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    dkirschner's Frostpunk (PC)

    [May 29, 2020 05:30:39 PM]
    Finished this (okay, almost almost finished this) in a mega-session last night. I usually don't care much for city builders or 4x games, but this one is special. It straddles the line between those and various "difficult choices weighing resources and humanity" type games like the studio's previous effort, This War of Mine. It also reminded me of Banner Saga (probably the snow helped), Prison Architect (damn Londoners!), FTL (fires everywhere), Sunless Seas/Skies (the writing and tone of the game), and other such games where everything goes horribly wrong.

    The premise is that some global climate catastrophe is sweeping the world, freezing it and burying civilization in ice and snow. Survivors fight among each other, flee large cities, and head for the wilderness to try and eke out a living in the warm shadows of huge generators. You are the leader of one such band of survivors and must guide them in building a settlement. Gather and manage natural resources, manage your populations' hope (good) and discontent (bad), quell rebellions, keep people fed and healthy, and most importantly, keep people warm. The weather is your biggest enemy.

    You can see a 5-day forecast and know when the temperature will rise or fall. The temperature has 6 different levels, from comfortable to freezing. The colder it is, the more likely your people are to get sick and require medical attention. If it's really, really cold, they will either die or get frostbite and need amputations, which makes them unable to work. The weather in a video game has never induced such dread.

    As I said, the game is at its core about surviving through cold snaps. You want your population inside warm buildings. Some buildings can't even operate if it gets too cold. So, you will need to research insulation and heating technologies. The central generator can provide a lot of this warmth. It warms more space hotter with upgrades, but guzzles coal. The colder it is, the more dangerous it is to send people to work. So how will you get all the coal you need? Tough question.

    I bungled my first playthrough. We arrived at the generator, and I spent time learning the basics. Meanwhile, the clock ticked away and night fell. I had done almost nothing. No one had any houses and 24 of my 80 people died in the night. Woops. This made completing one of the early game objectives nearly impossible and I never did it, which means subsequent objectives never triggered. I had no guidance! I was eventually exiled for poor leadership.

    In my second playthrough, I dutifully built housing and lost not a soul for days. The mistake I made though was to center my entire settlement around the main generator for heat. I never even researched power substations, which are smaller sources of heat you can build elsewhere. By the time the temperature dropped to 100 below 0, I realized I had made a grave error. I had the generator running as high as I'd upgraded it and I was just burning through my coal reserves. I actually managed to hold out until sooo close to the end of the game! I mean, I had about 15 real-time seconds before I would have won, but alas, I was ejected again from town. Better city planning is required.

    Frostpunk has so many cool elements to it and is absolutely worth a look. I've never played anything quite like it. It hooked me in a marathon session and I stayed up way too late. As soon as it was over, I wanted to start again to survive the storm at the end. I immediately know like 20 things I would do differently. The game also comes with several additional scenarios, and, in the main scenario at least, there are two "paths" for the kinds of laws you can enact (another neat feature). I chose Discipline and Order this time, but there is also Faith and Spiritual Strength. So, I may give this another shot with the other path and best the storm, but I'm going to keep trying to burn through these Microsoft Game Pass games first. This is the longest a dollar has ever gone to fund my gaming. Once I get done with all the ones I want, if I still have time, I'll return to this, or maybe buy it on sale on Steam.
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    dkirschner's Frostpunk (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Thursday 28 May, 2020

    GameLog closed on: Monday 22 June, 2020

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Tense city builder and survival hybrid where everything goes wrong. ---------- Might buy this on Steam and play again sometime. More campaigns!

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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