Editor’s Note: Whoops… So. This was supposed to go live, like, two weeks ago. Due to my hectic day-life, I’d saved this short preview as a draft after writing it up in a hotel room with crap Wi-Fi at 3am. I thought I hit publish… I didn’t. Better late than never, right?
I do love me a good sim game. You might not know it to look at me, but I spent a lot of time playing The Sims when I was younger, thinner, and happier with my life.
Traditionally, city-building sims and real-time strategy games have been confined to the PC where players can enjoy the ease of using a mouse to play. You’ll know how frustrating the translation of PC controls to consoles can be if you’ve ever tried playing Command & Conquer on the PS One, or the Championship Manager games on the PS2. They’re awful, basically, and it’s the main reason that such games don’t really find themselves on home consoles these days, though there are some notable exceptions.
Team 17 and Mothership Entertainment are hoping to win the minds and hearts of console gamers with Aven Colony, which is due to release this July 25th on PS4 and other platforms.
Aven Colony isn’t, as some have commented online, just “SimCity in space.” No, that’s a daft thing to say, and even I, the daftest of the daft, wouldn’t be so, er, daft to say it. Aven Colony is more about getting your shit together and making sure it stays together. You’ve got to build your colony slowly, gather your resources, stockpile, manage, and then have a mooch around to see what’s going on further afield.
There’s no worrying about traffic jams, pollution from cars, or the risk of a riot in the city centre. Like I said, it ain’t SimCity.
I was a little apprehensive going into Aven Colony on PS4. Why? Well, like I mentioned earlier, controls for such games can be a royal pain the arse, not to mention over complicated menus that need a cryptologist to decipher. Thank the maker – Mothership Entertainment in this case – that my fears were soon put to rest. After a couple of minutes going through the basics with the handy tutorial, I was flicking through the wheel-menu (think Battlefield 1 commands) with ease. I had a few tunnels on the go, some drones were knocking about doing their work, and I was sat on my couch, DualShock 4 in hand, enjoying a strategy game on a home console. Weird world, yeah?
After a few hours of playing Aven Colony, I’ve had a total of three colonies that ranged from “pretty good” to “oh, crap, everyone’s gonna die.” I was surprised at how well the controls worked with a DualShock 4 controller in hand, but they did. I was surprised at the amount of depth on offer for what’s sure to be an under-the-radar release, but it had it.
What sets Aven Colony apart from other games of its family is the focus on survival rather than building a well-oiled machine of a city. You need to be constantly mining for nanite, the game’s ore that you need to process to keep your colony running. It’s not complicated to the point of being difficult to grasp, but it’s also not so simple that it feels like the developers take you for a dummy. From what I’ve played of Aven Colony, I’ve seen a nice balance between economics, survival, and shitting the bed when nature takes a dump all over me. Like, seriously, how can man even defend against thunder and lighting? Jeff away, lad.
I’ve only played around four hours of Aven Colony to be honest, though that’s kind of the point with a preview, but from what I’ve seen so far, I’m impressed. It’s not often that I get to be wrong in this job, but I’m sincerely hoping that Aven Colony makes me look like a massive fool.
Will you be taking to the stars with Aven Colony later this month? Let us know down in the comments section below.
Preview Disclaimer: This preview was carried out using a digital code provided by the publisher.
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Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella. (Bronze trophies, that is – he only has one Platinum.)