“Bad news travels fastest in small towns,” Stephen King once wrote. In Endzone: A World Apart, such bad news will most often be information that Henry fell ill with radiation sickness due to drinking a glass of radioactive water, little Mary starved to death during a prolonged drought, and someone even heard that old Jurgens went on a trip to distant ruins of a gas station and has not returned for many seasons. Probably some bullies shot the poor guy. Despite everything, life in the colony goes on somehow. Oh, it just started raining again.
If we entrust our future to game developers, they would prefer to describe it in dark colours. No wonder, after all, we are very eager to reach for this type of topic, trying to cleverly remedy possible problems or face danger. Hence the extraordinary popularity of all survival games. Well, when the sun shines cheerfully outside the window of our apartment, and the biggest worry is a failed session, overcoming virtual problems quickly restores life balance. The genre of city builders is also more and more willing to meet such needs – Endzone, reviewed here, is one of its more successful representatives. That doesn’t mean it’s a perfect game. It’s a pity.
Exit from the shelter
The story is painfully clunky. Some apocalypse destroyed the old world, but the survivors managed to hide in underground shelters. When it seemed that it was quite safe, it was decided to leave the musty corridors and start a new life in the shadow of a motorhome, which at the beginning of the game is a hub where resources are collected, and at the same time a base. It’s up to us to help the virtual men develop and expand the colony over the next generations. New children are born, old ones die, and the danger, instead of diminishing, only intensifies. The challenge is considerable. Although the game in the early access phase was willingly compared with Banished – another city builder with similar assumptions and the way of presenting the world (though without post-apocalypse) – in fact, it also draws from such classics as The Settlers series or Polish Frostpunk. In the beginning, not much happens, but it is enough to provide a source of food for a dozen or so people by building a fisherman’s hut, a hunter’s house and a bridge that allows the collection of fresh water in reservoirs. Adults beget children, and they grow up (thanks to the construction of the school, this happens faster), becoming a full-fledged part of the growing society. And so on. All this would have taken a normal course if not for the realities in which our charges had to live. The growing colony needs to be prepared for the conditions here, and they are getting worse. Radioactivity is increasing, from time to time there are dry periods or sandstorms, and when it does rain, it is usually in acid drops.
The pain of micromanagement
Time is very precious and it passes inexorably. This forces us to erect more and more specialized buildings constituting a system of connected vessels. Collecting scrap and turning it into three different resources requires constant focus. We need to know what we need all the time. A moment of inattention and the tailor has nothing to sew masks or protective suits. Without them, the dissatisfaction of the inhabitants increases, and then they die. Assigning tasks to settlers is a titanic job. Fortunately, it does not require direct contact with a virtual character, but you still have to deal with it anyway. When the colony has twenty or thirty inhabitants, this is not a problem. But when we have two hundred of them, we start to get lost in the meanders of micromanagement. You have to determine everything yourself, you can’t rely on the automation of tasks, because it simply doesn’t work. The best example here is sending settlers to log the forest or collecting scrap metal. You have to indicate to them in which area they are to operate, and when the raw material runs out – we do not receive notification of this fact – manually redirect them to another place.
Notifications and tutorial
The lack of meaningful notifications is a huge disadvantage of the game. Although information about one or another problem appears from time to time, the creators have not implemented the most prosaic messages about the completion of some construction, lack of an employee and the like, which would affect the comfort of the game. So in Endzon, you have to watch over everything personally. With a heavily developed colony, it becomes a pain in the ass and a sore tooth in one. A great tutorial helps you get the hang of it. The authors have done their best to make the player not feel alone in the maze of dependencies and they explain all aspects of the game in an almost perfect way. After completing the tutorial, you should feel like you’ve already beaten the game on easy difficulty once. The disadvantage of this solution is the time you have to spend on it. You can indeed speed up its passage several times, but it took me several hours to complete this mode and understand it fully. I don’t know – two, maybe three. Much like a tutorial. A great way to choose the difficulty level The choice of the complexity of the new game was also taken seriously.