the workforce depends, is one of the most important parts of the gameplay. Because in certain buildings only true workers can work, but only engineers can do work in factories and medical units. For that, there is always a shortage of labor in the mines and therefore absolutely every person is welcome there, regardless of his profession. So quite often during the passage it is necessary to transfer people from one enterprise to another several times a day in order to develop the city as soon as possible and quickly serve its needs.

In addition, if some of the local residents are not heated as expected, then a certain part of the frozen people will begin to get sick. The further outcome, I think, is clear – death. Next to the huge generator, of course, it is warm, but there is not enough free space for subsequent buildings. There is a problem with mines in general, because they are located on the most remote outskirts, so heating such places is a separate task and the main one is more for the nearest passage.

“Automatons created for work are not afraid of cold, hunger and even night. But the efficiency of these machines is much lower than that of humans.”

The game contains a huge number of different subtleties. The urban planning part is incredibly deep and extensive. Subtleties are associated with both the extraction of resources and their constant shortage. And most importantly, it all depends on the workforce and the cold. Fans of this genre will definitely like the game.

Relaxing in the game is hard. First, the terrible shortage of everything that only exists makes it necessary to constantly do something, constantly save on something and look for completely new ways for the survival of the community. Secondly, the temperature will soon begin to fall and therefore the cold will be the most ferocious. Moreover, with the consequences of a drop in temperature, it will not be possible to pull, so you have to deal with the problem right on the go. In addition, I am glad that there are quite a lot of options for the development of research in science and there is nothing superfluous. If desired, you can even build a fully automated colony, where human labor will be replaced by mechanized labor. So steampunk is making itself felt again.

“In some scenarios, not all technologies are available.”

Thanks to this pace of growing problems that require the fastest possible solution, you quickly understand the mechanics of Frostpunk. Each new scenario has its own unique way to ruin the passage of Frostpunk. Scenarios are responsible for replayability, each of which differs in its own way. And in each scenario, you can twist the level of complexity. The most interesting thing is that “Survival” will not put restrictions. There is always one main task and it lies in the fact that it is necessary to survive the next ice storm.

Although there are regimes that initially put restrictions. So, for example, in the mode called “Ark”, the initially available area for construction will be noticeably limited, and there is practically no one to hunt in the district. Therefore, you will be forced to explore farms as soon as possible in order to subsequently build greenhouses, otherwise very soon all known plants for mankind will be finally wiped off the face of the Earth.

But in the “Refugees” mode, every couple of days a whole convoy of people will arrive in the city, the bulk of which consists of children. And this is a real burden, because they have to be fed and warmed. Some losses, because they can not immediately start working.


Snow storm close


Game Frostpunk

“When storm frosts begin, some places intended for forays become inaccessible. In addition, in such moments it is better to disband the scouts. They will be more purposeful.”

But Frostpunk’s gloomy atmosphere won’t just be built on constantly falling temperatures. As in the previous project of the studio 11 bit, the decisions made and regular conflicts of interest will be of great importance in the game. So in addition to problems with cold, food and heating, many problems will be caused by the residents themselves. They will demand from you new residential buildings, entertainment. They will get sick and die. And the player will have to find in this whole “people’s hodgepodge” a golden mean. We will have to give orders, write out sentences and all this will not be easy. The struggle for survival can easily develop into tyranny, and then to discontent and even rebellion. And the problems are not so easy to solve. For example, you will not be able to force workers to extract the same coal around the clock – you will constantly have to look for some compromises.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures” – it is this Latin proverb that perfectly reflects what will still be encountered in Frostpunk. You will have to make really difficult, and sometimes even ruthless decisions. Moreover, each decision will be fixed separately by a signed law.

“By the way, the Arena cheers up the colony. The only disadvantage of this building is that it is necessary to spend resources on the construction. “

For example, you can allow child labor in some relatively safe enterprises. But you begin to react calmly to this when you remember that any extra mouth increases the chances of extinction of the entire settlement. Although this is not all, because every adopted law has consequences. As a rule, they are all random. The child may injure himself and ask for a day off, or the mother does not want to let her young son do hellish work. Of course, you can not sit down with anyone and send children to work directly in the mines.

There are other options for how to protect children, but all this depends on the fact that they will have to be fed, while there is a possibility that the workers in the mines and on the farms are simply not enough to feed and warm so many residents who are not able to benefit the community. In the end, the choice made or the decision made will not be changed, so you will be forced to unravel what you brewed and hope that after that it will be possible to change something in a positive way.

The ‘heart’ of any colony in all its glory.”

However, that’s not all. There are other difficult moral situations. For example, you can double the nutrition of patients, hoping that they will be able to recover as soon as possible or, perhaps, it is better not to risk your valuable reserves? The same child can be given a day off due to injury or not to maintain the amount of work required. Wasting time on a not worthy, but normal burial of the dead or just throwing everyone in a heap? After all, to help another settlement with resources or not to risk it? It should be admitted that the writers of Frostpunk 2018 tried well, because the way out of the situation can hardly be called obvious. There is no right decision in the game, because each of them is correct in its own way.

There is also a semblance of “karma” in Frostpunk. It is presented in the form of discontent and hope. The state of lack of hope among the surviving people in extreme conditions may soon result in the fact that they will try to get rid of the current leader. With the maximum value of the lack of hope, the result will be the same. Both parameters are influenced by the adopted laws, according to which, in fact, the colony lives. And in the case of Frostpunk, it’s not just some abstract numbers.

“This is what the window looks like, which shows which buildings need additional heat.”

Each law has its pros and cons. An isolated community will react to each law in any case, and, as I noted above, it will not be possible to reverse the decision. So making another difficult choice, if you are not worried, then, at least, you begin to think about what these people are capable of if everything goes downhill.

You can make laws based on some moral values, or on a rigid utilitarian discipline. If desired, you can build even a powerful dictatorship and rule this whole town with your iron hand. In this case, by the way, faith in the leader will be so strong that the parameter of “hope” is unlikely to ever fall. But in the case of some moralist, the process of government will be difficult …


Atmosphere


Frostpunk. Review

“Eating other people is due to harsh conditions.”

Another detail that the developers worked out as well as possible. The lion’s share of charm to this game rests on the strong shoulders of the spirit of harsh struggle and hopelessness. And the artists from the studio 11 bit tried. If you wish, you can even sit and watch how tiny people warm their hands by the fire, or with torches make their way through huge snowdrifts, trampling narrow paths. And from the heat of the local giant “heater” the snow melts, thereby exposing the ground. In the end, even the arrival of an eerie cold you feel, because the screen is literally covered with ice. The world of Frostpunk is a poor picture consisting of a gray palette. The minimalism of This War of Mine has taken a back seat. Still, the new game is fun to watch.


Unknown Ending


Frostpunk. Buy

“The balance in Frostpunk is a fine detail. It is necessary to overdo it with order, as you will immediately become almost a new Hitler. And together with a pleasant baklava, it will turn out that the whole community is frozen.”

Finally, it remains to touch upon the final of the passage. The bottom line is that he leaves behind many questions that simply do not have answers. It is known that the presented settlement is the last on Earth. Frostpunk ends with the fact that you manage to survive the frost storm. In fact, the city after that may begin to starve and get sick, but the ending says that the player won, but what happens next is no longer known.

It is not known where this deadly ice storm that covered the whole world came from. At the end, it is not clear how to restore humanity, if in fact there is no one else left. It is also unknown where the chosen strategy of passage / control will lead and into what it will result in.

“Not everything revolves around the central heat generator. In addition to it, you also need to build a lighthouse and establish research on the surrounding areas, from where your scouts will be able to bring the found resources. “

This is me to the fact that in This War of Mine, at least at the end, the developers still told about the future of the heroes. The ending could not only be joyful, but also depressive. Frostpunk doesn’t have anything like that, though. On the other hand, this game is still a city-building simulator. In other words: Frostpunk is a game for the sake of gameplay, not for the sake of the ending. You can still remember that the developers initially said that the storyline of the new game is given much less attention than the same economy, but still it was possible to shed light on some events. It’s clear that it’s hard to get to the level of drama in This War of Mine, because there are hundreds of people under the command, and not a few characters.


The Bottom Line


A really high-quality project, which is a city-building simulator for survival in extreme conditions. In addition, Frostpunk is a unique opportunity to understand who you really are. After all, competent prioritization and decision-making have reached a new level. The new project is fair in its rules. He depresses much more not even by the complexity of the passage, but by moral pressure.



Reviewer’s verdict

The game is beautiful, fresh and interesting. The usual mechanics of city-building simulators are diluted with the pangs of moral choice and a rich atmosphere. However, do not expect long sleepless nights – the game requires a portion of additional content.

Frostpunk has a unique setting. Steampunk is perfect for the situation and story that has developed in the plot of the game. Graphically, the game is pleasing to the eye. At the same time, everything is supported by smooth, pleasant animation.

There can be no complaints about the soundtrack. Music in the game is appropriate. It can properly escalate the situation. Any fan of This War of Mine will be happy with the soundtrack.

The plot component is very crumpled. And the ending leaves only one question. The heroes will not be able to worry, because there are hundreds of them and they can die like flies. However, the authors made it clear before the release of the game that one should not expect a heartbreaking source.

Control, as for a city-building simulator, is convenient. But another thing is optimization. She really has problems at the moment. The game may throw errors or may not start.

The lack of additional content affects the gameplay after a few playthroughs. However, the mixture of the two genres gives an unforgettable experience along with a difficult moral choice.

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