Review: Frostpunk

Lastly, the brunt of the snow storm will arrive forcing temperatures to drop down to as low as -150 degrees Celsius and preventing all workers from even going outside let alone work. The captain is forced to fend off the clutches of the storm with what little food and resources that were stockpiled prior. This is where most players might find their fates, but those who manage to survive past the storm will be greeted with an ending that varies depending on the results of the population and if the player chose faith or order.

Frostpunk’s art direction somehow simultaneously blended familiar and almost cliché, gritty shades of brown and gray with the often-underrated white of a frozen wasteland. This did reinforce the idea that your city was the last bastion of an apocalyptic event where hope was running thin. As the temperature grew colder, crystalline cracks of ice would cover the borders of the game’s user interface and snow flurries transitioned menu screens from one to the other. Visually, the game ensured that the player never forgot about the cold even while tinkering with game options. With that in mind, Frostpunk’s graphics can be taxing on older systems so 4GB of VRAM is recommended for the higher graphical options.

The soundtrack consists of vivid but slow strings in more somber moments with the intensity of the notes rising as the situation becomes more and more desperate. The music does a fantastic job of complementing the art aesthetic of the game by stressing the player just enough to make that last decision that much harder to make. If there’s anything 11 Bit Studios knows how to do, it’s setting the mood.

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PROS

  • The “steampunk on ice” aesthetic is unique and done right
  • Gameplay is easy to pick up, and difficult to master

CONS

  • The game really is punishing to those new to city-builders

 

Final Thoughts

While I am not a connoisseur of city-building titles, Frostpunk seems to stand out by making the objective of survival a lesson to be learned rather than a goal to be achieved. Multiple times I replayed through the game trying to change from my prior mistakes and, while I made progress, I still didn’t quite do good enough to survive past the big storm in the end. Eventually I would succumb to the temperatures killing off my population one by one or I would be unable to meet demands and thus discord spread throughout the people. Every time I failed, I felt like it was my duty to try again but with smarter plans and a good understanding of what I needed to do for a better result. Even though it may have a steep asking price for some, Frostpunk is a fine addition to anyone’s Steam library. Frostpunk is $29.99 on Steam and gets the final verdict: Buy it. Maybe you can do better than I did.

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