Aven Colony is a society-em-up where you get to kick off life in a far flung part of the solar system. You’re assigned to a planet that is “almost exactly like earth” but with “no signs of intelligent life” (so exactly like earth, then). Due for release at the end of July, we were sent a preview version of the final game to see how Mothership Entertainment’s latest title was shaping up.
As you may expect, a couple of training levels ease you into the game, which is quite good really considering you’re tasked with continuing the human race. I mean, you don’t want to launch into that sort of thing without knowing what you’re doing. From the off, much of Aven Colony seems instantly familiar; you know what you’re getting here, and 90% of it is selecting a bit of ground and building something on it. Indeed, having played this preview version I’m not sure what Aven Colony is bringing to the table here that hasn’t been done before. That said, we’ll be certain to bring your our opinions on the whole dome-building adventure when it’s released fully.
As an important commander-type, you take on the role of setting up new colonies for settlers, which includes building farms, power sources, residential premises and the like to keep your travel-weary folks happy. There’s a deep level of detail here too, with twelve (!) menus to keep things ticking over and monitor you intergalactic house-movers. Things have been updated nicely from the PC beta launched last year to suit it’s new home on consoles. The HUD is navigated using the D-Pad, and options for building new… buildings… are presented on a selection wheel, such as the type seen in many a Bethesda shooter, a la Doom or Prey. I found this a little fiddly to use accurately with the PS4 analogue sticks, but usable.
Your aim is to forever generate more resources to build more stuff, because of course it is. Rather than racking up cash, you accrue Nanites which you can pool to contribute to expanding your colony. You’re given goals to hit but these aren’t essential, more useful guidelines in case you’re overwhelmed and struggling to focus on what to do next. As your colony increases in area, more people join you and your population levels go up until you’ve reached the threshold to get to the next level.
Such directives and other messages come from a disappointingly static cast of colleagues. Indeed, the lack of movement and personality in these makes things feel a little dated and uninvolving. I would certainly liked to have seen more time spent on making a believable world through some decent characters.
At odds with many games of late, it’s nice to see the future presented as a bright, healthy and vaguely Avatar-esque place rather than a dystopian nightmare, although this could be because you’re not on earth. Who knows what earth is like during all of this? Terrible, I assume, the way things are going. Maps range from jungle desert and the night brings a harsh frost, and you graduate from smaller zones to larger sandbox zones.
Aside from the alien setting, it’s hard to identify at this point what will truly set Aven Colony apart from other notable Sim City-a-likes, particularly the mighty Civ VI. Either way, we’re looking forward to finding out when we dive further in for our review later this month.
Aven Colony is released on 25th July.