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The Colonists

Posted by GG Goblin On November - 9 - 2018

Someone swapped my settlers for robots.

The Settlers is 25 years old now. That is quite an age for a video game series, proving that along the way it must have done something right. So, when it comes to inspiration, looking to a game series that has been running for that long is surely a route to success. One man development team Codebyfire have used this inspiration for their latest game The Colonists which replaces the little settlers with cute robots searching for a place to call home.

colo1 (Copy)

Humans have been using robots to do all of their grunt work, and eventually the robots have had enough. Rather than rising up, the self-replicating robots head out into space, looking to start their own robot civilization. That’s pretty much the premise for The Colonists, and don’t expect it to expand any further than that. These little robots, while incredibly cute, are obviously a little confused and rather than setting up some technologically appropriate settlement, they seem to only want to emulate their former Human masters. The result is a whole lot of familiar resource management, before moving on and starting again.

The Colonists has ten levels, and the first two levels are introductory, offering a tutorial of sorts that will equip the player with almost everything they need to know to proceed. Players will have to meet the objectives of a given level before moving on to the next, and then they will have to start again from scratch in a new location. The levels vary in length, with most taking at least a couple of hours, and different difficulties can be chosen for each level, so there is a fair amount of gameplay available here.

Anyone who has played any of the early Settlers games will feel at home here. Basically it is all about the supply lines. The little robots can only travel so far, and so the player will have to build a path network along which the little robots can carry the various resources from post to post. Players will have to construct buildings in order to gather the various needed resources, and then transport them along these pathways to wherever they are needed, be it construction sites for new buildings, or special buildings that will refine the resource into something else. Research will lead to further buildings becoming available, and thus new options for the player and the advancement of the colony on a whole.

The cute nature of the visuals may suggest that the game is going to be aimed at the more casual market. However, being successful in The Colonists will take more and more meticulous planning. This is mostly down to the way the robots use the paths to transport resources. If you can imagine, a route from one destination to another will be set up like the bucket chains from fighting fires. The path will have regular checkpoints and between each two checkpoints will be a robot that is responsible for carrying the goods from one checkpoint to another. This mostly works very well, but when more and more goods need to be transported, it is very easy for bottlenecks to appear. If these carry on for long enough without being fixed, the entire colony can grind to a halt.

colo2 (Copy)

The bottleneck issue is not helped by the fact that sometimes the little robots don’t make good decisions. Watching as a robot uses a blocked path when an alternative was available, or collects resources from much farther away than was necessary, can be frustrating. The Colonists is the sort of game where complete and utter failure can sneak up on the player, with nothing that they can do about it.

Once the tutorial levels are completed, the player can then make a choice as to how they proceed. The final eight levels are split into two types. Players can either continue with the whole settlement building side of the game, slowly becoming more and more advanced, or they can take a more aggressive path and start destroying other colonies on the planets. While this does add a slightly different aspect to the game, the reality is that it just means building and maintaining artillery towers, and then taking control of defeated enemy towers.

Progression means unlocking yet more technologically advanced buildings and being able to produce new resources. It can also lead to setting up additional colonies on other islands, and thus expanding the control area and giving access to further resources. Buildings, and even roads, can be upgraded to make them more efficient, giving the player something else to think about as they struggle to control a more and more complex settlement.

Visually, the game looks great. The little robots are cute, and the different types for different jobs are easy to learn. The buildings are nicely varied, and the maps seem to be well thought out and encourage expansion. It is great to sit and watch a well designed colony going about its business in an ant farm kind of way. The soundtrack is nothing special, but fits in with the relaxing pace of the game.

colo4 (Copy)

The Colonists is a fairly solid settlement-building, resource-management game in the style of the early Settlers games. While the ten levels are great and will keep the player entertained for some hours, it really needs more content to justify the near £20 asking price, which I am sure the developer is working on. Still, it is great fun and the hours will fly by once the player invests in the plight of these plucky little robots. Settlement building fans should check out The Colonists.




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