When the Earth is no longer habitable, we’ll be looking to the skies to find a new planet to build on and call home.
The genre of city builder is a fairly obscure one in terms of the Xbox One, and the welcome introduction of Aven Colony from Team17 brings a fresh twist to the idea. Humankind has had to leave Earth to discover a new Planet, one that comes in the form of Aven Prime – a planet with vastly varying climates and condition. As the Colony Governor, its your job to make sure your colonists are happy with the supplies they have. You’ll need to monitor the food, water and air quality to name just a few of your responsibilities. As you progress through the missions, you will encounter more and more dangers.
A year on Aven Prime consists of two seasons, the long Spring and the deceivingly longer Winter. Each year is called a Sol, and you’ll need to utilise the warm, lush Spring seasons to survive the cold, barren Winter seasons. You can grow crops during the Spring for use in the Winter, when farmland becomes useless. Every 3 Sols, a Referendum takes place, which means you must keep more than half of your colonists happy to be re-elected for the next term – this gives a new emphasis on keeping your population happy.
In the story mode, members of the team give you targets, which, when completed, reward you with food and valuable building resources. The leader of the team – who, to me, sounds a lot like Judi Dench – also gives you tips and warnings depending on the state of your resources. The occurrence of Shard Storms and Creep Spores can be quite annoying if ill-prepared, however as long as you repair afterwards, you should be fine. The tutorial missions do a great job of getting you used to the HUD and the general mechanics of the game.
The other game mode, Sandbox, is just like the Story Mode, only with no set missions to complete. While it doesn’t give you unlimited resources, it still allows you to build your colony however you like. Personally, I prefer a target to work towards, so I preferred the main Story Mode.
The graphics are amazing and the attention to detail is great. Some buildings are designed very cleverly, with the Research Centre shaped as a microscope and a VR Centre shaped as a VR Headset – even small, minute things like this really stand out for me. The music on the game is perfect for the setting. Being a game set in space, the music sounds very atmospheric, almost a cross between Star Wars and Halo.
The lack of city builders on Console could be due to the lack of a mouse and keyboard, however Team17 have redefined the controls to optimise them for console, and, while they take a while to get used to, they work really well.
There is no online multiplayer functionality, so you won’t be able to visit your friends’ worlds, which, in a city builder, isn’t essential. Keeping colonists happy can be a pain, but having them not protesting is very rewarding to say the least. Only two missions are unlocked with the game – to unlock more you must “complete” the mission before, something I have been unable to do so far. I’m not entirely sure what “completing” a level really means, nor do I know how long it will take, but different missions feature different, more exciting climates, ones that I am looking forward to being tested in.
Aven Colony will launch on the 25th July on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.