Economy, colony building is something that I do enjoy. Every so often it’s nice to be able and sit back and not need to worry about coming under attack. Simply balancing input and output, answering the needs, basic and complex of those in the colony. You do not only that here, but go through a reasonably well written story in here as well.
If there’s something I had to talk about first here is the story here. Aven Colony is more than just another city building, economy building game. While you do have all of the basics, perhaps in different skins, they are here. Roads and infrastructure are important and need to be maintained. People need homes, food and jobs, recreation too. All of this has to be linked by tunnels, your roads here. Industry needs storage, to draw its basic supplies from and to store what it makes.
All of that is what you will be doing, not why you’re doing it. From the get go Aven Colony had a clear narrative it was telling. Being the first people down and on the planet, it’s your job to make sure the colony is a viable one. Not just viable, but sustainable too. From your first site, ensuring that you can support even the basics to the other sites. These focus on providing different needs for the developing colony. Some will be farms, some will be industry, some will be enhancers, a set of resources that can boost your population. Some with drawbacks. This clear progression is what I think is easily one of the best parts of this title.
Building your colony across these sites is no easy matter either. Some of them you’re limited where you can place your water pumps, farms and greenhouses. These areas must be used carefully, their use maximised. Others are far more free, but managing the distance between the mining sites is quite large. Not only that, you might have your central town and a few expansion sites. One might give you more power through Zorium mines and power stations. Another might be focused on giving you potash, to help your farms or iron, copper, to make the nanites you need. Planning these and keeping the people you need there, but no more, will take time to master.
If there’s one thing about the game which tripped me up at first, it’s the idea of travel. It’s not just something that people will put up with. If it’s too long, it will affect their morale. Quite notable, in that the many referendums I’ve seen, it was often a factor in their complaints. Managing this is quite complex and will take up a fair amount of time.
The next thing worth talking about is that unlike some other games where you have five, six, more different basic building supplies here you only have one. Nanites are the core of your economy and you will be struggling to keep them coming in all the way through the game. At first, it’s because you don’t have the iron, copper, kelko sludge to keep making them. Late game when you’re trading them for resources to keep your people happy. Their part in construction is obvious, but not the tier system. Once you’ve built and upgraded a structure, you can build it at its maximum tier should you want to.
Another feature which I do enjoy comes from the expeditions you can launch. These are things which you don’t have any direct control over, yet can make and break a colony. As you explore the areas around your colony you can get plenty of resources. Not only that, you’re also able to reduce some of the threats to your colony. Namely the plague spores and the creep.
The rest of the basics are here as well. You have a number of policies you can set. Some have positive reactions from the populace, others quite negative. Martial Law and water, power rationing is quite hard to balance out, yet the Auto Repair policy can simply and make your city that bit healthier, in repair. You can trade with other colony sites and the colony ship itself. You can control the resources, food, being used by your population. Both from the policy menu and from the structures themselves.
Audio and Visuals
If there was one thing that just sucked me in at first was the background music. I was often slowing time to allow me to enjoy the background music. For a strange moment, across some of the later maps I even thought I was listening the music from Akira. The more time I spent playing the more I appreciated the voice acting too. Not just from the colony leaders, but the people in the colony. There’s the chatter from the population and if you’re missed out an important warning, you can hear protests telling you just what you need to fix. Especially when it comes to the air quality. Not only that, it’s possible to hear the weather change. Not just winter, but if you have a coming storm. When lightning hits it has that kick it needs.
Which leads nicely into the visuals of this game. One thing which just stands out here is the lightning, how it ripples down the lightning towers. It’s a small thing and it’s often enough that you can notice. Many of these buildings have quite a bit of detail if you look at them closely. So to, do the different zones you build in. These have a feeling of being that bit alien, but similar. Deserts have a wonderful emptiness and plains, forests have plenty to them which makes take that bit more care when you’re planning your expansions. Your own colony has plenty of meat to it as well. The ability to look inside the tunnels and see the people moving about.
Single player only and it doesn’t need it at all.
I’m a bit of a sucker for these types of games. As much as I enjoy fleet building, the more destructive aspects of the RTS, that’s not all I play. These games have a wonderful change of pace. Rather than what flank you push or which altitude you dominate, planning your expansions takes just as much time and practise. It’s not just building things as needed, it’s planning the districts to make the best use of the buildings, not doubling up. Not only that it’s keeping your inputs and outputs balanced, so you don’t need vast amounts of storage. All of this takes a certain time to master. If you’re a fan of the genre, give this a go. You might enjoy what’s in here.
This is reviewed for the Xbox One, though it’s also released on the PS 4 and PC, through Steam.