Colonizing other planets is a long grueling, painstakingly and difficult process. However, Mothership Entertainment and Publishers Team 17 have managed to turn colonizing into a fun city building experience with their Sim builder/sci-fi/strategy game “Aven Colony” (which is a game where you attempt to create thriving colonies in harsh alien environments). So for this review feature, we will be looking at the first couple of planets, Vanaar and Sandy Gulch not to spoil later game levels.
When it comes to city builders, some can look really nice on the cover but a lot of them can be vastly complicated with messy UI’s and statistics that are thrown at you from the left and right. Simply put, it’s not exactly accessible to a casual gamer. Nevertheless, I found “Aven Colony” to be very accessible. So much so that after playing the two very simple tutorial missions, I was creating my first colony in no time. Things are pretty uncomplicated. As all you have to do is to grow some farms, add some habitats with tunnels helping your citizens get to work, Mine minerals for trade, and build an immigration centre to grow your colony. Things slowly start to stack up as your colony grows, more citizens means more workers and creates room for expansion. However, if you become reckless things can get rather hairy.
Each planet you land on has its own set of challenges, my first planet “Vanaar” was earth like in its presentation, rich in minerals and perfect for farming. However, it suffered from extreme winters and storms. You see, the winters would freeze the ground solid killing my crops, huge lightning storms hammered my settlement until I erected some lightening towers. It wasn’t long until I found myself with food shortages and had to regulate my rations (this pissed off a few citizens) I then decided to hit the trade hub and sell off my Iron for Rice until I had stabilized my farms and built a few Greenhouses to give me a crop supply during Winter.
Sandy Gulch was an entire different beast to Vanaar, because vast deserts don’t make a great hotbed for farms, I had prioritized trade until I was able to branch out to the small amount of fertile ground in the distance. Two completely distinctive areas gave me two different challenges, and things got way more interesting when a giant sand worm (“Dune”, is that you?) popped up by my encampment and killed my wind turbine! This is a theme that continues in later stages, each presenting a new threat and challenge as well as developing a story.
“Aven Colony” is a nice-looking game. The environments look nice, but of course what’s more important is how cool your colony looks later in the game, and this can be a mixed bag. Despite the power of my PlayStation Pro, it hasn’t been optimized for 4K so areas don’t look as crisp and gorgeous as they could. So compared to the competition it could look nicer. In terms of building some of the structures isn’t as exciting as ones you’d see in Sim City, there is a variety of what you can build it’s just not as epic or surreal as I would like it to be.
So “maybe” we could see some kind of option to customize a colony such as a color palette? (because I don’t want every building to be a glossy white structure). You know, like different variants of buildings so that no two sky scrapers look exactly the same? I mean, that’s what makes each building unique rather instead of being just a carbon copy. Simply put, there’s a clear difference between a rough and ready colony to an exotic exodus. So let’s hope that there will be a customization option of this kind in the future.
Other than that, there are a couple of issues that I came across while playing. Such as stuttering and jerkiness while moving the camera being the main one, it didn’t exactly flow smoothly. For some strange reason, I wasn’t able to select colonists in “CCTV mode” (despite being shown how in the tutorial) this persisted throughout the game. So no matter how many times I pressed X, I couldn’t see how happy by citizen was and had to find them through other means. Another frequent issue was the commute problems. As the tunnels are the only method of transport for citizens, and I struggled to rectify this issue. So it would be nice for a monorail option (this is the future after all) to help expand your colony, which would make sense in terms of commutes. So as the Colony Governor, I would recommend that.
Nevertheless, “Aven Colony” is a nice little Sim builder (despite said issues). Furthermore, it certainly becomes more interesting as you build towards the end game. Especially with the inclusion of both characters and story as you play, and this most definitely changes things up for the better. However, whether the niggling issues will be ironed out with time remains to be seen, but I hope that the game will be supported with extra content to help it thrive. Because as it stands right now I am enjoying “Aven Colony” a whole lot, and I would love to enjoy it even more in the future.
So if you’re into city-building, sci-fi and strategy games. Then you might want to give “Aven Colony” a try.
Version tested PS4 Pro
+ Simple and Accessible
+ Alien worlds with their own threats
– Samey buildings
– Visuals could be nicer
– A few niggling bugs
Sound and Music: 4/5
Replay Value: 3/5
Mothership Entertainment’s “Aven Colony” is a fun Sim Builder. It’s also worth pointing out that the hint of a developing story might make this Sim Builder stand out among the others. Sadly enough though, the game does suffer from a handful of issues.
Title: Aven Colony
Developer: Mothership Entertainment
Genre: Sim Builder
Release date: 25/07/17
Difficulty: Medium to Hard
Spent time: 7 Hours
Average grade internationally: TBA Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating: 12+
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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