I was browsing Steam when I found I found this game in my recommended section and found it only sale on the Humble Store so I quickly bought it and jumped right in, at time of writing I have played it for 5 hours and I really like it.
It’s a city building management game about establishing an outpost on a remote planet, you have a group of space settlers in a ship with some resources and your job is to grow set up and grow your base, getting the necessary materials you need to survive in this uncharted world. The description to me seemed very much like Banished in space and that is pretty much exactly what it is and I can’t describe how happy I am about that.
You start with more than enough materials to get your base up and running, the tutorial is reasonably thorough in helping you get the basics but it might take a little longer to really get how it flows, you need to build a number of things straight away to survive which is why you get more materials than you might do in other games: an airlock to get your settlers into the base, oxygen tank, dorm (sleeping), canteen, bio-dome (grow food/resources), wind-turbines and solar panels for power (plus extra storage), water extractor and then after that you can look at what is next which means building up your base, getting more materials from things like mining and trading before you can then start producing your own equipment to promote stronger growth.
Where I thought Planetbase fell down against something like Banished is letting me have all the information I need to monitor the base on the screen at all times, there are a bunch of stats and information that are hidden behind menus and then also a toggle box in the top right hand corner that details other specifics such as wind strength (for wind-turbines), the size of your colony which interchanges with a list of the resources you have to hand and it would be better if I could choose to have all of this on-screen at once, but as this is about the only criticism I have of the game I feel like it’s doing pretty well.
It’s certainly challenging which is what I like from city building games, once you have all of your basics up and running you don’t really get a chance to stop and watch it operate because you need to look towards what is next and make sure you have either the buildings to produce more equipment or other resources which can then be used to buy what you need.
Your space settlers are defined by their roles which cannot be changed: worker (mining and operating machinery), engineer (builds and repairs structures/bot and operate components to produce other items), biologist (grows and maintains resources), medic (produces medical supplies and heals other colonists) and guards (fight intruders and protects the base), these are supplemented by bots which automatically fulfil their roles such as drilling in the mine, contracting and repairing buildings and moving resources around. The lack of flexibility with each person isn’t a problem for me, it adds to the management aspect because you can’t turn a worker into a biologist, if you need more you can build a landing pad and choose what percentage of the people who arrive fulfil a certain job role.
The two biggest issues you face are having enough food and power, the former is harder to do as growing vegetables or vitromeat takes time and power is the sort of thing that is a huge problem when you run out and can’t run your base without but these aren’t the only two key points. Building resources are mainly composed of bioplastic (produced through starch from food then made using a processor) and metal which is produced from ore in a processor as well, without a driller bot ore is quite slow to mine and this really puts a strain on your colony in the beginning as it’s the only material needed to produce metal which is vitally important to building structures.
Theres a wealth of options for each room such as labs where you can grow vitromeat and producing medical supplies, canteens not only make and serve food and water but you can also put TVs and plants in them to help with moral, the various factories and plants have different options to help you produce different things as well and it’s quite a deep game which a lot of thought required to get it right and much like Banished if you don’t pay attention to a particular problem because it gets worse your people are probably already dead.
In total there are three planets with increased difficulty, to unlock the other two planets you need to complete a set of “milestones” such as total population and other targets focused on building up your base, the extra difficulties are nice for an added challenge however right now I’m perfectly comfortable trying to grind my way through the game on the starter planet!
I enjoy the challenge and grind a lot, thinking about what is important and making sure I use my limited resources effectively, as your base grows larger you get prestige points which later will enable you to attract “tourists” and intruders which want to harm your base and this will add a nice layer of difficulty the game which I think will be necessary to keep it challenging and enjoyable. The problem I have with these sandbox games is that once you get to a certain point it feels like you’re just going through the motions but with new planets and other features that take time to build towards I think there is a really good game here that will last a long time and be very enjoyable.
So far I think Planetbase is really enjoyable and I’m having a lot of fun with it, there are some issues with the UI and hiding stats I would like to see which perhaps the developer will be able to work on but I like what I’ve played and as I get better I look forward to getting past the early grind and pushing on to make bigger and better bases.
If you’re a fan of this type of game I think you’ll find it very enjoyable and it’s definitely worth looking into.