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Frostpunk PS NOW Review

Frostpunk is a city-building survival simulation game available this month on PS NOW and it is brilliant. Frostpunk is the one of best games you’ve not yet played. Frostpunk employs the radial menu similar to what we’ve seen in other city buildings before like Cities: Skylines and Tropico. Just like in those other games the controls do take a bit of time to learn as there’s a lot to navigate around but the game does a great job at steering you in the right direction and the intuitive design means you’ll be flicking through the menus with ease in no time at all. 

Frostpunk is a city builder set in an alternative 19th Century England where history has taken a different path and the world is now in the throes of a new ice age and you are the leader of a small community that needs to build up your town and keep people safe, fed and crucially warm. This is no easy task in the new ice age but you do have a head start thanks to the core of your community, a great big steam generator that provides limited heat and power.

It starts off just about strong enough to keep your inner circle of your town warm but you will upgrade it over time allowing its lifesaving heat and power to stretch far and wide. You start with just a small community of people who all need to be put to work, scavenging whatever supplies are lying around as no hands should be wasted. With careful management of your work crews, you can thrive and succeed and it’s necessary to keep the town alive. You’ll find coal, metal and wood in the vicinity of your base and you need to assign workers to collect them however these natural supplies will only last so long.

You need to be thinking about building mines and wall drills to keep the supplies flowing long term. At first it seems easy and then people start to get sick. Working out in the cold will kill anyone after enough exposure and when the workers get sick the work force numbers dwindle and the supplies start to slow down. Everything has a knock-on effect; fewer workers mean less resources which could mean less coal for the generator and less food for the hungry mouths and eventually less support for your role as leader. Managing the work force and the flow of resources is vital to your colony’s survival and your reign as leader. 

As the game opens up new research, new technologies and social structures via laws things gets a little easier. You can send scouting parties to explore nearby locations and a successful scouting trip could result in a decent haul of much needed resources or even new people to join your town. Though more people do mean more mouths to feed and homes to build and keep warm. It also means more hands to put to work and it’s a constant balancing act of keeping people happy, fed, housed and warm while also making sure to collect supplies for whatever lies around the corner.

The temperature gauge at the top of the screen tells you the current temperature as well as giving you a bit of a warning on when the temperature will fluctuate either upwards or downwards. You can use this knowledge to plan ahead a little. If a cold snap is coming, stockpile as much coal as possible and it’s going to warm up and give those workers some rest and turn down the heat to balance their time off. Often a truly horrible storm will make its way to your town and the temperature will plummet harshly.

You do get a few days’ notice so there is time to prepare but if you fail to prepare you’re going to end up with a lot of sick workers and maybe some dead bodies too. You can always sacrifice the happiness of the few for the good of the many by forcing coal workers to work extended shifts to keep the generates running through the harsher periods but do this too often and you will have to face the consequences. 

This is what I really enjoyed about Frostpunk as no matter how prepared you think you are it’s difficult to ever get to a position where you’re truly comfortable and can look a storm in the face without having to pay with bodies. Even with the latest upgrades and automatons which are big machines that can work any job a human can but they don’t need food or heat. There’s always the risk that something will go wrong and the next storm is always around the corner and the next crisis could happen at any time.

In other games I’d always hit a point where I couldn’t lose even if I tried, Frostpunk has yet to give me that security. Frostpunk keeps you on your frostbitten toes at all times and for a relatively chilled genre, city builders aren’t known for their excitement. I was always looking forward to the next challenge, the next big decision I had to make or the next chapter in my own story. Admittedly my story ended up with me being banished to the icy wilderness a few times after displeasing the townsfolk a bit too much.

This rarely happened early on in the game and it was usually after putting a couple of hours into building my arctic metropolis that things would go wrong and I’d be left speechless as im ushered out of town. The game’s presentation and circular grid work amazingly well and I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure about it at first because it seemed like the maps would be a bit too small, even the larger ones and yet they are still a bit too small for my liking but that’s by design. 

You have to play smart and you have to use the limited space that you’ve got in the best possible way. The game forces you to reuse and recycle areas once they’ve served their purpose to build homes and workplaces in logical manners that reduce exposure but maximize productivity. Frostpunk’s story mode is around 14 hours long and will end on day 38, you can replay the game to make some different choices and see how that turns out but playing through it once you will have seen most of what Frostpunk has to offer. 

Endless mode is great if you want to continue playing Frostpunk after the story and like the name implies you can play on until you are either banished or had enough of this game. Frostpunk is a unique twist on an ancient genre but even after more than 30 hours of play I’m still excited by the prospect of starting a new colony in arctic Britain. So, if you enjoy City building games or you are looking for a challenge check this game out on PS NOW.

Excellent

Agonizing conditions force tough decisions about how to run your camp and this game effectively pits short-term and long-term goals against one another to create a challenging and fun game.

9
Gameplay:
9.5
Graphics:
9
Soundtrack:
8.5

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