Frostpunk is a horrible game. Not because it’s bad – it is an amazing experience with a brilliant gameplay flow – but because it forces you to face a reality where most of humanity has died under an unrelenting eternal winter.
Made by the same studio behind This War of Mine, Frostpunk is a steampunk city-management/survival game set in the middle of a snow apocalypse. You are the leader of a group of survivors establishing a city around one of several old heat generators built far from the rioting major cities.
Frostpunk revolves around keeping your citizens alive, fighting an uphill battle to keep them fed and warm. Food and temperature complement the constant balance of the hope and discontent bars, which monitors the population’s spirit amid the overwhelming frigid blizzard. If either of those bars reaches an extreme, your people give you an ultimatum that if gone unaddressed, ends the game.
Keeping those bars high requires a mix of building decisions and ethical choices, thanks to the game’s several social events. From child labour to triage treatments that kill a third of sick to save the rest, the game constantly freshens up the experience by interjecting occurrences for you to address in.
Some of those social events happen in direct relationship to what you have passed into the Book of Laws, the tome that governs your post-apocalyptic society. New laws can be passed every couple of days, acting as a research tree that unlock new abilities and buildings.
As the game progresses and society changes, so do the laws, and eventually whole new categories open up in the form of the mutually exclusive Order and Faith. These go from sensible actions such as opening churches and forming patrol watches to dictatorial extremes like declaring yourself a prophet or creating a dystopian government-enforced oppression.
The actual meat of Frostpunk consists of scenarios that act like mini-campaigns made up of a single level. Each ones takes around 8-10 hours to complete, and the game ships with three of them with promise of more to come. They’re very distinct and extremely engaging, offering a bespoke narrative that allows players to create their city as they see fit while offering frequently changing circumstances.
The one thing uniting all campaigns – aside from the inhuman cold – is emotion. Frostpunk masterfully creates an emotionally charged experience that has you worrying for your virtual citizens in ways few games do. This is all helped by the fact that the AI never causes issues when assigning people, effectively mitigating the classic city-builder survival immersion-breaking frustration of your people not doing as they are told for arcane idiotic reasons.
By the end of a scenario, you are treated to an amazing timelapse that chronicles the growth of your city and recalls the decisions you made, perfectly topping up a hard and intense experience. Frostpunk is definitely one of the most engaging strategy games around, and one that deserves to be experienced.
Frostpunk is definitely one of the most engaging strategy games around, and one that deserves to be experienced.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Surviving the blizzard without losing a single life.
Beautiful weather effects
Perfect game balance
Novel thematic mechanics
Extremely restrictive camera
Slightly cookie-cutter events that use generic people instead of your unique citizens