I love playing city-builder games and recently came across Aven Colony. It’s a Sci-fi take on the city-builder genre and is similar to Anno 2205. You will play as a human colony who have stumbled across an alien planet and wish to start a new colony. The planet is called Aven Prime, which has similar resources and terrain to earth, and are tasked with building and maintaining settlements on this new planet. Though it won’t be easy due to the various obstacles that will come your way; such as alien life forms and freak storms. This will be a quick hands-on preview of the game and it will just go over some of the gameplay features.
The game has a campaign mode, as well as a sandbox mode, which offers an array of different landscapes for you to choose from. The campaign’s missions become more challenging, with new objects becoming harder to achieve. It recommends that you play the Holo-Sim tutorials first, just so you can get a feel for the game. The tutorials were very engaging and short which is always a bonus because it meant that I could jump straight into the main game. I decided for the purposes of this preview to try out two of the campaign missions, the first one being Vanaar and the second one being Sandy-Gulch.
So Vanaar was like a tropical landscape, which had plant life and water. As soon as the mission loaded I was impressed with the game, the graphics were good and the gameplay was simple, and I was able to start building my colony without any problems. I was tasked with making a colony that can support hundreds of people, manufacture food and enhance substances from alien planet species, as well as constructing an Earth History Centre. From the get go you’re allocated mission objectives from the ‘mission objectives’ system that aids in colony management, giving you certain tasks to fulfil and then rewarding you for doing so. This was nice as I always felt like there was something going on, and the plus side of it was that I didn’t just have to stick to the mission, I was able to build and manage things by myself without the game trying to steer me in a certain direction. The UI is very neat and easy to navigate through, as well as the Overlay mode and Colony Control Panel. These were very helpful when playing because the Overlay mode allowed you to see your employment, electricity, and farming resources and commute overlays (to name a few) so that you could monitor everything, and if there was any problems it would highlight them for you. The Colony Control Panel showed various statistics to do with your buildings and inhabitants, population and morale data and much more. These allowed me while playing to have a better understanding of the game, and understand everything that was going on, which I really enjoyed. In these games you tend to have a whole load of shortcuts so that you can open certain windows or build things without having to navigate through the menus, I found with Aven Colony that these were made really clear and I found myself using then quite a lot which made gameplay run a lot more fluently. You can pause gameplay for when you want to make edits to your colony, without effecting the lives of your people, as well as speed up time to make building or season go by quicker. Which when winter came around was very handy. In the game a year is represented as a Sol and it is worth keeping an eye on because when its winter you will have difficulty growing crops and the solar panels will take less energy, so through the year you have to make sure you have managed everything correctly so that you are prepare through this time. You’ll have referendums where the people of your colony can vote you out of power if you’re doing a poor job, you can defend yourself by building Lighting Towers, Plasma Turrets, Police Drones and Scrubber Drones to battle the various difficulties life on Aven Prime will throw at you. While playing this mission alone I was taken back by how much detail this game had gone into, you was even able to select single people in the colony and see how they were and if they were happy with their lifestyle. I managed to complete this mission without any problems and have to say that the amount of detail that went into the gameplay was incredible.
Then I started the Sandy-Gulch level and this time round it wanted me to make a successful mining colony. The landscape was baron and like a desert, and things got a little more difficulty with harsher living conditions as well as the alien residents in the area. I found the colony’s people to be more demanding and a little harder to manage, but it was really enjoyable and not too difficult. I loved the dialog in the game, it kept me updated and informed of any new objectives or major changes in the colony.
The game is currently in beta and available from itch.io, you’ll be able to experience the full game on PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One when it’s released in Q2 2017. The mission objective system that is present in the campaign is a good feature, as well as having a separate sandbox mode for the player who just want to get stuck in and customise their own experience. The season cycles, various alien life forms and the in-depth features that allow you to manage your colony, always kept me on my toes to make sure that everything was running smoothly. The game caters for both novice and experienced players allowing anyone to enjoy the city-building genre. From the hours that I’ve put into Aven Colony I will definitely be looking at picking up the full game when it comes out.