Remember when Funcom used to make good games? Me too. Unfortunately, in recent years, the Norwegian developer has seemed determined to remake all of its old hits, but somehow manage to make them all worse. Case in point: The Colonists, a 4X strategy game that’s available on the Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game follows the same pattern as Funcom’s other recent games, like Conan Exiles. Which is to say, it’s a barely functional mess that’s only fun for the first few hours.
Released in late 2017, The Colonists is a strategy game designed by Daedalic Entertainment Studio West that takes inspiration from games like SimCity and Civilization. In the game, you are an unnamed colonist who must establish a sustainable colony in a strange world surrounded by alien ruins. To do this, you must manage your colonists’ needs and desires, while defending them against alien threats.
I do love a good city building simulator. Even though they are meant for the PC, because they were always designed with the mouse as the interface, I still look forward to ports of these games on consoles. Especially on Switch, because the ability to create entire civilizations along the way never bores. Even if I have to accept confusing control schemes and sometimes not-so-good graphics to do so. It’s time to see if The Colonists, an indie game that originally came out in 2018, has made a smooth transition to Nintendo’s handheld.
It’s a game where you control a group of small robots on a brand new planet to establish a brand new colony, a brand new civilization in which they can thrive. To do this, you need to start with the basics: Build living huts, get water from wells, fish or grow vegetables to feed your workers, etc. Yes, there’s no point in feeding a bunch of robots fish or asking them for apple juice, but the idea of this game didn’t interest me as soon as I started playing it. I decided I had nothing to worry about, and that was just as well.
The colonials are very slow at first. It takes forever to collect resources and discover new perks and buildings. Building the first infrastructure is a tough job, especially when you’re on a map without resources like fish or iron. What makes it worse is the confusing user interface and operating system, which for some absurd reason is not compatible with touchscreens. You’ll have to spend some time playing The Colonists’ campaign mode (which acts as a long tutorial) to understand how it all works. But once you do, the game becomes fun.
The game gets more and more exciting once you explore the first upgrade package you can build in your workshop. If you do, you’ll gain access to a lot of new buildings, upgrades, and resources to collect. You can build ships and explore the ocean. You can also improve the quality of your routes, which will significantly increase your logistical efficiency. You’ll even be able to sell resources through the spaceport, and also fight rival robot factions as you encounter each other during the game, though this can be disabled before creating a new sandbox map. When you realize that your city is able to survive on its own thanks to the logistics infrastructure you have planned, you can only be proud of your achievement.
Another thing that impressed me about The Colonists, especially the Switch port, was the execution. It runs at a rate of 60 frames per second throughout the movie. It doesn’t matter if you’re in mobile mode or if your city is filled with buildings and robots going about their business: Overall performance remains as stable as can be. Graphically the game cannot be called extensive, it consists mainly of low polygon objects, but it has its own charm. The robots are cute and look like a colony of little Wall-E’s going about their business. The soundtrack is nothing special, but it is calm and soothing, just like the rest of the game.
The Colonists is a game whose basic gameplay makes up for the weakness of the controls and the excessive cumbersomeness that sometimes results. It’s not the most creative city builder on the market, but like most of its counterparts, once you figure out how to grow your city properly and sustainably, you won’t be able to stop playing. If you can stand the confusing interface, this game will appeal to fans of Tropico and Sim City.
|It may not be the most detailed game, but the robot designs are very cute. The game also always runs at 60fps, even if your colony is huge and you’re in portable mode.||The developers did their best to translate the mouse-based controls to the console, but some interfaces proved too confusing, especially with the lack of touchscreen support.|
|The soundtrack is a bit repetitive, but it’s calm and soothing, much like The Colonists as a whole.||It can be extremely frustrating at times, especially in the first moments after a new score, but once your colony grows, you won’t be able to stop playing.|
|Final decision: 7.5|
The Colonists is already available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.
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A copy of The Colonists was provided by the publisher.
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