IT’S no secret I love a good city/base-building game. SimCity, Cities: Skylines, Surviving Mars, Evil Genius, Anno 1800 – if it involves building a managing a base or a city, there’s a very good chance I’m interested.
This is why, when I got an e-mail asking if I wanted to check out the upcoming Homeseek (developed by Traptics and published by The Iterative Collective on Steam), I was very much amenable to idea.
The game is set in a Post-Apocalyptic Mad Max-like setting where following a series of unspecified disasters, there’s basically no drinking water left and the few survivors have retreated to Fallout-style bunkers to wait for things to get better. It’s not explicitly said that the water chip has failed in the bunker your survivors come from has failed, but it’s also not said that’s why they are leaving.
Anyway, the survivors make their way out of their bunker and discover that their location makes the planet Arrakis look lush and they need to not only re-establish society, but work towards finding a permanent home somewhere and surviving the threats and challenges of the wasteland in the process.
I went into the demo expecting something akin to Paradox’s Surviving The Aftermath (which I really like), but from what I played it’s closer to Frostpunk, in that it seems to be a post-apocalyptic strategy-through-building game rather than a SimBarterTown experience.
I’ll say this upfront: The demo was not particularly forgiving. Taking too long to get your alternative water sources up and running means everyone will die of thirst.
As you’d expect, there’s a building chain that needs to be researched – for example, you start off with dirty water only but can research (or discover) ways to refine the water to be less toxic to your survivors.
The challenge I had is I just couldn’t get the water refining chain to work – I could source polluted water, and get some of it to the water cleaning building, but from there it just sort of vanished – it didn’t seem to go into anywhere colonists could access it, and farms didn’t seem to be using it either.
Several elements of the preview seemed quite opaque, too – the main goal in one level was to leave the valley, but there wasn’t an option on the world map to send an expedition to wherever you like – you can only send them to identified locations, more of which are revealed as your expeditions visit locations and discover information or resources. It turned out you had to work through these locations to find the ones that would give you the “leave the valley” location.
Sending expeditions into the world is an important part of the game, and making sure they are properly equipped can make for some challenging balancing act decisions – do I give water to the expedition, knowing they might need it for something in the wasteland, or keep it for the settlement which will almost certainly need it – but leave the expedition with less favourable odds?
According to the developers, Homeseek will also feature competitive multiplayer, where players can “Compete against other players in a survival scenario where you do what you have to to succeed in this harsh and unforgiving world” and “sabotage their buildings, steal their resources, and force them into starvation before they do the same to you”.
I’d be lying if I said that aspect of things had much appeal to me (I don’t like competitive multiplayer games at the best of times) but it is an interesting idea so will be worth checking out to see how it comes together.
The demo and its five missions showed a lot of promise, even if I am wary of the Frostpunk “there’s only one right way to do this” approach instead of a more free-form approach as you’d see in more traditional citybuilders.
Having said that, I’m certainly keen to play the full game when it launches later this year (exact date TBC) – the premise is interesting and some of the gameplay elements were engaging too.
Homeseek is due out sometime in Quarter 2 of this year, so I hope the developers continue to refine, polish and add new elements to the game ahead of its release.