If you haven’t heard already, Frostpunk is a new PC game from 11 bit studios and it’s very good. It’s all over gaming media lately but I just got around to playing it this past weekend. Already it’s kept me up past 2 AM on two occasions so far and if you like city builders like Banished, you need to try it out. It’s so damn good.
So Frostpunk is very similar to Banished, but with a whole lot more difficulty. Essentially you build a city and research more technology to make the city better. You keep your citizens fed, housed, and happy, but in Frostpunk the hook is that you’re in a freezing apocalyptic Britain in the late 1800s where heat is a huge concern. You need to keep all your buildings warm enough so your citizens don’t get sick, which means collecting coal to power heaters and other steam-related devices.
It may sound basic, but the atmosphere and difficulty in this game is what really drew me in. Oh crap, some guys working at my coal mine got sick so I’m making less of that. The temperature is about to drop another 10C and I’m the housing insulation upgrade isn’t quite finished. Shit, someone died and I haven’t signed laws to deal with that yet. Oh yeah, there’s a whole system of laws in Frostpunk too. You can sign laws to do all sorts of things, but they may have negative affects as well. For example, you can research soup as a food source which is more efficient than regular rations, but the people hate eating soup all the time.
On top of the initial book of laws you’re given, later in the game you’re given the option to branch out into a faith or order based tree. These laws provide different methods to increase your population’s hope, either through church-like praying or dictator like propaganda. Again, you need to keep hope up so your population doesn’t leave or revolt. They might even refuse to work, leaving you in a place that’s very hard to recover from.
Throughout all of this, you also have the ability to send out scouting parties into the frozen wastes. You can find resources like wood and coal, rare items like steam cores that let you create more advanced stuff, and even survivors that you can bring to your city. More people means more demands but also more workers, so there’s a delicate balance of how many people to accept. Do you accept this group of people even though they’re all sick and you’ll have to deal with that, or do you just leave them for dead?
The graphics and music in Frostpunk are also great. They really convey the sense of a cold depressing world. The art for your citizens is bleak and refugee looking and the music swells when tough situations arise. This really is a great game all around, but if i had one negative it’s that there are only three scenarios and no open-ended sandbox mode. There’s good news though, as the developers have already pledged to create more content in the future thanks to great initial sales numbers.
If you don’t mind some spoilers, you can watch the final days of the first scenario where a big storm looms over your city in my little video above. You’re tasked with merely surviving until the end, as temperatures drop below what you’ve encountered before. It gets pretty hectic and tense.
For $30, this game is a no brainer if you’re into this genre. Just go play it and absorb that sweet dire atmosphere.