Sometimes you need some bleakness in your gaming world. It’s compelling, even though you feel like it shouldn’t be enjoying it. That is Frostpunk.
11-Bit Studios seem to have a strange talent for making games like this. Their first game, This War of Mine, was equally good despite the never-ending misery. Frostpunk is a very different style of game, but it comes right at you with the same tough decisions and no right answers.
In Frostpunk, you’re running a colony, surviving in a harsh, post-apocalyptic frozen wasteland. Your city is based around a central hub, which is the source of heat for the entire population. Unlike most colony management games, you don’t have external enemies to deal with. Instead, you have to decide how you want to distribute your resources, often choosing between two equally appealing options. Each of those options will come with both positive and negative associations, both for your colony and your morale as a player. I think it adds an interesting layer of RPG-ness to a genre which usually boils the plot down to “we’re the good guys, let’s kill the bad guys”. As well as keep your people fed, you need to manage heat and ensure the city morale survives long enough to get through the upcoming storm.
Games like this are often very difficult to say I “enjoy”, because that’s not the overwhelming emotion I feel playing them. They’re designed to be hard. They’re supposed to make you feel awkward. But that’s exactly what makes them so compelling. Maybe next time you’ll make a different decision, the outcome will improve and you’ll feel better about the whole thing. Maybe, but probably not.
That said, if you’ve got nerves of steel then I would definitely recommend you check it out. The So Bleak award can only really go to one developer in the world right now, and only one game this year. So congratulations 11-Bit Studios, you absolute sickos, this one is for you. You might hate us, but I still love you.
Buy Frostpunk at Green Man Gaming here (affiliate link).
Buy Frostpunk on Steam here.