Friday, December 23, 2022
Against the Storm
I am normally not the world's biggest fan of roguelike/roguelite games; I find the large loss of progress at the end of each individual run in exchange for a small permanent boost to future runs annoying. However, it turns out that this dislike is mostly about the more typical roguelike games, where you play a character battling monsters. In Against the Storm each individual run is the construction of a settlement. In that case the reset works a lot better: Settlement builders otherwise have a tendency to get complicated when the settlement becomes very big. And a reset allows for the next settlement to deal with a different environment, with different resources, so there is very good replayability.
Technically, Against the Storm is still in Early Access. But that mostly means that there is an update every two weeks. The game doesn't feel incomplete, and I didn't encounter any bugs. In fact, Against the Storm seems to have fewer bugs than some of the released triple-A games this year. The interaction between the developers and the community is great: Every update comes with a changelog that indicates how many of the changes were suggested by the community, and that is the majority of them. Against the Storm is normally €20 on Steam or Epic, but during the current Winter Sale it is €16. For that money you get a really excellent game, so I didn't even bother to look for key reseller prices.
What I really liked about Against the Storm is that for each run you can choose the difficulty, the biome, and some bonuses. If you are in the mood for a casual, easier game, you can do that. If you want a harder challenge, that is also possible, and it gives you more rewards on the permanent upgrade tech tree. If the highest of 4 difficulty settings isn't hard enough for you, there are 20 prestige difficulty levels beyond that, which unlock by you winning on the previous one. I tend to play city builders more for the casual fun than the challenge, so I am mostly playing on the second difficulty level. The difficulty levels add challenge by accelerating the "impatience" timer, and increasing the "hostility" of the forest. Every run ends if either you collected enough reputation points to win, or the queen's patience run out. You gain reputation points by fulfilling "orders", aka quests, or by increasing the resolve of your population, by fulfilling their needs. There are also events that give reputation points.
In every run, you start on a glade, and you need to chop trees to reach others glades and increase the area on which you can build. Smaller glades you open contain resources. Larger glades can be "dangerous" or "forbidden", which means that you need to deal with an event once you open that glade. Because you don't know what resources you will find on the starting glade and beyond, you can't just build a cookie cutter standard settlement each time. Often some resources aren't available at all, and you need to get them via trading. That keeps successive runs interesting.
Against the Storm has an overwhelmingly positive user review score on Steam, with 96% of reviews being positive. I can only add my recommendation to that. If you like city/settlement/colony builder games in general and want to try something a bit different, this is a fantastic game.