In the world of mundane city building and strategy games that players eventually get tired of and move on to the next challenge, Frostpunk stands out as the perfect combination of survival, city-building, and sentiment. It is a captivating strategy game, inspired by some of the classics in the genre, but with an added touch of depth that is too good to ignore. It may seem like a daunting task to play the game, as one can take a surface look at the gameplay and be aware of the toughness of involved, but it never gets boring once you get into it. Indie games like Frostpunk are a rare find but with everything that goes into its structure, the design is worth an applause.
Story: Set in the late nineteenth century, the world is faced with a volcanic winter that has led to widespread crop failure and death of millions. The British built generators in the coal-rich North that were designed to be city-centers in the event that the winter causes mass migration from the South. The game has three different scenarios: A New Home, The Arks, and The Refugees. In each of them, the player serves to be the leader of the city and must manage resources as the main political authority. The player must ensure the city’s survival, along with all its inhabitants, making sure that the balance between dwindling hope and rising discontent is struck right.
Play Style: The complexity that goes into the gameplay is where Frostpunk shines, particularly as an indie game. With outstanding animation depicting a Victorian themed game of thrones of sorts, it has bleakly beautiful graphics, with workers treading flawlessly and fires illuminating buildings in the sky. Iconography can be something to get a hang of at first, but once you familiarize yourself with everything, it is tough to not see through the game to the end. You have to make decisions for not only your city but for the sake of humanity itself. It is complex system and city-building games are never easy to handle, but the developers limited resources in order to make the game feasible to play. Day and night cycles for workers also add depth to the game, along with the needs of sustenance for them. Moreover, and most impressively, you have to take political actions with regard to rationing and management. These involve sticking to the Book of Laws that give structure to the society, but also pondering over acceptance of personal requests that have dire emotions attached to them. The balance of hope and discontent must be struck correctly, or else the city and hence the world is bound to collapse.
Audience: If you are looking for a serious strategic challenge and are willing to really put your decision-making skills to the test, then you are really going to love this game. Fans of the Warcraft strategy-game series and games like Command & Conquer will not only appreciate the city-building aspect, but also the political element attached to it. However, if you are looking for a quick escape as you wait on your commute or on the toilet, this game is not for you.
Platforms: Frostpunk is available on Microsoft Windows.
Verdict: Even with all its complexity and depth, Frostpunk never becomes overwhelming. The developers keep the pace of revealing everything in the game at an ideal level, and you get accustomed to all the things going on in an incredibly comfortable way. With its unique and variable gameplay, the challenge of Frostpunk and the reward that comes with it is something you should not miss out on.