INSOMNIA

Aven Colony (2017, PC)

By Marcin S. / August 16, 2017


This is one of those games that look excellent and nicely complex on your first go, but, as hours pass, you realise that there's something wrong here. And there's quite a lot of bad things all around. Going one by one using the internet's favorite form, the list (in no particular order though):

1) It's shallow. You look a the building tab, it's full of neat-looking buildings... but then you look closer — oh my, "mine level 1, 2, 3, other mine level 1, 2". It's the same building, five times! Same goes for food production, energy generation and so on. If they limited everything to one building, without splitting them into levels, the build bar would just be filled with ten icons or so. And the whole thing is essentially that — managing the needs of the colony, by maintaining positive balances of five things, using an ever-increasing number of five types of buildings. Air, water, energy, food, nanites. Yeah, there's some extra stuff like happiness buildings but... it's a thing, that you plop on the map, there, done. Doesn't look amazing, does something, enjoy, citizens! You might have to trade some melons for robots in order to make it work though...

2) It's not well thought out. There are many concepts in the game that look interesting at first but turn out to be just afterthoughts. Alien artifacts, trading, expeditions, the entire campaign — they're all there, but as you keep plopping buildings, you start to ask yourself: What is the reason for these things to be in the game?!? There are threats in the game, but as long as you plop some special buildings, which are dirt cheap, they are completely meaningless. There's a hundred different forms of food in the game, but as long as you make five different ones, the colonists are happy and it makes no sense to do anything else about food.

3) The colony looks dead. I.e. the visuals are just unappealing. Take a look at the latest Anno game, how the cities there move, with flying cars zipping along roads and buildings animating constantly. Enjoy the excellent look of the cities at night. Now have a look at Aven... Most of the buildings have zero animated components (or just a blinking light or something like that). There are really tiny people walking along the corridors that are seriously hard to spot. There's no night cycle, just a boring-looking winter season. The farms plop their fields in "best spots" creating an ever-more messy patchwork of farmland. Oh, and let's not forget that lovely blur effect they added that will make your eyes tired after ten minutes of playing the game.

4) The campaign (or how you get to make a big colony and then are immediately asked to forget about it) is crap. Again, going back to Anno, the campaign there is about making your company great. You settle areas and are asked to reach certain milestones. But then you reach the final one, and your company is great and powerful and you can finally continue on your own towards the ultimate goal of world domination. Here, the campaign asks you to spend hours building a colony, and then says, "Great, thanks, now we're gonna delete what you built and ask you to build it again, but this time on a brown map, instead of a green one". And that's repeated eight times or so... with differently colored maps... Why not make it coherent? Have a global map, connect the colonies with some trading routes? I don't know, have a colony that makes lots of nanites, transfer them to another one... have anything but what's there now!

   I could go on but this is way too long already so... They promise some sort of a content drop, not sure what it'll be, but at this time I can't recommend the game. Go play Anno instead (with any number at the end but I would recommend the latest two). Or if you're more into building stuff, try Cities: Skylines.

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