Most of gaming's post-apocalyptic universes (such as Fallout or Metro) are the way they are because of human actions, with nuclear war being the plot direction most writers take. Frostpunk, though, opts to go down a separate path: a climate disaster that ends up wiping almost all of humanity out. Between this unique approach to the post-apocalyptic genre, the excellent gameplay mechanics, and the fantastic narrative itself, Frostpunk is an experience that you shouldn't miss out on.
Story: The city must survive
Near the end of the 19th century, the entire world became engulfed in a devastating, never-ending cold that ravaged all forms of life — including us. Almost the entirety of humanity was snuffed out by the deathly freeze, but a small group of survivors managed to hold out and travel north, where they constructed the lat city on Earth, dubbed "New London". This is where the human race makes their final stand, and you, as their leader, are in charge of making sure that as many people survive the eternal winter as possible.
The basic plot itself isn't that deep, but things start to really get engaging when you have to make hard decisions about how your society will choose to live. For example, food rationing, corpse disposal, and employment of children into labor are all things you have to make choices about, and the question of "where do we draw the line?" will always be in the back of your head. How much humanity will we sacrifice in order to save it? The answer to that is entirely up to you.
Gameplay: Post-apocalyptic SimCity
Overall, Frostpunk feels like a more difficult SimCity or Cities: Skylines — you build up a society and keep the people in it happy — but your room for error is significantly smaller. The murderous weather that constantly assaults New London demands that fueling your fires be a priority. Where in other games a problem with fuel just means you'll be replacing a power plant or station, in Frostpunk, people can die, and if you don't do your job well, they will. A lot.
In general, you'll find that most of your resources are tight. You can build structures that provide services and goods to the people of New London, but to do so means you'll need to invest a sum of resources, and collecting those means sending people out into the wilderness. In order for your society to truly grow, you'll need to balance out the construction of facilities with the health of your citizens. Focusing on either one too much can lead to disaster.
Mechanically, Frostpunk is excellent, although one minor issue present with the game is that it can be hard to distinguish the different types of buildings at a glance because of their similar aesthetics. This makes you slow down, wasting precious time on trying to figure out which structure is which instead of being more productive.
Frostpunk for PC conclusion
Despite the gameplay-slowing visual similarities between structures, Frostpunk overall is a wonderfully emotional and engaging city-builder strategy game that will challenge you with tough tasks and even tougher choices.
- Fantastic gameplay.
- Solid, unique narrative.
- Beautiful graphics and music.
- Structures look too similar; this impedes gameplay.
Frostpunk is available on Steam now for $29.99.
This review was conducted on a PC, using a copy provided by the publisher.