ReviewsReview: The Colonists

Review: The Colonists

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You work hard your whole life, just to feel unappreciated. The world around you is moving at a million miles per hour, yet you are stuck in a rut. You have two options; accept your fate and keep working, or break free, run away, and start a new life with like-minded individuals. In The Colonists, the self-replicating robots chose option 2!

Developed by CodeByFire and Auroch Digital and published by Auroch Digital, this is a cute strategy resource management simulation game with a robotic twist. You control an ever-growing army of robots who want to find their own piece of paradise and fulfil their dream of becoming humans. Scan the surrounding land, harvest the resources, and expand your fleeting settlement.

The Colonists returns to basics.

City building games have gone from strength to strength. Its fanbase loves the in-depth world you live in and the many options that are available to you. But casual players can be overwhelmed and confused. What I loved about The Colonists was the simplicity of its approach. From the start, it’s welcoming, easy to understand, and engrossing. Not that it has no depth, because it’s much more complex than it first lets on.

With multiple modes available to choose, and no real story to speak of, you are free to write your own narrative for each mission you undertake. The Campaign comprises fourteen stages, split across two routes; a peaceful existence where you expand your colony as quick or slow as you wish. The other is an all-out battle with other robots who inhabit the planet with you. The second mode requires quick thinking, forward planning, and a fair amount of luck to be successful.

You may also try Sandbox mode and Challenge Trophies. The first is self-explanatory and gives you the freedom to set your own rules, allowing you to build to your heart’s content. The second option will test the best colony builders with an array of speed-run challenges. This mode is not for the faint of heart. It’ll push you to your limits and test your patience!

A clean cut UI.

It’s all about the finer details.

Like with all city building games, the devil is in the details. Placing buildings without thought will only lead to failure. You must plan and ensure that you are getting the best out of every robot in your colony. Also, every building relies heavily on another to work correctly. You must ensure there is enough; food, water, energy, timber, stone, metal, etc. The list of requirements goes on and on, but yet, you never feel overwhelmed.

The relaxing nature of the game keeps you calm, even when it’s all going wrong. Your serene existence soon turns hectic as you advance your technology. Basic resources will no longer do, and you must combine many objects to create enhanced energy supplies and other much-needed items. You will feel you are spinning many plates at once, but you are always in control of any situation.

Energy, research and expansion. 

Energy makes the world go round, and this is no different in The Colonists. Every building and action requires an energy source. As already mentioned, the more advanced the structure, the more complex the power source. To begin there will be a vast amount of trial and error. But this is quickly replaced with knowledge and forward-thinking.

You never quite start mastering the game, as there are plenty of research routes for you to take. It is essential to move your robotic people from rudimentary log structures through to the futuristic space age. Progress isn’t quick, and you’ll need to choose your desired route and stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away, forgetting the aim of each mission. Staying disciplined and keeping your robots on track is the only way to be victorious.

I absolutely loved the expansion element. Creating transport links, increasing your borders, and moving from one island to the next like vermin living off the land. It was fantastic! You’ll create; roads, harbours, and railway links. Each helped to transport goods from one area to another. Your colony HQ is like the heart, and the transport links are the veins. If you fail to plan correctly, the goods will get jammed and your people will suffer. This for me was the toughest part of The Colonists. Having to ensure that you placed buildings next to the correct access point to optimise deliveries was a difficult task. With a little practise, you soon overcome this obstacle.

So many ways to improve your tech.

The Colonists is cute, simple, and colourful.

I’m a big fan of city-building games, but one of my pet hates is the overly complicated User Interface that you have to endure. Luckily, radial menus take away this pain. The clean and uncluttered menu system is a joy to work with. It’s easy to understand and wonderful to look through. With the menu hidden away, it allows you to focus on the colourful world in front of you. The vivid landscape is viewed from a bird’s-eye perspective, allowing you the freedom to zoom in and out and pan around any obstacles. With a Fog of War obscuring your view, there is a little mystery during each level. The cartoon style adds a layer of cuteness, to what could have been a cold and joyless environment.

When a game is ported from PC to console, I always worry that there will be performance issues, bugs or glitches. During my time I didn’t discover any problems, making it a pleasure to play. It ran smoothly even when there was a lot happening, especially during the battle stages.

What I found strange was the lack of audio! Yes, there is music, but it isn’t consistent, and comes and goes as it pleases. I enjoyed what I heard; it was in keeping with the theme and set the scene. I just wish that it was used a lot more. At times the action would lull as you were waiting for resources to arrive, or research to be completed. At these moments it would have been nice to relax with the wholesome soundtrack. Instead, you’d be welcomed by silence, and this was unfortunately disappointing.

Get those robots working.

The PC port works brilliantly on console.

My biggest fear when playing a game ported from PC is its control system. Usually, the lack of a Mouse and Keyboard makes for a clunky mess that frustrates and ruins the game. Fear not people, The Colonists has been given its own console mapping which allows gamers to pick up a controller to play it with ease. It’s brilliant, mostly, with quick button responses, and a lack of input lag. My only issue came when trying to exit radial menus. You must cancel each layer you have looked at before you can continue playing. I would have preferred a method to shut down the whole menu instead of having to back out of each one individually. Other than this minor setback, it’s a nearly perfect setup that makes playing it on console a breeze.

Unsurprisingly with so many modes available, this oozes replay value. Its addictive gameplay, ranked objectives, and multiple playing options make you keep playing. A large and difficult achievement list will challenge the most hardcore of completionists, and only the best players will succeed at defeating the Challenge Trophies. With hours of fun to be had, this proves to be great value for money.

The Colonists is a must-have for fans of the genre.

If you love city builders, The Colonists is a game that you must have in your library. Easy to pick up, but tough to master. This is a title that will get you hooked and demand you keep playing. Its campaign mode appears small, but the fourteen stages will eat away hours of your life. With many structures to choose from, a variety of approaches to take, and procedurally generated maps for the Sandbox mode, this is a game that keeps on giving. I loved my time with it and recommend you buy a copy here! The robots have had enough of being bossed around. Help them find their own bit of paradise, and help them fulfil their dreams of becoming human. 

SUMMARY

The Colonists is a fun-filled city building game that is easy to pick up, but deceptively challenging. Advance your technology, plan every move, and live in peace or fight, the choice is yours!

+ Colourful and cute graphics.
+ Wholesome audio, when it was used.
+ A great port from PC.
+ Well designed controller mapping.
+ Addictive.
+ Great Value for money.
- The audio should have been used more.
- Moving resources can become tiresome.

(Reviewed on Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I've now found a new home to write my reviews, and get my opinion out to the masses. Still the lead admin for Xboxseriesfans on Facebook and Instagram. I love the gaming world, and writing about it. I can be contacted at [email protected] for gaming reviews.

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