One of the hottest, or should I say coldest, indie games released last year was the survival, city management game Frostpunk from developer 11 Bit Studios. I was dying to play this one but since I don’t play games on PC I was left out in the cold while all the cool PC people got to experience it. Now a year and a half later Frostpunk: Console Edition has arrived on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and my chance to see what all of the fuss was about is here. Did this one meet my expectations?
The story of Frostpunk is set in an alternate history where a catastrophic event has led to the world falling into icy temperatures. People have to band together to survive and one group has left London to head north in search of survival. You are the leader of this group and you discover a huge crater with a Generator in the middle of it. Generators are sources of immense heat but they need lots of coal to run. Having discovered this generator you decide to settle here and build your city around it. You’ll have to keep it running in order to keep your people warm and alive and your city running.
Just like traditional city-building games you’ll be constructing buildings to build your city and gathering resources to keep things running and people alive. The game is presented to you from a top-down view allowing you to easily select different buildings and workers to interact with. There is a lot in this game to keep track of and it can be a little intimidating but stick with it and you’ll see how special this game can be. One of those things that is a must to keep an eye on is the temperature which is always changing. If the temperature inside your structures drops below certain levels then they won’t be able to operate and people will start getting sick. You can keep them heated by building as close to the generator as possible and certain skill trees will also grant you ways to keep things warm and toasty. You also have to make sure you are keeping things going with coal and that you have workers doing their jobs.
Laws are another mechanic that come into play. At times you can enact new laws that people need to follow, some they will be happy with and some they might not. You may need people to start working more hours in order to prevent something bad from happening. A lot of people might not be happy about that but if it’s for the greater good it has to be done. Two other things to keep track of include a hope meter and a discontent meter. These change depending on what the people think of you as a leader. Make enough bad decisions and your community will lose all hope in your ability to take care of them and may rebel against you or exile you outright. They are yet another thing to keep track of in this game and another thing that adds to the tension. I was always debating about what to do when some difficult choices came up in the game for me to make. Sometimes I had to make hard ones in order to keep things going even though it hurt some people’s views of me.
Another way you can help your city is by sending out groups to scout new areas. By doing this you can find new people to recruit to your city and new sources of resources which is always a good thing. Now one worry a lot of people including myself have when it comes to these PC city management games coming over to consoles is how are the controls going to translate? Well in this case the game has been ported over very well and clearly had a lot of care put into it. The UI is very easy to read and radial menus are designed well. There are also a lot of different things in the options that you can customize to make some of the controls work and operate a little bit faster should you feel the need to.
The console edition of Frostpunk not only has the original game but also all of the DLC that has been released so far as well. That includes an endless mode and three other scenarios so you’re getting quite a bit of content in this package. When it comes to the graphics the game does take a bit of a hit when compared to the PC version. I was pleased to see that Frostpunk has a photo mode as I’m a big fan of that feature in games but when using it I really noticed some of the low quality areas in the graphics the console version has. The game isn’t ugly but it’s a step down from the PC version. The soundtrack in Frostpunk is also very good and is probably one of my favorites of the year. The game does have a Platinum trophy on PlayStation but it will be quite a challenge to get. Expect to put a lot of work into getting this one.
Frostpunk: Console Edition has made its transition to consoles in fantastic shape. A ton of care was put into making sure the controls and interface worked well on consoles and it shows throughout. I was blown away by just how engrossing it was to try to balance keeping my city and people warm and alive even though at times I had to make some hard decisions to do so. If you’re like me and missed this on PC don’t remain out in the cold, come in and see why it’s so good.
*Frostpunk is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Strategy, survival game that translates very well to console controls
- Engaging game that gives you a lot to manage in order to keep your people alive
- Lots of content to play through
- Lots of difficult choices you'll be challenged with making
- Graphics are a step down from the PC version
- Doesn't explain things the best and thus can be intimidating at the start