Frost Punk continues to ride the wave of success. The game, published two years ago, has been positively received by the public and critics. The title is developed by 11 bit studios, an eclectic software house that started its journey on mobile devices with tower defense games and then moved on to something else. We remember in fact that in their videogame portfolio it is also found This War of Mine, a survival game that puts you in the shoes of civilians forced to hide and survive during a war, a work that has left its mark and from which, ideally, one could say that Frostpunk was born. After the first mini-expansion, The Rifts, a real expansion has come, The Last Autumn. Furthermore, during 2020, a third one is foreseen, simply called Project TVADGYCGJR. Below I speak in depth both of the base game, whose review was missing on the site, and of the latest expansion: read on.
And just like in This War of Mine, the title features a small handful of survivors, escaped this time not to war but to what seems to all intents and purposes one new glaciation of the earth. Escaped from London, they manage to find a crater in their path where it is possible to build a generator with which to try to return to a life even if only remotely normal. Unlike the aforementioned title, this time we find a game between management and survival in our hands. As soon as the game starts the first goal is to turn on the generator collecting coal and give a roof over the head to men, women and children. The tutorial introduces us well to the various mechanics that unfold along our game, and that we can hardly see all the first time since the failure, at the first start, is practically certain. Personally I recommend you to face at least the first game in easy mode. It allows you to finish the main story by seeing all the events and also makes it clear which points to work on but the discrepancy between this difficulty and the immediately following level is enormous, not to mention the even higher ones, suitable only for well-navigated players who want a extreme challenge. Frostpunk, in fact, is a title that does not spare low blows to the player and that constantly tests him already at low difficulties. The elements to be kept constantly in sight increase dramatically with the progress of the days of play as well as our sense of helplessness in the face of the terrible cold, which never shows any sign of diminishing.
As soon as all the inhabitants are sheltered, it is possible to start thinking about everything else, above all food, carbon e medical camps. These are the three most important elements of Frostpunk whose absence can compromise the entire game. Coal is essential to keep the generator running, whose upgrades obviously correspond to a greater quantity of burnt coal. All this to keep people warm and ensure that do not get sick. In the event that this happens clearly they must absent themselves from the workplace, thus decreasing the income of the resource they were working on and thus forcing us to move some people, and occupy a bed in the infirmary, in which they can only work the specialists, extremely rare to find in our expeditions outside the crater. And obviously, everyone must eat. At first it is possible to get live by sending teams outside, at night and then return every morning but soon, through research, it is possible to start building greenhouses, and not only. But don't imagine that the workers are tireless self-employed, Age of Empires style. The game features a day-night alternation, with related work shifts that can also be extended, which increases discontent and also risks leading staff to get sick and die.
Through the appropriate laboratory, adequately equipped with specialists, it is possible to begin the search for various technologies, all based on steam, which greatly expand the possibilities, represented through a skill tree very intuitive. For example, instead of going to pick the few coal deposits outside, you can build a beautiful mine. Or a sawmill, so as to work the wood faster, or a foundry to work the metal. All this leads to earning resources much faster and with less employment than men. Or, in an advanced phase of the game, it is even possible to build the Automaton, huge robots steampunk that replace an entire team and whose design is perfectly in line with what would be expected from a steam-based micro-company like Frostpunk. Obviously, you must also be very attentive to the needs of the people who live in the colony: in certain moments of your matches, in fact, events occur which you have to face in the way you think is most appropriate or convenient. Would you prefer to have children work, perhaps in safe areas, or to establish a boarding school, thus losing your workforce? And when a handful of people, terrified of the arrival of a huge storm, want to escape, how do you act? Do you adopt a way of faith, in order to reunite people through religion or do you act with an iron fist, legislating like a dictator? The moral choices are on the agenda and, put it in your head, the perfect game does not exist. People die, the difficulties increase inexorably and the frost does not spare anyone.
The title, however, has a major flaw: the absence of procedurality. Each game sees the same events happen, the resources are always in the same fixed points and, after a few attempts, it is possible to memorize well what happens and to prepare well in advance. A pity but the software house has solved the problem by introducing new scenarios that act as real additional campaigns with constructions, skills and progress totally different from each other. For example, in the refugee scenario, people constantly arrive at the camp, refugees fleeing London, until the Lords arrive, from which the real problems begin and lead to one of the five planned endings. Or the scenario dedicated to Winterhome, which puts us at the helm of a very stable city with many resources but which has enormous problems with the generator whose end we already know through the information obtained during the main campaign. Yet another scenario, The Ark, gives you the goal of saving seeds from frost (he reminded me this place) using only Automaton. In short, 11 bit studios was simply brilliant in creating a playful context like that of Frostpunk that can be declined and faced in many different ways.
Let's talk now about Frostpunk: The Last Autumn, the latest scenario introduced in the game. In this scenario our colony is replaced by a huge construction site and the generator we knew and loved during the main story is under construction. Also in this case the game mechanics are totally modified since the world is not - yet - covered by frost. We have the option, through the Telegraph, to contact our base and organize shipments of workers, specialists and steam cores. It is the entire part concerning the collection of resources has also been modified, which in this case are shipped by sea. Our task is to create piers and move what is stacked on the quay inside the collection point, thus forcing us to double the workforce needed: 10 men for the correct functioning of the pier, another 10 to move everything that arrives, at least in the first period. Once we become familiar with the new structure, we must commit ourselves to generator construction, but we are not free to move slowly. Through a special menu you can examine the roadmap of the works, the delay of which can lead to the failure of the game. It is therefore up to skillfully to juggle the use of resources and understand how many to use to improve the field and how many to spend to speed up the construction site. The skill required is much higher than that of the other scenarios, even at the lowest level of difficulty. The temperature control is replaced with the level of safety at work, to be kept low through various methods. You can build some structures that make the central tunnel safer e sign laws which allow you to slow down your work, thus promoting the well-being of workers, or even to search for new technologies that increase safety, as if it were a sort of passive skill.
To dress all this there is also a splendid colonna sonora, very simple but able to perfectly restore the tension of the game and that actually increases it, especially during the great storm of the first campaign, in which it touches truly incredible points, as well as the palpable sadness of the inhabitants. Frostpunk is a small but multi-faceted title, capable of keeping the player glued within a series of ever-changing scenarios. Or, in case you get bored, there is the trusty infinite mode that allows you to play to the point of exhaustion. Not entirely superimposable to a classic city builder, the game carves out a personal position within the gaming landscape. The defects present in the first period of the release, such as the only game mode, have been widely resolved and today the title appears in perfect shape, congratulations to 11 bit studios for the work and support provided to the pearl.
The game was run on the following configuration:
- Mobo: Gigabyte Z390 AORUS PRO
- CPU: Intel Core i7-9700K
- Ram: 16GB DDR4 2133mhz Corsair Vengeance
- Heatsink: Noctua nuh-d14
- Power supply: EVGA 650GQ 80 + Gold
- GPU: Gigabyte G1 2080 8gb
- HDD: WD Blue 1TB
- SSD: samsung 256 GB