Autonauts (PC) Review

By Eric Ace 17.10.2019

Review for Autonauts on PC

Developed by Denki and published by Curve Digital, Autonauts is a self-defined mix of genres that range from life sims, to construction/city builders, with a dose of computer programming thrown in. A largely casual game, taking the role of a settler on a planet, you must slowly build up resources and construct robots to help with these tasks, allowing for further and further expansion of abilities. Utilizing a visual programming language to instruct the robots, the game can function as a type of educational game as well.

Autonauts is a weird game in that it mixes a few genres together in a way that works pretty well. Part life simulation, part construction, part crafting game, part city builder, and part computer programming class, it all comes together in a way that at once is not too overwhelming, and largely functions in a way that keeps the player interested. Starting on an uninhabited planet, the player is roughly starting in what might be a 'Stone Age,' short of the robots that can be built which will be touched on in a moment.

Early gameplay revolves around scavenging through the woods for sticks or stones to make simple tools like axes or shovels. The very first trees must be chopped down with just a stone, and it takes forever. Soon you can make a stone axe, which makes the process just a little faster, letting you do other things just a little faster. From here the very beginnings of the city start to be built. After securing some wood, now it's time to get some stone, then build something to store all these things. Next create things that can be built from your wood, soon allowing you to mine stone… and on goes the process of starting from nothing and slowly advancing.

The largest part of the game is the 'automation' with the robots. It has a degree of complexity, but it walks you through the basics pretty well. After making a robot, the player can then "program" the robot through a visual language of acting out their orders and having the robot repeat it. This would be something like having the robot 'find nearest tree,' 'move to nearest tree,' 'cut down tree,' 'repeat previous steps forever.' Now you have just created a wood chopper robot for perpetuity. This is the simplest pattern, and it can get complicated quickly - such as having robots travel to areas, wait for things to be done, gathering and unloading elsewhere and so on.

Screenshot for Autonauts on PC

There is an addictive element in wanting "just one more robot" to maybe help so the player doesn't have to gather stone, or maybe one to go give robots items they need, or one to clear up areas so they look better. One thing about this is the whole process is literally teaching players elements of computer programming. The scripts can be as complex as a player can design them, and this clever implementation is a cool idea. Learning to think logically while playing a game never hurt anyone.

One thing to note, is that the tutorials are great. This might be an odd thing to mention in general as, it seems quite the rage these days to complain how bad or unnecessary tutorials are. The game is actually complicated under the surface, and the early parts of it walk the player through in a way that truly deserves praise. Allowing mistakes, exploration, and softly guiding you back to the path it was something that stood out big time. Unfortunately some of the tutorials later on seemed bugged with recording robot orders, or referred to unclear things, but overall this part was commendable.

The only real issues holding this title back is some degree of pacing problems at times, when production lines inevitably grind to a halt from running out of power or items, and a bit of a grind to personally make robots to fix these small problems. Some other minor issues are things being unclear, such as where unlocked stuff actually goes, or how to find certain things. Moreover, at its roots it is a city builder, so don't come in expecting anything different with this one, or any major evolutions of gameplay.

Screenshot for Autonauts on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Despite its cartoony graphics, this game is a surprisingly solid city builder. There is enough here that fans of the various genres this takes from will find it enjoyable as they craft their ever-growing city and automation empire. Programming the robots is oddly satisfying as is watching them roll around and taking care of the smaller tasks. A couple of small bugs and some pacing issues prevent it from being truly great, but those remotely interested in the genre will definitely have a lot of fun with this one.

Developer

Denki

Publisher

Curve Digital

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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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