The Colonists Review

Technology is advancing at a rate where we have robot police, robot cleaners, and, if we are not careful, will end up hitting the Singularity, and have robot overlords. Auroch Digital’s The Colonists is not concerned with this terrifying future and instead imagines a future where robots have evolved to want their own place in the cosmos. Instead of overthrowing humans they have decided to take to the stars and carve a space for themselves, while being adorable little Wall-E types.

That’s pretty much the entire plot. The best place to start is the campaign that starts as a tutorial for the games systems. The ship touches down and the aim is to create a sustainable resource system. Early on the player needs water and food to generate power. This means they need a well and one of three food generators (either fish, Sheep, or vegetables). Generating power allows for lumbering and mining (stone, coals, iron, etc) operations. As the robots’ domain gets bigger, linked by a network of roads built by the player, this will segue into needing to expand territory with watchtowers, and eventually boats, trains and beyond.

What’s impressive is that game is calculating a lot of different things under the hood, from how much is outgoing and incoming of each of the resources, down to the names of each little helper robot, but it is never overwhelming. In fact, if the player so chooses, the campaign can be kept almost entirely stress free, with no antagonists and just a case of figuring out where to direct their attention next and which resource to gather.

This ended up being exactly what I wanted from this game, from the light cartoon aesthetic and the chilled-out music lends The Colonists’s a soothing ambiance. It felt good to just let the game run and have a network of little workers, running to and fro, cutting down trees, hauling freight and mining coal. This has the pleasant dopamine drip of ‘I just got this thing, what does it do? I’ll just play this game for another 10 minutes’ that found me playing this late into the night.

There are additional routes through the campaign, a challenge mode and a sandbox mode, that allow for that relaxation to be removed. The campaign has conflict encounters where there is enemy AI racing for control for the areas. Challenges that focus on timed trials that want the player to build certain edifices within a time limit. Finally, there is a Sandbox mode that can contain aggressors, and also allows for more freeform, random play. None of these were my favourite way to play the game, but I am thankful that these options were there for those want to push themselves and optimise.

My only real gripes are about some of the optimisation, and the staying power of the title. When the map is zoomed out there are a great deal of items that will disappear, and the map can at a glance seem quite barren as a result. As for the staying power, the sandbox mode should offer infinite variety but once all the toys have been revealed (which takes a long time admittedly) I felt less inclined to come back. This is not enough for me to not recommend the title though.

Conclusion

The Colonists is a ‘warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold day’ kind of game, very comforting, peaceful RTS with plenty of depth and stats under the hood to warrant sticking with it.  

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Cutesy visuals
  • Deep economy that is easy to get into
  • Lots to do
  • Not everything has to be about violence
Bad
  • Pulled out view makes the game look barren
8.1
Great
Gameplay - 8
Graphics - 8.5
Audio - 8.5
Longevity - 7.5
Written by
AJ Small is a games industry veteran, starting in QA back in 2004. He currently walks the earth in search of the tastiest/seediest drinking holes as part of his attempt to tell every single person on the planet that Speedball 2 and The Chaos Engine are the greatest games ever made. He can be found on twitter (@badgercommander), where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.

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