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Aven Colony

Posted by GG Goblin On August - 7 - 2017

Welcome to Aven Prime, please excuse the giant worms.

 
Contrary to popular media, it would appear that colonizing an alien planet is not so much about running through alien forests, being chased by some unknown threat, or finding some alien artifact that will change the course of humanity, or even about living on just potatoes. Or, at least, not according to Mothership Entertainment’s Aven Colony, an alien city-building and management game.

 
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It would seem that setting up a new home on an alien planet is more about balance and forward preparation. Sure, there is some room there for crazy storms and sand worms, but in Aven Colony it is much more familiar to other city building games, with an alien flavour.

 
Setting up home on the beautiful Aven Prime will require juggling a fair few different systems to make the colony a success, and remain in power. Failure to do a good job will see the player lose their position, so there is a very real threat of losing in the game. A selection of campaign scenarios will introduce the player slowly to the different systems that they will have to master, while also exposing the player to the delights of an alien planet. The scenarios drop the player into different environments on Aven Prime, and these different settings are gradually unlocked in sandbox mode, where the player can tweak all manner of different things to change their game up. A selection of different difficulty levels will keep the game fresh and challenging for further down the line.

 
So, what does it take to set up home on an alien planet? Well, housing for colonists for starters, and maintaining good air quality to keep your colonists healthy. The placement of the buildings, which are all built quite quickly by drones, is incredibly important as the colonists are surprisingly lazy and are not willing to walk far to their designated work place. There are also a variety of area of effect buildings that will be needed for certain issues that may come up later, so making room for these and thinking about the future can save a headache later in the game.

 
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So yeah, like many other city-builders, there is balance needed. You provide housing, which attracts more colonists. The colonists need clean air and power, along with food and entertainment and the like, so that they will happily go to work in the mines or farming, to further expand the colony to allow more colonists so that you can put more to work for more resources, etc. The system works really well, although it doesn’t always make sense. But the game is very clear about what the player can do and what they cannot.

 
As the player progresses, different buildings will become available offering yet more options. Many of these buildings have specific purposes, such as dealing with some of the crises that will inevitably pop up on an alien planet. The likes of lightning storms can be dealt with as long as the player has the right building in place, and the damage caused by toxic gas or ice shards can be lessened by forward planning. These events that often come along and threaten your colony become much less of an issue with the placement of the right buildings.

 
The same could be said of the recurring problem of Winter. With the onset of this season, solar power is less effective and food production wanes. That can be a problem if the player has not built up a healthy stockpile. But again, the effects of Winter can be lessened with the right buildings.

 
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Adding a bit more flavour to the game, another building that can be unlocked and built revolves around expeditions, being able to explore the rest of the planet. While the actual act of going out on these away missions may not give the player much to do, as it is just a matter of choosing where to send the expedition and then waiting for the outcome, they are a handy source of more resources and a nice little diversion.

 
There is something quite extra-terrestrial to the visuals in Aven Colony. While the buildings can look a little bland, they do make sense from a colonizing an alien planet perspective. However, it is the environments that really stand out, as they look stunning. The developers could have really played on the whole alien nature of the landscapes, but have toned it down to keep it as realistic as possible. The level of detail is nice and the whole game is well polished.

 
It is not all alien sunsets and walks along the purple beach in Aven Colony however. The game itself is very solid, with a great selection of mechanics that integrate with each other well, and the UI and information available to the player are clear and do what they should. The problem is that there is not much of a wow factor here. The moment to moment gameplay is functional, but not especially exciting, and the alien threats tend to be more of a nuisance than game defining moments.

 
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Aven Colony is a good, solid city building and management game that just so happens to be set on an alien planet. It may have been a missed opportunity to bring something truly alien to this genre, but the game is still plenty enjoyable for fans of building and managing cities. If you fancy being mayor on an alien planet, give Aven Colony a try.

 

 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 



 

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