Frostpunk is a city-building survival game developed and published by 11 bit studios. It was released for Microsoft Windows in April 2018, and was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in October 2019. The game received generally positive reviews upon release and sold over 1.4 million copies within the first year from its release.
The game is set in an alternate 1886 where the eruptions of Krakatoa and Mount Tambora, the dimming of the Sun, and other unknown factors caused a worldwide volcanic winter. This in turn led to widespread crop failure and millions of deaths. This event roughly lines up with the historical 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, a volcanic event that led to global cooling. In response to this, several installations called “generators” were built by the British authorities in the coal-rich North, designed to become city centers in the event that dropping temperatures force mass migration from the south. In all scenarios, the player (known by the denizens of their city as “the Captain”) is the leader of a city around a generator, and will have to manage resources to ensure the city’s survival.
The game launched with three scenarios, each with it’s different backgrounds and storylines. Two additional scenarios were added as DLCs, one free to all players and one as part of the Season Pass. Endless Mode was also introduced in a later patch that eschews narrative elements to focus on surviving for as long as possible while weathering intermediate storms.
In Frostpunk, your main concern is the temperature. If the temperature drops really low in your town, your population will get ill and die soon. In your playthroughs, you will encounter some deadly storms. During those, the temperature drops significantly and your workers won’t be able to be 100% productive, meaning that you have to be prepared in advance for when the storm hits. These preparations require a lot of building micro-management, deciding which workers will keep their posts or what heating mechanisms you will use.
Your town is built around a main heat generator that can be upgraded in the future for better range or power. Every building, depending on it’s type and it’s distance from the core, has a different thermal color, warning you if the temperature is dangerously low for your people to work or reside there. You can also make a heating system or small generators, to provide some extra heat to remote buildings. Main generator also features an Overdrive setting, that you must be very careful while using due to the fact that can cause the whole generator to explode.
The basic resources of the game are Coal, Wood, Steel, Raw Food and Food. Coal is the fuel for every generator and essential for controlling the temperature. Wood is generally used for making basic buildings, while Steel is used for more advanced structures. Raw Food can be acquired from animals which you can hunt during the night and if you are planning to turn it into Food you will need a cooking-related building. Later in the game you will also come across some Steam Cores. This is the rarest resource in the game so use it wisely.
Resources and temperature aren’t the only things that you have to manage. Keep in mind that your population will also have a Discontent and a Hope meter. It’s your duty to not let your people down, so you should listen and tend to their demands and also create some laws. In the course of your survival journey, you will also encounter the Londoners. These people will rebel against you and they will try to persuade a part of your population to abandon your town and head back to London. If you don’t keep their numbers low by maintaining the crowd’s faith; riots, conflicts and even deaths may occur.
The Law mechanism, is in my opinion, the greatest aspect of this game. Many times, before voting a law, you will come across some realistic ethical dilemmas. For example you can extend the worker swift to 12 or 24 hours, leading in better productivity but raising the Discontent bar of your workers and risking some injuries or deaths.
Finally, if you advance technologically, the game lets you explore your surroundings with scouts that can scavenge nearby resources or discover other groups of refugees to escort to your town. Advanced technology can also be used in order to survive later storms, by creating giant robot workers called Automatons or researching blueprints that will improve your production rate.
Graphics / Sound
Visually, Frostpunk is quite interesting. The very detailed towns create an amazing atmosphere which is greatly enhanced by the different animations used for day and night. The only downside is that some buildings are similar to each other, so it’s highly likely to get confused and click on a Coal Thumper when you wanted to manage a Sawmill.
Piotr Musial is the mastermind behind Frostpunk’s amazing soundtrack that will give you the chills especially on the later storms of the game. He also won the “Music of the Year” Award for this composition. On the other hand, the special sound effects are acceptable and the game really lacks when it comes to voice acting.
Frostpunk as a game is unique on its whole, rendering the listing of unique features meaningless. There is no combat or enemies, yet you will be on alert every minute of your playthrough. The idea of a city-building survival title is simply superb and will exceed any expectations. In addition, the ethical dilemmas that you will face when you delve deeper into the Laws Sytem are very unique and require attention and critical thinking.
The main story takes around 10 hours to complete, the main+extra 20 hours and the completionist 40 hours. Frostpunk also features the Endless Mode Scenario where you can play forever if you are able to withstand the cold.
Very unique game genre
Amazing atmosphere and sound
Realistic social problems
Small number of scenarios
No voice acting
Primary Version Tested: PC