Aven Colony sets out to do what only a handful of city building games have tried, build and create your own city – but on other planets. By taking the standard tropes of many city building games such as resource management and population moral, but in a different type of environment it aims to shake up how a city sim is done, as earth bound laws don’t apply here.
In Aven Colony you play the role of the governor, and are tasked with running several colonies on a new planet ‘Aven Prime’. As expected the game follows the rules of many other city builders. You have to keep your populations happy by supplying them with the base needs of food, water and power, which can be supplied with farms, water pump sand solar arrays. As your colony grows, the needs rise and must fulfill the needs of the people. It’s the standard rules but whereas most games give you the standard ‘is your population happy’, this game throws a few extra requirements in.
Your population has morale, purpose and freedom amongst others traits and if down, your colonies happiness starts to fall. These types of things can be raised by creating jobs in the various resource buildings or creating leisure to keep them happy. On the contrary though you can choose to enforce harsh policies on your people such as martial law and rationing which as a whole would help the resources of the colony, but on a social level would upset your people greatly. It’s a great mechanic that adds more depth to the game. The problem I found however is it was very easy to keep colonists happy. Doing things like martial law would only be needed in dire times, times which I never found myself in.
The areas which have been expanded on don’t just stop there. Many types of food can be grown within the colony and a variety of food keeps colonists happy. You can grow human food which can be eaten as is, or alien type crops that can be processed later on using mills or chemical plants into other foods for your people. Different foods and products can also be traded at trade centers to other colonies which gains you rewards and resources not available in your map.
There is a story and its presented in voice chat style convos between the other members of the colony at various moments in the missions. It doesn’t really add anything to the game though and while I give them credit for trying, it’s really hard to get excited about a story on a city sim game, no matter how in depth they make it, I’m just not really paying attention to it. I’m here to build a city, not discover the ancient secrets.
A problem I found early on with this game however is how much it throws at you. There’s quite a bit to get used to as the game starts with population morale, food management, resource management and figuring out what what the menu screens do and it’s all a bit daunting. I did get used to it but it’s one of those games that adds a bit much at the start and slightly put me off.
City building is done via drones, which live within a drone center on your colony, however they only have a certain reach, so once your colony is built out far enough, you need to build another. This get’s quite annoying when you need to reach a new resource that’s just out of reach. Drones build all the required buildings from residential places, to jobs to power plants and defense. Defense may sound interesting but it really isn’t. The games ‘threat’ is these spores that fly in time to time and infect your buildings, if they manage to you need to build a hospital and a drone scrub unit who can clean it up. It’s hardly a threat in the game and only feels like it’s there to add some ‘oh no! spore attack!’ to the game.
All buildings need to be connected with tunnels so colonists can walk to their job, but the way this is done is my major problem with this game. There is no creativity when building a colony. It feels unfair to compare this game to other city builders like Cities Skylines, but there is no variety to how you build your city. Cities skylines allows you to do so much with what your given and how your people get from one place to the other and that’s all part of the fun. Building tunnels and bridges and different kind of neighborhoods with their different styles and policies adds a great freedom to what you want to do. Aven Colony doesn’t do this as you’re stuck with tunnels and there’s no terraforming available.
The flat landscape and the same couple of buildings every now and then. It really put a downer on the game when I realized this as it’s actually a pretty fun game, seeing how your colony grows, but the total lack of creativity really leaves a lot to be desired. So much that when I did realize this, it reminded me of a basic flash game I played a few years ago.
Does it make it a bad game? No, and I feel I may be giving the game too much stick as I like a lot of what it does. What’s more this is from an indie developer and has nowhere near the same budget as other games like Cities Skylines, Anno, SimCity or Civilization so maybe I am expecting a lot more. The resource management and population management are key features for me. Being able to impose various policies to improve certain areas gives a great sense of control over what happens in the colony. It’s just the lack of creativity in the colony that’s missing.
A PlayStation 4 review code was provided by Team 17