Surviving the Aftermath Review
6-6.5/10 :an above average game that is a bit fun, but design choices make it very mediocre
So I got this game when it first came out, played it for a bit then left it alone for two years. I just went back to it recently for this review. I didn’t play much on release, and I felt like people covering the game were too harsh as it released as early access. The devs had a large road map ahead of them, and to be fair they did a really good job sticking to it.
However, it's been two years and they seem pretty far into development if not an actual release date. The next real content update being called endgame. At this point, all criticism and problems with the game should be fair game at this point and give an accurate assessment of what the game is like. According to Epic Games, I sunk 10 hours for this review and I took a lot of notes for this so I won’t be missing a beat for criticism.
Starting a new game
Starting a new game is actually kinda interesting because the difficulty is determined by the choices you make for the world. Like so:
I have a lot of issues with AI. It can get bad enough to actually cause issues with the game. They might work until they die from hypothermia or other diseases, or they might have very bad prior for buildings, and collection for stuff that needs to be done ASAP. This will happen even if you mess with the low, medium, and high priorities of building projects. There was also one time the new survivors I just let in got angry and started attacking right as they entered my colony. This was because they, for whatever reason, were so unhappy entering, they started shooting everyone. The game warns you if your colonists are unhappy that they do this, but it’s not fair the second they enter for them to wreak havoc. All this might seem small right now, but they did have two years to fix and or patch that out. It also just stacks with the other problems.
I feel like the way the developers made the game is flawed, and makes it only above average. These hold the game back, and I don’t know how many updates or fixes will change this.
The game in its core function, which is probably my favorite part of the game and for different reasons, is bad. It feels too much like a city builder game than a survival game. Sure you need food and water/other things needed to survive, but the game feels more like Cities Skylines ( a great game btw) with survival mechanics. In my opinion, that feels very awkward and doesn't fit the genre they are going for. I have to focus too much on space and building, managing buildings, micro this resource, etc. Maybe if they designed the game differently, this wouldn't be a problem. The only reason I like the game is that I love Cities Skylines. Making buildings and a good colony is fun at first, but gets old quickly. I can see why someone not a fan of this type of game wouldn’t play for very long, though I still had a bit of fun with it.
Some simple design issues are probably easy to fix but weren’t. Like it can be hard to notice important events like bandits at your front gate or a quest because the alerts are very subtle. I wish I could see how and why resources are being produced, and what is taking them for consumption. Telling me that I lose more than I gain of wood doesn’t tell me where my wood goes. Maybe I don’t need x item from wood and shouldn’t produce it.
Combat in the colony is bad and very bland, along with the world map combat. When you fight in the colony, bandits usually have to break down the gate unless you have guard towers behind the gate (I found this out mid-playthrough). Otherwise, people posted at the main gate do nothing to stop bandits from breaking in and coming through. Your specialists are your only good defense. They automatically have guns, and you can control them, unlike colonists. There is no strategy to colony combat, it's “stand in a line and hope your specialists shoot the bandits to death”. Which they usually do, but you can't put them behind cover or anything. I feel like Rim World does colony combat better this way, as you can make custom defenses in that game and put people behind cover to shoot at invaders, and it’s a good comparison because Rim World is also a colony management game. The open-world map combat is also very bland. In combat, you walk to a bandit camp and wait a day. By the end of the day, you will both damage each other. There’s no real threat to clearing bandit camps as you always have more health and damage than them. I don’t know if you can go to war with other factions which you probably can, but I don't feel like doing that, and starting another colony will get old which is another thing you can do.
The last thing I feel like is a missed opportunity and would be impossible to add is multiplayer. The design doesn't really allow for it, but it could have been fun to play with friends. Attacking each other could make for some funny moments and difficult times. It's similar to the way playing Stellaris/Crusader Kings 2 or 3 is fun with friends.
I feel like the game has a base level of enjoyable mechanics. It’s entertaining for a while but then you start to think, is this it? It gets a bit tedious after a while, and the small parts that are enjoyable aren’t anymore. If you really like these games it’s a 7/10. For me, it's just an above-average game. Not only that but the AI and combat are very bland. If you don’t think you would like this game, then I wouldn’t recommend buying it. If you think you can forgive it for these reasons and still enjoy the game, it could be for you. But for me, it isn’t quite a 7 so personally, I will give it a 6-6.5/10.