Frostpunk (PC) Review

By Athanasios 25.04.2018

Review for Frostpunk on PC

11 bit studios' This War of Mine made it clear that the developer is no stranger to strategy titles that view things from a more societal point of view. As such, Frostpunk is not what it looks on the outside. Instead of it being just another city management sim, albeit one that takes place during an ice age, this is more like a survival game that, besides the typical resource gathering, construction, and tech research, heavily focuses on the moral aspect of it all, which is what separates great post-apocalyptic settings from the rest.

Will you rule with cold logic and do what needs to be done, or prefer to warm the hearts of your people with hope, rather than warm their stomachs with soup? The icy wasteland of Frostpunk has you in charge of the wellbeing of a team of refugees, but, from the moment the generator in the centre of your infant city starts pumping out heat, it's up to you to decide how it will all continue. Take the first problem thrown at the player's feet, for instance: the resources that can be gathered are in short supply, and the hands available simply aren't enough. Your choices…?

Well, you can sign a law that allows using children as labour, unless keeping them away from trouble feels like the right thing to do. Young'uns carrying scrap metal will make people lose hope and become slightly agitated by your decision, but being an idealist won't bring food to the table, or coal to your furnace, either. All this, of course, is a balancing act that requires avoiding going to the far end of each extreme, as transforming into a ruthless dictator will ignite revolution, and being a moron who thinks that omelettes can be made without breaking some eggs will quickly fill the cemetery.

Screenshot for Frostpunk on PC

As a resource management game this is very, very good. It's not as deep as Tropico, or as balanced as Sid Meier's Civilization VI, but trying to create the best city will make most lose track of time, as they experiment with building placement on a radial, expanding grid, or micromanaging resources and workers down to single digits. Make no mistake, though, the best thing on offer here is, undoubtedly, the immersion. Frostpunk wants to make you feel as if you are truly there fighting the elements, and, thankfully, succeeds in doing so.

Besides the grey morality shebang, there's a feeling of urgency here that's rarely found in the genre. Whereas being careless in WarCraft, or any other strategy title, will leave you with an army that's not as strong as you need it to be, being careless here with, say, coal, means that you will spend the night away watching a tiny deposit quickly diminish if the amount that was gathered during the day wasn't enough to keep the community warm… and all while the weather forecast is showing a fierce blizzard coming up at the end of the week.

Screenshot for Frostpunk on PC

The presentation is top-notch, too, with a great attention to detail on all fronts, like the way structures change depending on how chilly or hot things are on the inside, how workers open up paths on the snow while walking, and, finally, how the HUD itself freezes up when the temperature is taking a dip, making you "feel" the cold in the comfort of your home. Add to all that the sound of the howling wind, the melancholic music, and the cries that can be heard every once in a while, and the result is engrossing, to say the least.

The only flaw visually is how the art style is not as striking as would be expected from what is essentially a steampunk story taking place during an alternative version of the Victorian era. As a result, everything looks great, but far from distinctive, something that hurts the gameplay as well, since very often it's annoyingly hard to understand what is what, especially when the city slowly but steadily becomes a pretty crowded ant farm, with rows of almost identical buildings being cramped together.

Screenshot for Frostpunk on PC

Another issue, although not a really big one, is how the tutorial screens aren't as informative as they should be. Sure, they are far from useless, and will be offered in the right portions, and thus never bore to death, but they could be a little more informative than that. Frostpunk is a pretty demanding odyssey, so there are no small details that should only be kept aside for the pros to find out on their own, something that becomes evident after spending five whole hours with this, and start getting those "I wish I knew about that" vibes.

Thankfully, and despite the room for improvement, this is an awesome time sink. Just be prepared for something that's a somewhat slow kind of deal, and which requires lots of micro-management. As far as content goes, while it has a pretty satisfying replay value, it isn't really that big of a title, and, while challenging, it's not as much as some would want to - but that's not where it's true value lies. Frostpunk is, above all, an experience. It's not just a game that lets players create a city, but one that makes them actually care for it as if they live there themselves.

Screenshot for Frostpunk on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Frostpunk isn't perfect, but it doesn't really matter, as this is playing a different kind of ball game that has a unique charm of its own. It engrosses players into its frozen, post-apocalyptic world, and lets them do more than just design a city; it lets them really fear about failing, and it lets them feel immense joy for every small victory. It's a survival strategy game at its best.

Developer

11 Bit Studios

Publisher

11 Bit Studios

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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