A fusion of colony survival and city-builder, Aven Colony is an interesting sci-fi take on the genre. The final result is an engaging management game that, in spite of a few polishing issues along the way, is charming and fun to play.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 – Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on July 25th, 2017
It is easy to lose yourself in the world of Aven Colony and play for many hours. In my time with the game I have found myself addicted to experimenting with the many ways I can manage my colony. As a city-builder, I have found myself totally charmed by both the alien landscape and the solid foundation of systems underlying the simulation itself.
There is a sizeable campaign mode on offer in Aven Colony comprised of various missions. Over the lengthy story campaign, the narrative of the game is told in the form of audio conversations between characters during gameplay, with the occasional in-game event that offers contextual challenges.
By your command, Colony Governor
Aven Colony’s storytelling is standard sci-fi fare, dealing with the discovery of ancient technology while the player overcomes challenges that come from their activities as colony Governor. The use of a storyline was a pleasant surprise, but occasionally it can seem miss-paced. However, this did not detract from game enjoyment in any significant way.
The colony management aspects are interesting and well-built, if not particularly innovative by themselves. Typical gameplay tropes of a city-builder are here; managing citizens’ happiness, looking after the economy, and so on. This is fused with survival aspects such as air quality and food supplies. Interestingly, the player will also have to defend the colony from alien threats such as the Creep, an infection that can derail the colony if not pre-empted with the right defences. The balance is well-managed and it is easy to get absorbed into the different intricacies of managing Aven Colony.
Some frustrations may be had by rookies; colonists’ demands are ever-expanding, and the game can be quite punishing. Players can easily lose if they do not manage their resources tightly enough. Prepare to stay focused or learn some harsh lessons on colony management.
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City-builder on a console
Aven Colony runs well on PlayStation 4, with few framerate dips really only on larger colonies. The controls are surprisingly intuitive. Good use is made of the controller’s buttons and it is surprising how natural it feels to control the colony.
There are a couple of issues; controls can feel floaty and sensitive, but this is quickly forgotten. Other issues include the HUD; an ugly grey bar sticks out at the bottom of the screen. Playing a colony sim on a controller will never be quite as good as mouse and keyboard, but thankfully, Aven Colony is designed well enough that this never becomes a major issue. The gameplay result is an appealing city builder with lots of replayability.
The graphics are enjoyable; the textures are impressively high-res when the player is fully zoomed in. Many times I ogled the textures of in game objects up close. The world building is excellent; the geography and use of colour excellently makes the alien planet feel alive. One gripe is in the animation; it’s a shame that more polish couldn’t have gone into the way the colonists move around. Another issue is with the design of the buildings; although suitably high-tech and interesting, there is not enough visually to distinguish them from one another; it is easy to lose track of where certain buildings are placed.
There is sound in space..
The sound of the game is thematic and made to add to the game. It can occasionally be beautiful, but don’t expect to be completely blown away by the sound design. There is a lack of polish in how the colonists’ voices work with player proximity, but nothing that completely breaks immersion.
One shame in the game design itself is the lack of procedural generation; though the maps themselves are all suitably enjoyable and offers plenty of challenge and replayability, it would have been interesting to see how the different elements of Aven Prime would look in different configurations.
Aven Colony is an enjoyable colony survival sim. While it does not do anything ground-breaking on its own, the final result is a very enjoyable strategy game. Despite a few issues that come from the lack of polish, which is understandable considering its makers Mothership Entertainment comprise just four developers, Aven Colony is a charming colony sim that is more than worth playing, and I look forward to seeing what its developers will do in the future.