Frostpunk is a single-player, city-building survival video game developed and published by Warsaw-based 11bit studios. The game was released for Microsoft Windows in April 2018, and it was made available on PS4 and Xbox One in October 2019.
Ever since its first release, Frostpunk has received plenty of commercial success, selling more than 1.4 million copies just within a year. On top of this, critics and gamers alike have given the game generally positive reviews and ratings.
Plot and setting
Frostpunk is set in an alternate reality version of the year 1886, where the volcanic eruptions of Krakatoa and Mount Tambora, along with the dimming of the Sun and other various unknown factors, resulted in a worldwide winter. This ultimately led to widespread crop failure, famine, and millions of lives lost as a result. The events of the game can be compared to the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, which resulted in global cooling.
Several “generators” were built in the coal-rich North as a way to combat the harsh winter by British authorities. These were designed to be city centers in case mass migration occurred due to rapidly dropping temperatures.
The initial launch of the game came with three scenarios, and each of these scenarios has different storylines and backgrounds. Later, two more scenarios were added to the game as downloadable contents or DLCs. One of these was available for free, while the other scenarios were part of the Season Pass.
In a later patch, Endless Mode was also added. In this mode, narrative elements were tossed aside, thus allowing the player to focus solely on survival, all the while weathering storms in the global winter.
In all the scenarios, the played character, who is referred to as the “Captain” by the denizens of the city, is the leader of a city in the North, where the generators were built. The Captain’s task is to manage the available resources of the city and ensure that the people survive.
The following are the scenarios and downloadable contents (DLCs) available in Frostpunk:
- A New Home (main scenario)
- The Arks (second scenario)
- The Refugees (third scenario)
- The Fall of Winterhome (DLC released on September 2019)
- Endless Mode
- The Rifts (DLC released on August 2019)
- The Last Autumn (DLC released on January 2020)
First, the Captain starts with a small group of survivors. These people consist of children, workers, and engineers, and they also have several supplies they can use to build a city. You can harvest essential supplies such as food, coal, wood, and steel to make sure that your community survives and the constantly fluctuating temperatures. This isn’t as simple as it sounds, and there are several challenges and obstacles you have to tackle. For instance, political unrest and extreme weather conditions may cause the citizens of your city not to want to work as hard.
You can control the productivity levels of your society by regulating the laws. But this will likely result in discontent among the people. For example, you have the power to implement laws that allow child labor or put mandatory 24-hour work shifts in place, both of which won’t sit well with the citizens. However, you can also implement laws that would be welcomed by the people, such as developing better healthcare or providing extra rations to the sick.
In most scenarios in Frostpunk, you have the ability to gain more of the citizens’ support with two options – Order or Faith. Order includes buildings and laws that enforce safety and security, while Faith caters to buildings and laws that implement religion.
By building a workshop structure, you can research technology and buildings that can improve the productivity and efficiency of the city, and ultimately, the well-being of the citizens. You can also use the workshop’s structure for scouting the wasteland that surrounds the society- you can look for survivors and additional resources.
Like many other colony simulation games, a majority of the early game in Frostpunk is spent searching for essential resources such as coal, wood, steel, and food. An interesting element is the concept of a formalized workday, where the workers spend time toiling in the fields, but also have time to rest at home at night, and they can even improve their shelters when they are done working for the day.
The workforce has a unique flexibility thanks to their downtime, which is uncommon among other colony simulation games. Eventually, the mechanics of the game turn towards totalitarianism because there simply is no other way for the society to survive. The elastic and flexibility of Frostpunk, while still being highly robust, is what makes the game stand out.