I assume most people, or maybe it’s just me, happen to dream of space and the great beyond and the life that is out there beyond the stars. What would a colony of humans look like on a new planet? Could they freely explore this new world or would have have to be contained within oxygen enriched tunnels to travel to and from work on a daily basis? Would they have to fend off an alien race? Although Aven Colony doesn’t let you explore the stars, it does allow you to imagine building a colony on an unknown planet and allows you to become the Governor of the colonization of the human race on a new planet called Aven Prime.
Aven Colony is a scifi city builder at heart with exploration and survival as an aside. I’ve played a few city builders. Not extensively, but enough to understand how they are played and enjoy what they have to offer. When it comes to scifi games though, I absolutely have to check it out. I feel like I’ve said it enough, but I am a huge scifi fan. It’s hard to talk about Aven Colony’s gameplay without mentioning the similarities to other city builders. The Tropico series comes to mind with its Scenarios, rise to dictatorship, and some region exploration. Additionally, Cities:Skylines comes to mind with its familiar UI and finally, at its core, the mechanics of city building from Sim City.
As it should, each scenario starts roughly the same in that you must start building up the power supply, water, food and living space. The foundation to build upon though varies as does the challenges of the terrain and climate depending one the location around Aven Prime you are situated. Like Earth, Aven Prime varies in climate. As a result, there are a number of challenges you will face in various scenarios throughout the campaign. The campaign scenarios are situated at key locations around the planet that have been scouted by your team that indicate fertile soil for farming, curious objects to investigate and the challenge of temperate climates to try and survive in.
I enjoyed the scenarios. I really did. I liked progressing through this engaging scifi story of wonder and exploration upon a new alien planet with technology to discover, and creatures to see. In other city builders I find that it you are given either just a sandbox to build what you want or you have that somewhat engaging story being told through scenarios. However Aven Colony luckily has both. Scenarios and a sandbox component.
Apparently I tend to rush the scenario goals and get overwhelmed with tasks. My first scenario I failed halfway through as I rushed while trying to learn everything at once. I ran out of food as a result of no storage and no power while juggling the other issues on hand. If you find people are getting unhappy, recycle your buildings and move them to where you can expand the commute and will receive a higher percentage of productivity. I later realized that the overlays are very useful and should be brought up every once and a while in addition to the notifications to see how happy the citizens are, the air quality, crime rates and so on to quickly balance everything out and complete the scenario with ease. They are also useful for finding terrain with abundant water supply and food growth.
It might seem logical to build all housing in one area like a subdivision, but it can be difficult for people to commute. I found that it is easier to build some smaller outposts near work so people are happier.
Controls are quite intuitive in that you can control the camera with the mouse smoothly using the left button to move around, right button to rotate and middle mouse wheel to zoom. It is important to move around the map quickly with all the tasks available, even if it is a small colony.
The maps in Aven Colony are quite big, even if by view distance in some cases, and I found myself pausing the game and staring at the vast alien landscapes beyond while watching the local foliage, storms or worldly activity. Sandy Gulch for instance has large holes in the ground that are just begging to be explored by a rover in third person view, however that is not something that can be done in this game. The Winter season adds the challenge of reduced food output from farms and the one map that is set in a snowy plain, you are very limited with where you can setup a farm to obtain food.
That moment I unlocked expeditions, I was surprised and happy to explore! A new tab is accessible at the bottom of the UI bar and it brings up a large map with various points to click on that range from rescue missions, collecting supply drops, and exploring areas of interest to progress your research and the story. Over time, new locations had unlocked to continue exploring and it just sort of ran in the background while I focused on building the colony. And as a bonus, I unlocked additional resources that I may have desperately needed depending on if I poorly balanced my power, water or food consumption.
I’m not sure how much of the Sandbox mode I’ll play since I don’t have any major creativity for large scale city building or micromanagement, but when finishing a scenario, I did feel the need to continue past the victory screen and expand the colony I spent an hour and a half building. So we’ll see. With that said, it does allow a lot of deployability and creativity for those who enjoy that sort of thing, and the beautiful environments are a big plus.
Be sure to check Aven Colony on Steam when it releases in a few weeks on July 25th. If you need a reminder of how awesome the game looks, view the trailer below and let us know what you think.
Check out the Console User Interface:
A Steam code for this preview was provided for free for preview purposes. This does not affect the opinion of the content or value of released game.