Platform: PC, Xbox
How was the game received?: Personal Purchase
Genre: Survival Colony Builder
Release Date: TBD
Cost: 17.59 CDN
Where to buy it: Get it Here!
Reviewers PC Specs (Full Overview)
Processor: Intel i9-9900k
RAM: 32GB DDR4 3200MHz
Graphics: NVIDIA RTX 2080TI
Monitor: Asus 1440p – 27″ 144Hz, 1ms Response
Headset: Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro
Mixer: Yamaha MG10XU
Surviving the Aftermath is the latest and, dare I say, most ambitious game from a little known developer out of Finland, Iceflake Studios. Founded in 2007 Iceflake Studios previous projects include mostly mobile experiences across many genres including Target Horizon a modern take on the Atari Missile Command, pool arena an arcade pool experience and Race Arcade a top down racing game that definitely has the Grand Prix vibes from the original NES.
Surviving the Aftermath is a post apocalyptic, nuclear in nature, colony survival game with heavy emphasis on random encounters, events and gradual technology led progression. Yes, this is a concept that we are all very familiar with, many, many games have fallen into this style of raging nuclear devastation on a global scale and pulled at the cold war shoe strings of a begone era reminding us all that, in a blink of an eye, life can change.
Yes this has been done, one thousand times and counting, but, dare I say, none have seemed to accomplish what Iceflake has achieved with this game. At the end of the day, it’s fun, really fun, 6 hour gaming session lasting to 3 am fun, I’ve logged more then 12 hours in 2 days. The gradual progression, the well spaced random encounters, light but definitely satisfying micro management, exploration and fairly “competent” ish AI, more on that later, have made this game a real joy to play.
Is it perfect, no, but the balance is there and the content seems pretty solid. I can easily see 100 hours of playtime at the moment and more to come in the future, again, more on this later. I am a firm believer that play time is not a meter for how good a game is, that’s how you end up with 1000 hour repetitive, open world, mini map icon collectors and a decade of remakes with different outfits, looking at you Assassins Creed.
Other then a few sentences explaining the end of modern civilization and the need to rebuild, your motivation is a deep rooted sense of preservation, survival and rebirth, built into the core of humanity. What more do you need?
Not going to stretch the limits of DLSS 2.0 or RTX and won’t give you emotional goosebumps overwhelming you into tears of joy viewing this in 4K. It’s not bad, dreary setting lends itself to greens, browns and grays but they manage to add color, lighting and special effects that are pretty cool, like the lightening storm i experienced on day 36 pictured above. For the style of game this is, the slightly pixelated and dreary pallet, work well with the lighting from the burning barrels to add life and feeling to the game. This game also sports a full day/night cycle and the environment changes drastically during catastrophic events.
Much like play time mentioned above graphics are nice, but do not by themselves make a game, I would rather be ocean deep with 8bit game-play then splashing around in shallow puddle of photo realism. What they lack in graphics they make up in, well, content, keep reading.
Since the 1st update in November 2019, they have kept a pace one can only describe as regimented in nature delivering content on a almost perfect monthly scheduled as seen below. Not much info outside of twitter posts describing new and upcoming updates, an official road map would be nice to see. The developers and designers seem pretty active on their official forums and many posts shed light into their thought process relating to a recent update or tasty morsel of things to come. Check the forums out Here!
Choose your own adventure!
I really liked this approach, this allows each player to essentially custom suite the game for their play style. Also allows for varying experiences you have 7 different choices which combine in different wants to impact how the random events occur, your starting survivors and resources. Do you like to experience the game with little to no challenge, they got you covered, enjoy your survival raw and served cold, no pro-blem-o.
You are then presented with your basic starting colony with a certain number of survivors and resources depending on your selection above. Hope, I thought, was a fitting name for my first colony dawning a green stash with tree and slogan “Preservation, Survival and Rebirth!”
The objectives are quite simple, build and colony and survive at all costs. This is simple to understand but the game throws some curve-balls your way with environmental hazards like Nuclear waste, wild animals, raiding thugs, natural disasters and cataclysmic events. Combine this with food production being impacted and really sensitive, soft survivors which you wonder how they survived this long whining about restless sleeping and needing filet-mignon each night and you have a pretty good challenge.
As you survive you eventually unlock a simple but fun turn based exploration of the surrounding world. Here you meet other colonies for trade, bandits and scavenge for resources. You require specialist colonists that you pick up randomly and naturally as you progress to be your scouts, these specialist colonists have traits and abilities that alter how they interact with this mode.
Eventually you will discover science points used to unlock a collection of technology perks allowing you to progress your colonists out of the dark ages and into the solar powered era. You will unlock electricity, more advanced food production, buildings, craters, weapons, everything you need to survive. It is actually quite detailed and you will constantly be upgrading and replacing aging infrastructure and updating your colony. The sense of progression here is great, there is no need to contrast special research buildings and jump through hoops, you collect science, plop it into a particular research and wait a short period for it to finish.
Your colonists are varied, have different quarks and stats based on traits they seem to randomly have. They are also impacted by their overall happiness, restless sleep, diet, death and other factors play into this and are constantly changing and needing management to overcome.
Natural Disasters and Events
Natural Disasters and other events come often enough that it keeps you on your toes but enough time in between to get some serious work done on your colony. The spacing is really good actually. When they do some its hard and fast, typically with only 1 day notice, enough time to gather up resources for pending repairs or to make a particular building that may help during the event.
Overall the gameplay is varied, paced well and the sense of progression is top notch, once you get the hang of things you are progressing all the time with the odd setback. I played this on a medium setting and my next play through ill crank up the difficulty.
Basic keyboard and mouse but also supports an Xbox controller. Standard pan zoom, left click etc, its enough for this style of game. They also allow you to pause the game and fast forward which is useful for more experienced players and night cycles where nothing much happens.
Overall I think this is a fantastic game, one of the best colony survival games I have played, the content is deep the possibilities endless and I can see myself playing though many different colonies. For a game that is sub 20 dollars and early access with the content it has today is fantastic. It does have a few bugs as expected with early access, they have also incorporated a handy in game bug reporting tool as you come across them. There is enough of an experience here to get in on it early if you want to see it progress in real time, if you can put up with a few bugs, if not it will be released, at some point in the future and I would highly recommend picking it up. For a game under $20, this is a great value.