Aven Colony Review – City Building In The Stars
Mothership Entertainment hopes to take the city building simulation genre to new heights, as they reach for the stars with the release of Aven Colony. Embracing the core of sim management and construction and infusing it with a refreshing science-fiction setting sounds like the perfect remedy for the otherwise predictable nature and setting of this genre. Did they reach a little too high, or is Aven Colony worthy of a place in the stars? Read our review to find out!
Aven Colony Review
On its surface, Aven Colony is very similar to other games in the city sim genre. You are tasked with nurturing a growing economy, providing essentials for your citizens and ensuring their safety. However, this is not a simple budding metropolis amidst the rolling hills of Earth; this is Aven Prime. A hostile alien planet with deserts, tundras, and wetlands – the likes of the average earthling couldn’t even dream of.
Aven Colony offers two different modes of play: Campaign and Sandbox. Campaign mode offers a series of challenges set in different locations on Aven Prime. A selection of fully voiced advisors will guide you on your way to completing specific tasks in order to reach your overall objective – although these are entirely optional and can be completely ignored. The campaign itself offers an immersive insight into the difficulties human colonists would face when exploring and colonizing an alien planet, including lightning storms, deadly shards of ice falling from above, extraterrestrial disease, strange beings that infect and become one with your buildings, and giant space worms that live underground and spit deadly balls of acid. I didn’t make that last one up.
Instead of acting as simple advisors, the characters that accompany you on your journey have surprisingly complex personalities. They interact with each other, keep you apprised of important story-based events, and lend a hand when it comes to solving some of the bigger problems your colony will face. It’s a nice addition to an otherwise shallow element of the genre.
My biggest problem with the campaign was the pacing. I sat on the first mission for several hours and eventually found myself unable to progress entirely. This was mostly due to lack of experience, but a couple of bugs with recycling resources meant I was unable to recover. I encountered similar problems on future levels. While the story was interesting, it wasn’t enough to drive me through the entirety of the campaign. Thankfully however, Sandbox Mode is another option altogether.
As the name suggest, Sandbox is just that: Aven Prime at your fingertips. You’re free to choose your starting level before messing around with customization options such as objectives, starting resources, Expedition difficulty, and political elements. From that point on, you’re free to experiment with everything Aven Colony has to offer, and this is where the game really shines.
Mothership Entertainment has done a fantastic job of transferring the typical resource management and city planning of Earth-based city building sims to a more believable but science-fiction based setting. Instead of monitoring traffic, you have to ensure your colonists are able to navigate to various places of work through carefully sealed tunnels. Instead of managing pollution from vehicles and industry, you’re utilizing Geothermal Generators and Air Filters to keep a steady flow of power and atmospheric control. While subtle, this changes create for a refreshing take on a genre that often lacks innovation and daring.
Another interesting element that helps set Aven Colony apart from the competition is the seasonal system. Much like Earth, Aven Prime has multiple seasons: winter and not winter. That’s how you come to look at it as the sunny skies provide plenty of power for your Solar Panels and your farms and greenhouses operation at 100% efficiency. Once the cold winds and icy floors hit, you spend much of your time enforcing restrictions on rations, utilizing backup batteries to fill your shortfall of power, and otherwise just hoping you make it through the winter.
Aven Colony has the quality of a AAA city management simulation, all under the price tag of a sneaky indie hit. If you’re a fan of the genre, it’s a must have.