24

Perhaps Really Warm Socks

May 4, 2018 by Tim

Frostpunk is a survival sim with RTS and city-building elements. As the temperatures plummet amidst a sudden, snowy apocalypse, you are in charge of a caravan of survivors, and tasked with building and maintaining the last city on earth, huddled around a giant coal furnace that is all that stands between you and an icy death.

And did I mention it’s also steampunk-themed?

Yeah.

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Frostpunk embodies a type of balance that I absolutely adore in video games. The sort of gameplay seen in Kingdom Death, or This War Of Mine (the developers of which also made Frostpunk).

It’s the type of game where you get about three minutes of “Okay, everything is under control” at the start, and then never again. You are constantly triaging, back on your heels, just trying to hold everything together, fingers plugged in the levy but there are more leaks than you have digits. It’s the type of game where you have to make some very hard decisions, and there is no clear cut “right choice.” Everything has consequences, and you never feel safe.

It’s intense, its stressful, it’s a fountain of anxiety, and I love it. I love it because it makes victory all the sweeter. And failure all the more memorable.

Frostpunk’s arctic apocalypse adds an interesting spin to the city building genre, and the survival elements take it up a few more notches from there. Because the temperatures will drop to -20c, -40c, -60c or more, warmth is key. Without heat, your society will die. Without coal, the furnaces go out.

You don’t build in a grid, rather you build outwards from the heart of your city, a giant, twenty-story generator. Your city expands in concentric circles from this point, and the further away you get from the center, the more you need to work to manage heat and comfort.

Once the game gets you moving, it doesn’t stop. You’ll need to issue laws to decide how to handle your dead; do you bury them, or leave them to freeze for later use? Do you allow your sick and injured to languish, or do you amputate as necessary and keep on trucking? You’ll even be faced with the choice to put the city’s children to work, or build them a school. It sounds like an obvious decision… until the temperature has dropped and you don’t have enough hands to mine the coal you need, hunt and prepare food, harvest lumber and still treat the sick and frostbitten that need care at your hospital. And then you’ll start questioning if perhaps the children should be pulling their weight.

All of your decisions affect the city’s balance of hope and discontent, the measure of your city’s willingness to soldier on under your command. Your people will frequently voice their frustrations, be it shoddy housing, or not enough food, and you’ll be asked to issue a response, your plan to deal with the situation. You can act conservatively, or promise the moon, but they will hold you accountable if you fail to deliver.

Your people will constantly force you to make uncomfortable decisions and live with the consequences. Early on in one of my games, a man fell extremely ill, and we could save his life if we amputated his leg. But he refused. I had to decide whether to forcibly take is leg, or let him die to make an example out of him. There was no good option there.

Layer in a traditional RTS building hierarchy, city planning with roads and remote heat sources, a tech tree, and a surrounding area to explore with scout parties etc, and Frostpunk offers a beautiful and bleak combination of systems that does a great job of keeping you on the edge of your seat.

My one gripe, and currently its a minor one (though I could see it becoming more of an issue if I wanted to put dozens of hours into the game), is that after you’ve started and restarted a few games, some of the systems underneath start to become a little… predictable. In that once you’ve learned what happens when you make certain decisions, you can see things coming and then it becomes more about planning and clever maneuvering, like putting a puzzle together.

I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, but it does remove some of the “surprise” and perhaps even some replayability from the game, which changes its cadence a bit. Perhaps the developers will address it with updates.

Regardless, if you like city building, steampunk, survival or snow, Frostpunk is definitely worth checking out, and definitely justifies its $30 price tag.

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Tue
Guest
Tue

Go full cult. Easy to keep them “satisfied”.

Eldest Gruff
Member
Eldest Gruff

GREETINGS PROFESSOR FALKEN

HELLO

A STRANGE GAME.
THE ONLY WINNING MOVE IS
NOT TO PLAY.

Tumbleweed
Guest
Tumbleweed

HOW ABOUT A NICE GAME OF CHESS?

Somewhere
Guest
Somewhere

CHESS IS BORING. I CAN SEE ALL THE MOVES FROM THE START,
OOH!
WHAT ABOUT STRIP GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR?

SiliconWolf
Guest
SiliconWolf

Sure, Joshua! May I go first?
sudo reload Overlay_SARAH

Opesinorbit
Guest
Opesinorbit

This is why I come here! My cursor hovered over the Add to cart button when I veered off and purchased Surviving Mars instead. Now I’m suffering from FOMO over Frost Punk.

kane
Guest
kane

I am on my third ‘run’.
till now I’m still ‘winning’, my inputs
1) faith looks easier than order
2) you can build more than one workshop (yes.. I’ve found it by checking steam achievements)
3) this is about surviving, and you have to be a chief, not the best buddy. I can clearly say that my second city, successful for 80% of the game died because of overcrowding.

Axlatl
Guest
Axlatl

When you get the ability to make Workshops the tutorial screen explains that each workshop up to four increases your research speed… 🙂

kane
Guest
kane

BTW, did you had a ‘pleasure’ of playing The War of Mine? Previous game of ths studio?

Tumbleweed
Guest
Tumbleweed

*plays banished game music*

James Rye
Guest
James Rye

I really like Frostpunk, I like the cold-warmth system, how to feed and take care of every citizens and the law makings. What I don’t like is how short it is compared to “This War of Mine” though that is probably due the fast forward system which really speeds up your game. Once you figured out that early Workshops and child shelter + engineer apprentice is the way to go you can beat the game easy as long as you make sure to keep an eye on your food and warmth economy. Still a good game. Would love an RTS… Read more »

kane
Guest
kane

Yeah… I discovered that you can build more than one workshop after my second failure…

James Rye
Guest
James Rye

I don’t even wanna imagine playing with only one workshop…

Rives
Guest

You need to have 3 technologic building and make then work 6h to 20h + 24h when you can.

With that, you can rush a looooot of technology and easy peasy win.

Sry, I can’t understand how to loose at this game… (ok last map is a little tricky at the beggining if you doesnt want childre in work)
Coal thumper and gathering post is like a cheat

kane
Guest
kane

for me it was very simple.. I wanted to be a nice guy, so I accepted everyone, for entire game I had a small amount of spare food, steel and lot’s of coal. And then you get a task to gather ‘a lot’ of food. and it was not possible in a time given by a game

David
Guest
David

Umm if temperature is dropping, and energy resources depleting the way to survive is definitely to develop energy saving / energy recycling technology as fast as possible.

Build as many think tanks as you can, develop tech first to insulate living quarters and diminish coal consumption, then more machinery to turn poop into coal, and then you win. 🙂

kane
Guest
kane

Hi Tim, are comments moderated and waiting for acceptance? Becuase I can’t find my early morning comments.

Somewhere
Guest
Somewhere

Subtle expression changes from the first panel to the second were really well done.

Somewhere
Guest
Somewhere

Also Tim have you decided on who the main Antagonist of Analog and D-pad is? No need to give us a name but is it going to be someone new for 2.0 or is it someone more…”familiar”
Still betting on the whole “Christian is CEO of Megagame” thing

raven0ak
Guest
raven0ak

Still betting Emily or her friend to be master mind

Eldest Gruff
Member
Eldest Gruff

No matter who it appears to be in the short-term, in the end it’ll be EA.

It’ll always be EA.

NNextremNN
Guest
NNextremNN

OH please do this make his name an acronym of EA and just let everyone refer to him that way XD

Hamstermer
Guest
Hamstermer

Here, have it be the CEO who hired Josh in 2.0. How about:
Eric Alektros (Alektros is Greek for Alone, special thanks to a bio teacher who brought up Alectrosaurus)

Hunter
Guest
Hunter

The one gripe I do hear about the game is that it doesn’t change from session to session. Once you’ve beat the game there’s nothing else to do.

I think people misunderstand what this game really is. Frostpunk isn’t a city-builder, nor is it an rts, it’s a thematic survival game with elements of city-builder and rts woven into it.

Once everyone accepts that this isn’t Cities: Skylines with a winter twist, it becomes easier to accept that this game is only good for one, maybe two run throughs.

Kaitensatsuma
Guest
Kaitensatsuma

Well, with post-release development being the norm, it’s a question of how long that will hold to be true.

Axlatl
Guest
Axlatl

I agree it’s definitely worth playing as it is. I just think that even a moderate amount of randomness at various stages would have made it even better as you could replay it. Only element I’ve found that is random is the timing and amounts of the cold/warm snaps and even that is still tied to the story.

I can see why the did it this way it just is a bit frustrating that they didn’t do a little more to make it more engaging long term.

Brent
Guest
Brent

Ah, tauntauns. Best source of nutrition and warmth George Lucas ever gave us. They don’t quite provide Starcaster comics too, but they’ll do in a pinch.

Hamstermer
Guest
Hamstermer

Yes yes happy Star Wars day to you too.

Glen
Guest
Glen

So its a kind of steampunk version of Oregon Trail?

FITCamaro
Guest
FITCamaro

I have been looking forward to this game. But with my current backlog, it’ll be a bit before I buy it and play.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Finally, I’ve played a game before you made a comic about it. I don’t know why that feels so satisfying. I love the game and can’t wait for more scenario’s to come out. I went through each one blind and failed miserably on my first few tries, but eventually I got there. I’m just worried that now that I’ve refined my strategies going for the achievements, the new scenarios might not be as difficult. But at least I learned that as long as I have a few cities full of people for trial and error, I can totally lead the… Read more »

Brendan Keating
Guest
Brendan Keating

So about Frost Punk being a city building game with city building elements… 😛 Might want to reread the news section today 🙂

Axlatl
Guest
Axlatl

Tim looking to play Battletech at all it’s big stompy robots a great story and your own Mercenary company to command…. 🙂

Hamstermer
Guest
Hamstermer

In honor of Star Wars day I’d like to sing a little song:
“Today is Friday,
Friday Tauntaun
Thursday Brawballo
Wednesday Drapsha
Tuesday Gornnar
Monday Yoba
All you hungry children, come and eat it up!”
The foods are random things I took from Wookiepedia. I don’t actually know what exactly most of the are, they just seemed appropriate.

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

I never understood why people got bent out of shape about the Ethan and Lucas reboot. I’ve still enjoyed the comic.

Sadly, after many years, I’m done with CAD and taking the bookmark off my browser. The new website is so poorly made (those drop downs are really buggy and annoying) and it’s swimming in ads. Most critically, the auto-play video ad with max volume audio is absolutely inexcusable. It’s not the comic driving me away, it’s the experience of reading the comic. It’s just not worth it.

Clementine
Guest
Clementine

Tim in hindsight how do you feel about the awfulness of the cad animated series? https://youtu.be/j2uWWjXh3JU