Our Rating: 8/10
A new ice age has ravaged humanity in the Frostpunk universe. We’ll begin by commanding a group of survivors. They left a desolate London with no clear direction and only a vague idea of how to proceed. They find a massive generator at the bottom of a massive crater after a few days of hellish walking.
There are resources within that crater that can be used to power the generator, produce heat, and thus plan a new beginning for an eighty-person group. In our role as leaders, we must ensure our survival at all costs.
An icy hell
The opening of Frostpunk is bleak and cruel. We have a group of eighty survivors, including fifteen children (who should not work in principle), and the only thing that stands out above the frozen landscape is the central generator and masses of wood, coal, and steel strewn about the crater. The temperature is 20 degrees below zero at the start. Because they have nowhere to go, they will have to start building shelters from the ground up.
This kickoff sets the tone for the rest of the campaign, as Frostpunk will never be an easy experience, whether it’s managing resources or making decisions. There is a day counter, and we will always know what time it is. This will be necessary when determining working hours.
The number of variables that must be considered in Frostpunk is staggering, and they all follow the logic: the coal will power the generator, which will generate a sphere of heat around it. As a result, the buildings we construct in the area will have a better temperature than the rest.
As you might expect, the most important thing in an icy setting with these characteristics will be to combat the dreadful cold if we don’t want the disease to begin decimating our population. Building houses out of wood will be necessary. However, we’ll also need a medical post, a post for hunters who go out in search of food, a dining room, and workshops to research new resources.
Of course, some hours will be better for work than others. So we’ll build the city in a ring shape around the generator that provides heat and energy to the entire crater. As the game progresses, we’ll discover new ways to obtain heat. This will keep our people alive, but it won’t be easy. Frostpunk’s world will not wait for you to be prepared, and it will attack you with all of its might.
Unlike other titles in the genre, Frostpunk has a clear goal that drives our progress through the adventure. The weather conditions do not remain constant, and certain events (some planned, others unplanned) will strike our civilization. We can see a small weather forecast warning of increasing frosts, and we must remember that wear is one of our greatest enemies.
Resources are limited, and the chances of becoming ill increase as working hours and temperatures decrease. As a result, in Frostpunk You can’t just stay or hold on for as long as possible; you’ll have to try to evolve faster before the weather worsens; sacrifices will be necessary.
As leaders, we must make decisions that will have an impact on the true determinants of our survival. On a sociological level, if we were to be confronted with extreme situations like those posed by Frostpunk. Discontent and hope will be the two factors we will have to deal with as leaders. Our group’s success or failure will be determined by finding a balance between these two emotions.
Frostpunk’s greatest strength, aside from testing our morality and ability to handle such a dire situation, is the seamless integration of its management and decision-making mechanics. Aside from resource and building management, we can write new laws in the law book from time to time that will determine the direction our society takes.
For instance, you might find yourself in a situation where resources are scarce but working hours are restricted. You have several options for dealing with this situation using the law book, but they all come at the expense of your mental health and the well-being of your citizens. Will you choose to give children who work in low-risk jobs the green light? Or will you allow for intensive days in specific tasks to be established? If food is in short supply, you can order sawdust-filled rations to save money. Children may have to work alongside adults in the collection work if they reach a point of despair.
All of these laws will have a direct impact on citizens’ lives, raising issues and doubts: What will you do if a mother refuses to drive her daughter to work that morning? Giving her some time off will boost hope a little, but you’ll lose one worker that day. And when should you decide whether or not to amputate a wounded person’s leg to save their life? There is no such thing as a bad choice; beyond the consequences that the game foreshadows, hope and dissatisfaction abound. In the end, Frostpunk is about probabilities and everything that entails.
For example, in one game, the poor soul to whom you decided to amputate a limb to save his life may survive and thank you, but in another, he may commit suicide by crippling himself. Decisions and their ramifications
Everything for the people, but without the people
Your people will also expect you to keep certain promises from time to time: building a cemetery for them or honoring the dead will give them hope, but there may come a time when they will ask you to keep all of their homes warm for two days. These circumstances place you in a unique situation.
You’re frustrated and disconnected from your friends, which emphasizes the action camera’s distant perspective. The resources are limited, a harsher frost is on the way, a fifth of the population is sick, and these people are only concerned with a cemetery? If you spend the resources and time necessary to build that cemetery, it will increase their hope and allow you to stay in power longer, but you may be condemning the entire city in the face of the crisis that threatens you.
More to explore
Frostpunk isn’t going to bother you with explaining this to your people because it’s not what its mechanics are designed for. Those elections consider factors other than popular opinion, as well as those that risk everything to avoid immediate pain. Frostpunk allows you to take them all; it will not judge you for it; however, even if the numbers support your decisions and you can see the light of a new day, you will never be completely certain that you did the right thing.
Your civilization will be able to explore other territories at some point during the campaign. It will become open to the rest of the world (or whatever is left of it). The consequences of these events will strike your society hard, forcing you to choose between repression and discipline and faith and hope in your legislation.
Both decision trees have a large number of different, but equally difficult, options. Your city’s evolution will be fantastic and full of opportunities. All of this fantastic playable set is bolstered by a very striking and recognizable aesthetic section, full of fantastic and beautiful details like the heat rings around the heat sources; the sound effects and soundtrack complete a sublime setting.
The most significant flaw I’ve discovered with Frostpunk is its high difficulty; while this serves to convey feelings and a message to the player (which is one of the game’s greatest achievements), it also leaves many important aspects of the game unexplained. Our first attempts were complete failures. However, this was due to the game’s meager instructions, which only teach you how to play, not how to survive.
To progress in Frostpunk, you might go through not only a long period of trial and error but also documentation in the form of gameplays from players far more experienced. Frostpunk’s style of play was justified by a set of unwritten rules that he avoids explaining to you. We believe this should be included in the face of inexperienced players. There are also times when the game feels unfair to the outcome of many of its events. This might ruin your progress in a matter of minutes due to its nature based on constant statistics. Then again, thinking about it coldly (pun intended), no. Isn’t it a far cry from everyday life?
Frostpunk appears to be a fantastic resource management game. It will be remembered for how the weight of our decisions is shifted to the gameplay. One of the most intense games ever driven by the constant threat of a new ice age. Its difficulty is perfectly matched to the message and emotions you want to convey. Though this may set you back more than one.