Developer: Mothership Entertainment LLC
Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd
Reviewed on: PC
After playing Aven Colony, I came away very optimistic about humanity’s chances of successfully colonizing other worlds. If it’s really as easy as Aven Colony makes it out to be, we’ll have no issue spreading across the galaxy. Truth be told, Aven Colony may make the process of colonization too easy. Once I had a general understanding of the key mechanics and resources that must to be prioritized, the race to the finish line was simply a matter of persistence.
The game is broken up into a campaign and “sandbox” mode that essentially let’s you customize the parameters of the campaign missions. There are only 11 missions, and two of them are tutorials. Each mission requires you to build a sustainable colony in various environmental conditions. There’s a very hospitable zone full of lush, green grassland and a cold, wintery zone that makes growing food much more difficult. While the different climates are supposed to make for varying play styles, their impact on the flow of a game is quite minimal. I found that there’s really only a few ways to go about accomplishing the goals in each mission. You also get a constant supply of quests that basically guide you through the entire mission, making it incredibly easy to claim victory.
As a city builder, the primary goal is to keep your inhabitants happy. You do this by providing them with an adequate supply of food, water, living space, jobs, and recreation. Most of the info you need to see how your colony is doing is easily accessible. There are a few items (like air quality) that are buried deep within menus, but for the most part the UI is well put together. Much like the rest of the goals, however, keeping your people happy is pretty easy. Are they thirsty? Build more water pumps. Are they bored? Build a theater. After you’ve gone through the process a few times, it turns into a lot of low-stakes busy work to keep a smile on everyone’s face.
Everyone should be happy anyway when they look outside and see how beautiful the world is. Aven Colony certainly captures that “wild beauty” aesthetic by taking environments familiar to us, and just slightly tweaking them. For instance, you’ll see green, rolling hills with bizarre rock spires reaching into the sky off in the distance. Everything looks good and maintains a good level detail even when zoomed in. You can even watch each of your colonists walk through your colony’s tunnels if you want. One small issue I had was when the colony got cluttered and spread out. It became difficult to find specific buildings you may be looking to upgrade amidst a dense cluster of similar looking structures.
I played Aven Colony on a PC for this review (specs at the bottom) and had no performance issues or bugs. The game is also releasing on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which makes it one of just a few real time strategy games that have made the jump to a gamepad. Oddly enough, the PC version does not support the use a gamepad at this time, so I was not able to test how well it plays with one. However, based on my experience navigating the UI and considering the slow-paced nature of the game, I can see how it could adapt well to a gamepad.
Aven Colony’s biggest problem is it’s simplicity. I never once felt challenged while playing the game. It has solid mechanics, looks great, and really doesn’t do anything wrong. However, with such a short campaign and missions that, for the most part, all feel very similar to each other, it’s hard to say whether or not you will get much satisfaction out of it, especially if you are a city sim veteran. On the other hand, there are very few games like this on consoles right now, so perhaps if you’re a console player itching for some real time strategy Aven Colony just might land for you.
Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Intel Core i7-4790K 4.0GHz
GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB VRAM
Samsung EVO 850 SSD
Aven Colony is decent city builder with a great UI and pretty environments. Unfortunately, it's a rather shallow experience that doesn't last very long.