For years we’ve been building civilisations in large cities, tropical islands and fantasy worlds, however while we’re constantly told over-population is going to mean colonising another planet, there’s nothing on home consoles allowing you to build a new civilisation on a distant planet, until now.
Aven Colony is the forthcoming release by developer Mothership under Team 17’s publishing label where you’re tasked with colonising the planet ‘Aven Prime’ lightyears away from Earth.
City building isn’t a genre we see much of on the Xbox One, but fans of similar titles have been enjoying the building sim for many years dating back to the first real great ‘Sim City’. It’s safe to say that Aven Colony bares a fair few resemblances to EA’s behemoth city builder but it also feels similar in control to a real time strategy game.
I’ve had my hands on Aven Colony for a week, concentrating on the first four missions covering two short but informative holo-sim training levels and the first two of 9 areas across Aven Prime.
The first, Vanaar is Aven Prime’s Earth like beginnings, it’s a welcome introduction to the game and doesn’t test your resolve too much, with plenty of food, mining locations and space to expand your colony to house hundreds of citizens. This first area will probably take an hour or two to get through, by this time you’ll be fluent with the control wheels and expanding your base before heading onto Sandy Gulch which like most later levels will make life difficult by limiting one or more resources.
It’s a familiar pattern seen in city builders, games wouldn’t be much fun if you didn’t have anything new to explore, but it’s great to see the challenge evolves steadily without leaving you stuck wondering what to do, partly in thanks to the great control scheme.
For the last few decades, one things I’ve heard time and time again is how Strategy and Sim games are better on PC, mostly because of the mouse and keyboard controls, but Aven Colony manages to incorporate the control scheme onto a pad with ease.
Moving the camera is tied to the analogue sticks, with zooming possible using the left and right bumpers. The A and B buttons are your standard ‘select’ and ‘back’ controls, with Right trigger bringing up an easy-to-use building wheel where you can simply select whatever structure set, and building you wish to place.
Building is mostly split between Nanites which are you in game currency, and energy. You’ll need enough energy for a building to function otherwise the base will automatically turn off certain areas if energy drops too low, there’s also Food, Water and Oxygen to keep an eye on, but you’ll soon get to grips with balancing the needs of your civilians and the notifications panel (Y) do a great job of keeping you up to date with the needs of your colony.
Mothership have certainly ticked the right boxes in both control, content and accessibility, although Graphically I wasn’t quite as impressed, this is only currently a preview build, so that could change before release at the end of July, and while textures aren’t as sharp as I’d like to see on today’s super powerful home consoles, everything still moves along smoothly even when I had dozens and dozens of buildings in view with events going off around them.
Audio seems pretty good so far, there’s background music which seems well suited without distracting from the environmental sounds or the chit-chat of the people around your base.
Aven Colony is shaping up to be a very interesting title, a unique stance on a genre we don’t see enough of, there’s plenty to be getting excited about, It’s accessible, addictive and intriguing.
Releasing on the 25th July, it already looks like a must-have for city building fans, but the sci-fi setting could make this one of the most unique and enjoyable titles in the genre.