Thanks to the kind folks at 11bit Studios, today I’m looking over the froted wastelands in this new to console RTS Citybuilder. You can find the regular review video just below, or keep reading for the extended review
Frostpunk released a little while ago over on PC and has a dedicated following already, but the recently released Console edition has brought this award winning pc hit to PS4 and xbox one. You’ll play as the captain of an expedition to set up a new home in the frozen wastes, discovering new technologies and managing your society in what can be an unforgiving environment. One of the biggest challenges with RTS titles moving to console is the control scheme, and Frostpunk has to have one of the best controller conversions I’ve seen of late. With an aim to make things quick and easy for a limited 16 button conttoller, 11 bit studios have really knocked this one out of the park.
Frostpunk is definitely a game suitable for those who like management, and you’ll be in charge of pretty much everything about the city, from building, worker management and what there is of the economy, down to signing new laws and making what are frankly some pretty awful decisions. Every change you make will affect the mood in your city, and keeping hope high and desperation low is a tough, and sometimes impossible task, but you’ll need to find a way to manage it.
That said, there ARE some settings you can change across all of the story modes in order to make the experience tougher or more lenient, and even the endless mode offers the choice between harsh survival and a more relaxing city management mode. This has been a very welcome aspect in the Pixel Bandits studios, as I’ve taken some time off from the gruelling main campaign, to work in a lighter and slightly warmer environment just to stop myself from going snow crazy
Frostpunk Console Edition is rated by PEGI at 16 and above, and by the ESRB at a Mature 17+. There is some bad language in the title, and some of the decisions you make along the way are not really those for the faint of heart. Due to this, as well as the level of detail and difficulty within the game, I’d say this one is not suited toward the younger generation. The control scheme has been worked on very nicely, but even on the lowest difficulties the intricate working of the city, and the often gruesome decisions you must make throughout your time as leader all add up to being just a little more than they could likely handle.
The Run Down
Visuals – Good: All in all the visuals come out very well, and the weather effects especially are on point. I’ve marked this down from Great because in truth I would like the ability to zoom in a little more to take good advantage of the nice photo mode, as well as having had a few visual glitches along my journey with shaky icons and a little awkward clipping. Overall though, this is pretty light stuff, but worth noting for thouse looking for graphic flawlessness.
Audio – Great: After playing for many hours I’ve not noticed any repetition here, which is great considering the effort which must have gone into creating the near constant background chatter you can hear from your citizens. The audio effects for the surrounding weather, and the soundtrack itself come together nicely to give a sound package which is overall a great piece of work.
Narrative – Good: It’s not a story based title, but the narrative that I have found both in the cut scenes as well as throughout your expeditions into the wasteland has been good. The focus is really on city, citizen and resource management, but a good deal of thought has been put into the story along the way, and notes from your citizens depending on the choices you have made are a really welcome touch
Replay – Great: Given that there’s no real battle system here a multiplayer wouldn’t make sense, but you are given a few single player modes to run through including 4 different stories as well as the survival mode. Given the difficulties involved if you’re pushing yourself you’ll likely be restarting the same levels anyway, constantly learning the mistakes from your previous playthrough.
Overall the Pixel Bandits Hope level for Frostpunk Console Edition is a Grab It. For any fans of the genre this one gives a detailed management experience which has been thoughtfully built for console, especially when it comes to the controller layout. The radial building system works really well, and makes sense in the context of this brave new future world as well, and while the decisions have been pretty hard hitting, I’d relished having the opportunity to make them. All in all it’s definitely one of the most detailed RTS titles I’ve played on console, and gives a unique spin to the city management library.