By: Laura Collins (Blu3Rizing)
Developer: Codebyfire, Mode 7, Auroch Digital
Publisher: Auroch Digital
Available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Review Console: Nintendo Switch
Admittedly, I was initially wary when looking into playing The Colonists for the first time. After acquiring the Nintendo Switch a few years back, it quickly became my favored system strictly for its ease of use and portability, which allowed for not only gaming on the go no matter where I was but also for more streamlined play.
I played several city builders and various strategy games on the Switch previously, but the controls tend to feel clunky, especially when comparing them to the ones I play on PC. Until The Colonists, I had yet to find a settlement game for the Nintendo Switch to be truly enjoyable, but the controls seemed almost natural and required far less effort to adjust to than what I was expecting.
The Colonists puts you in the middle of the 21st century with a cute intro to read before giving you control over a little sentient Robot colony trying to escape the monotony of endless production. Thus, they must find and build a new home for themselves, where they could fulfill their utmost dream, to be human.
The tutorial was not especially under or overwhelming, giving me the information needed to progress while not bogging down or restricting the gameplay more than was necessary. I did find, though, that The Colonists does provide you with a mostly useful “Advisor” that will give you details of the current mission along with useful tips and tricks just in case you get stuck or are unsure of how you should proceed. For most situations, I was left to discover and find my own path.
Though definitely less intensive or intricate than something like Anno, there is still much to be offered and discovered once you reach your new potential home. You are first tasked with building things to meet the first essential needs of your robot colony; things like lumberjack huts, surface mines, wells, fishing huts, and residential housing. From there and through research, in order to unlock them, you move to constructing Orchards, Cow Farms, Harbours, etc., to fulfill more of the wants and desires of your robot colony.
Once you complete an end-goal on one planet, the situation resets, and your colony starts over on a new one and gains access to the ability to unlock more complex structures and buildings.
For me, on one hand, this kept the game and levels from getting overly stale and kept the gameplay fresh. On the other hand, new planets required new lay-outs, which sometimes required quite a bit of trial and error, some demolishing and rebuilding in many cases just to make everything work efficiently or at all. That being said, any knowledge gained in this area can be used on the next planet once you move on to a new campaign level.
On that same note, buildings require upkeep and strict supervision, in that if you don’t pay attention to them, just one thing, be it not enough water, stone, wood, or anything else, can put a hitch in production and drive the entire colony to a grinding and sudden halt.
Typically, I require some sort of Story-Mode to become immersed in a game, and so I spent most of my time in The Colonists within the Campaign mode, but there were also two other modes available as well. You have Sandbox Mode, which lets you play as you please without any of the guidelines or necessary accomplishments while allowing you to tweak certain features and settings, and then Challenge Trophies Mode, which basically has you Speed Run to reach certain milestones as quickly and efficiently as possible.
There are some aspects, mainly in the guidance area, that I would like to see, but overall, I would have to say The Colonists is definitely on my list of favorited city-builders, and I am eager to see what comes next.