You’ll be sure of a frosty reception as soon as you step foot in Frostpunk’s bleary landscape. The world has been turned upside down and it is up to you to plan and steer people back towards safety…
Your first task is to collect enough coal to turn the generator on and keep your people safe. Simple, or so your think, and whilst on the surface, it is, you will quickly realise that if you do not think ahead then you will quickly become overwhelmed.
What is Frostpunk?
Frostpunk is a survival game that appears to be very simple on the surface but as soon as you melt those ice caps, you will see the layers appear. From how early to send out your scouts to how much of each element to collect and store (food, coal, steel, and steam cores).
Frostpunk brings Victorian London to 21st-century survivalism. It takes the past and builds a surrogate future around it in order to draw you in and ensures that whilst you are tearing your hair out, you can’t wait to have another go.
Frostpunk is as frustrating as it is challenging. It is as annoying as it is addictive and it is typically on sale in the Steam store at least once or twice a year. It is a product of love and you can see that through each and every civilian that you are charged with caring for.
Why Care About Your Civilians?
I was very tempted at one point to give up on them and never play the game again, yet deep down, I knew that I was in for the long run. As soon as my first run-through resulted in exile and my name was spat into the snow, I knew I was there for life.
I quickly re-loaded in order to change the mistakes of the past, only to be left once again, left outside alone. I was so enthralled by how to beat the main scenario, ‘A New Home’, that I trawled through forums online until I found the perfect strategy to start the game…plan ahead and ensure that you have enough resources for the final…(I’ll leave that part for fear of spoilers).
Genius, I thought. It wasn’t like I wasn’t attempting to save as much as possible in order to feed my population but needless to say, I gave it a go. I divided the resource gathering as indicated…and the result of this was that I ran out of food. The civilians once again turned on me.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a decent amount of coal, wood, and steel to keep them all going, but the problem was that there was nothing to eat.
You Would Not Starve
Attempting to keep my civilians alive whilst they scorned my choice to turn to soup rather than a hearty meal was irritating, especially considering that they would not starve after only a few days. I would like to point out that this is scientifically incorrect, but given that it is in an ice age and as the game does not indicate water consumption, I can only assume that the two are linked and Frostpunk did not simply have it in for me.
The point in raising this was that whilst I was asset rich, I had forgotten to consider the basic needs of all humans: food (and water). I had gotten so obsessed with going down the route written down online that I had forgotten to listen to my instincts. That is where the beauty of Frustpunk truly lies.
It is a homage to the survival games of the past that ties into those late-night pub conversations. Surrounded by friends and family, you postulate as to how you would react and what you would do to ensure the survival of others and the truth is that it’s a lot harder than it looks.
Is It Worth It?
Absolutely. Frostpunk was released in 2018 and with the announcement of a sequel on the horizon, I am very excited, to say the least. The first game as this write-up hopefully indicates is an addictive survival strategy that reaches through the screen and shakes you, convincing you that the solution is only minutes away. It is not but that does not matter.
There is no ‘perfect solution’ to Frostpunk and whilst I have ‘completed’ the main story scenario, I would say that if I were to lead a group of people in an ice age, then I wouldn’t want this on my CV. I forgot to upgrade a few houses and had barely enough food in storage in order to support everyone. I was saved by the clock being run down and in a real-life scenario, I would most definitely be looking for alternative employment.
Frostpunk is a frustratingly addictive challenge that can easily help you while away for a few hours whilst you contemplate your actions. It asks for very little other than the commitment to getting to the end one way or another, and for me, that involved total obedience. While I would consider myself a pacifist, it seemed the best option.
Religion does also come into play and therefore, whilst the scenario is naturally fictional, there are some very real human elements to it. The fact that families are fractured and you can choose to reunite them or leave them to their fates really pulls on the heartstrings and make you smile. The team at 11 Bit Studios really has made a game worthy of the ages.
If like me you were curious and purchased Frostpunk whilst it was on sale, then why not give the expansion levels a go? They are regularly on sale also and add the equivalent in hours of challenge, if not more, so why not give them a go?
Taking place before and after the main story, you have to ask yourself if they are a foreshadowing of what is to come (in the sequel) or an affectionate addition? That is not for me to decide. I am responsible for playing through the scenarios and I can safely say that they are as frustratingly addictive as ‘A New Home’, the main scenario of Frostpunk, and have been responsible for many, pre-bed thoughts.
The expansions can come packaged with a Frostpunk purchase but I would recommend holding off, as the main game is frustrating. If you cannot get to grips with the mechanics and how you need to progress through failure then I would not recommend investing.
A Final Thought
Frostpunk is a frustratingly addictive adventure that grabbed me by the shirt and shook me until I paid attention. Not something that I would typically invest in but I am very glad that I did. It is a great game and one that is incredibly easy to recommend. The sequel is waiting in the wings, though likely not until 2024, giving you plenty of time to master the original while you wait. Frostpunk is available on Steam.
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