Frostpunk - Analysis
At first everything seemed simple.
The generator worked perfectly and I could support my citizens. We had left London weeks ago, fleeing from the freezing weather that had gripped all of Europe. Sheltered by the generator, we founded the foundations for a new city, a more equitable and fair one ... we only had to survive to see the Sun one more day. What little we managed to pluck from the cold claws of the earth was shared among all. We begin to make the first important decisions; it would end the typical vision of London of dozens of children playing their skins in the chimneys. Children would not have to work, it was hard enough to survive to risk their lives.
However, soon everything goes wrong. Discouragement spreads among citizens and all hope is lost. Some even threaten to leave the safety of the generator and return to London. The pillages begin and there is no choice but to impose a martial law . I decree the formation of a group of guards and a center in charge of combating the propaganda of the deserters with the information of the government. A famine forces us to reject various groups of refugees; my neighbors come first .
In a short time I have managed to crush the insurgency and the few fools to return to London will never be welcome again. The police control everything and my propaganda appeases new dissent movements. Hope soon gives way to blind obedience; We may never get our world back, but we can forge the new world with our will and the coal that powers the generator. The city's flags cover everything and work takes up most of the time. But at least children no longer work in fireplaces.
This is Frostpunk; an urban simulator set in a post-apocalyptic world of steampunk style fused with the studio's very personal vision . When you face a title of this kind, at least from the main part of its mechanics, you expect certain elements in common: managing resources, urban planning and trying to move the city forward. 11 bit studios has taken this central core and turned it into a game that will constantly put us on the ropes to move our city forward. Not because we are going to run out of resources or because a highway is half built, causing traffic jams, but because running out of resources means the literal death of our citizens.
The setting, a world devastated by a sudden glaciation , allows the studio to constantly place ourselves on the ropes. We are not managing any city, but possibly the last city on Earth. Each expense must be measured to the millimeter and each new building must be the correct one because otherwise it could be the last one.
There is not much to explain regarding the central mechanics of Frostpunk that remain practically unchanged with respect to gender so that we, in the role of leader of this chink of hope, concern ourselves only with the peculiarities of his proposal; temperature and moral component .
Because Frostpunk is, in essence, a race against the weather itself . The world has suddenly frozen and everything points to it going to get worse. Humanity, or the surviving embers, has clustered around one of the last generators built to function as the heart of this refuge. The generator will be the center of our city and we will have to keep it in perfect working order. The heat emanates in concentric circles from its center, so the placement of our buildings will depend on how closely we want to have them; The farther the colder and more problems will have its inhabitants or workers.
However, keeping the generator running, while it seems straightforward at first, is one of Frostpunk's biggest complications . We must ensure a constant flow of coal to keep it burning and as we increase its power or its area of effect it will also increase (and greatly) its consumption. Here the problems begin because on more than one occasion we will have to consider what is best for the whole; That the houses are habitable or that the factory workers do not freeze during their shift? What's more, do the cripples living in the nursing home really need heating?
Each of these decisions are constant and daily in Frostpunk. We live in a permanent fight against the climate that, surprise, will only worsen. The temperatures will be lower and lower so we will need more coal or more sacrifices. In order to maintain order and create a relatively stable society, we will have the power to create, on the fly, a new code of laws for our city.
These laws function, roughly speaking, as the abilities of our city. Once every certain hours (the game has its day and night cycle) we can enact a new law. These laws will shape our society not only affecting the spirit and hope of citizens (two factors to take into account) but will allow us to build some buildings or others and activate different skills. We can force, for example, 24-hour shifts on the workers of a building in exchange for increasing the discontent of our population or, for example, prohibiting child labor increasing the hope of our society but losing a good number of workers.
During the first days of this new world, our laws and management possibilities are focused on pure survival; in adapting our society to this new situation. However, there will come a time when our society is at a point of no return . The world will never be as we remember it and we must adapt. It is in this situation that 11 bit studios once again plays on its moral axis and proposes two new branches of law to choose from; or blind obedience to work or hope above all else.
Both elections will allow us to have a new law book and new buildings, but they will profoundly affect the way we play ... and see our citizens. In our first long game we were forced to choose the path of order . Much of the city wanted to go to London, and we could not allow it, so work, obedience, and state vigilance became our weapons to maintain order.
As if this were not enough 11 bit studios does not leave us a single moment of rest. We will constantly receive notifications and calls for attention from our citizens . Issues that we must address as soon as possible and that are resolved, in essence, in two ways: either by making promises or by making decisions on the fly. Perhaps it is too cold and we are asked to heat a minimum of homes. We can come up and say, as good politicians that we are, that we will not heat only some homes but all of them. Said and done, we will have a few days to fulfill and keep our promise and if we do not succeed ... hope and discontent will spread freely. Sometimes these conversations with our citizens are simply resolved through elections in different dialogues; We may have caught someone stealing food for their sick child and we have to decide what to do with it or decide, on the fly, whether to give up resources for some important research ... sometimes, simply, we receive the affection of our citizens who are happy, for example, not seeing your children working to earn a living.
Frostpunk sprays this variation of the urban simulation with a complex, and necessary, research system that will allow us to improve our constructions and power the generator. This engineering and research process will also allow us to carry out one of the most interesting elements of the game: sending expeditions abroad. We will be able to investigate the surroundings of our city in search of survivors, resources or, who knows, some answer to the sudden glaciation. However, your city may not be ready to discover some bleak truths hidden by ice.
11 bit studios has been able to radically change third by creating a complex urban management simulator without leaving its studio label . Everything in Frostpunk works on two levels; as a strategic element and as a moral compass. Perhaps it does not reach the harshness of the proposal of This War of Mine but the truth is that the ability of the title to make us doubt with each decision is surprising. On April 24 the cold will reach your computers ... and who knows if your hearts.