Surviving the Aftermath is a colony management game set during the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that turned the world into a radioactive wasteland. It’s made by the Finnish developers Iceflake Studios and published by Paradox Interactive. Imagine building a fishing hut in any other similar game to this, but now add rusty sheets of metal, a plastic tarp, and other apocalyptic flavor items to the building, and you got Surviving the Aftermath!
Joking aside, the game plays into the apocalyptic aftermath pretty well, even if it feels like a texture/setting switch from the usual stuff at times. Luckily, Surviving the Aftermath have a little more to it than just a visual swap. There isn’t much of a story here besides having the world going down the drain. It’s presented competently with a CGI intro that sets the mood. And from here on you start your apocalyptic colony life with a tiny settlement with just a few survivors and a couple of specialists.
The specialists are special “hero” like characters that you can use both in your colony and the world map. In the colony they can help out with fighting weird mutated creatures, or collecting stuff, like wood, and berries, taking some pressure off your apocalyptic citizens. But where the specialists shine is on the world map, here you can send these characters to scavenge stuff, and explore areas shrouded by the fog of war. They are also used for finding “research points”, and killing off bandits in the world, and sometimes these things are related to quests. The specialists don’t come cheap, and are pretty rare, at least at the beginning of the game, so you got to take care of them because without them, your colony will have a pretty rough time!
Otherwise, your colony has a lot of different needs to be fulfilled, and a lot of stuff to avoid – like radioactive areas that will make your citizens sick. What is cool with the citizens is that they are all individuals, with personal stats, likes, faults, and required needs. If they don’t get what they crave, they might just up and leave – and like specialists (but not as bad) more people are not that easy to come by. I think it plays out as an interesting dynamic throughout the game, keeping the balance between survivability, and maintaining a need to expand, building more factories and services for example. I can say with experience that it’s very easy to over-expand, and doing so can easily lead your colony to some kind of disaster – like famine, or not having enough wood to keep warmth during a blizzard.
My colony suffered a few disasters, and a couple of dead specialists – incidents that left the colony in mourning, and what I liked about this, besides gritting through the tension, is the fact that stuff like this is survivable. It makes the game interesting, and it gives your little town a history. Remember the great flu on day 26 that killed 20 towners? Stuff like that.
Building up your colony is pretty much a standard affair. You start gathering simple resources, which later on get more and more advanced, with longer and longer production chains. And what you can’t find or produce, you can always scavenge or trade for on the world map. One thing I must say that I really liked in the game is the road system. You are free to build buildings however you want, they don’t have to be connected to a road in any way. But if you build roads, and connect buildings to them, your citizens will actually use these roads dynamically. It’s great fun to see your people use the most optimized roads you built, and not being restricted to only building next to a road is a blessing. That also means you can have that hermit-style hunter in the forest with no road connection at all if you want to.
Visually the game looks pretty good, it sure got that apocalyptic taste to it with shanty towns made of tarp and a landscape with radioactive pits of doom scattered all over. There are also a lot of animations to look at, which makes bigger towns truly come alive. There is plenty of movement with people walking, doing a different kinds of jobs, and fighting mutated creatures. While it’s satisfactory, it’s not on the same level as some older games in the genre, like Settlers or the Anno series, but what is there is good enough, and enhances the general game experience. I do wish there was a bit more independence for the citizens in their movement, as they feel a bit robotic in satisfying their needs. At least, that is the impression I get, but it’s a minor “immersion” issue.
The sound is great and seems to be dynamically altered depending on how big your town is. My “downtown” area sure sounds a lot livelier now than it did in the beginning. It got all the sound effects expected to come from a colony builder, and seemingly every building and act seem to have a corresponding sound effect – nothing feels left out! Music is of the same level, while the default radio station has more appropriate somber apocalypse music, the other stations got superb relaxing tunes to take you through the aftermath. I can’t complain when it comes to sound, and music, top-notch stuff here, even the rare narrator that pops in now and then is excellent.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable colony builder with a good progression design. It’s not one of the best ones I have played, but in the sea of mediocre games, especially in this genre, it does stand out. As of writing this review, there has been an expansion released for Surviving the Aftermath named New Alliances. I have not played it, but from what I understand the focus of the DLC is trade, making the world map more interactive, and other communities to interact with in the wasteland.
Thanks for reading.
PS. Thanks to my buddy Kide for gifting me the game!