Against The Storm

posted by Jeff | Sunday, January 7, 2024, 7:39 PM | comments: 0

I've mentioned it a bunch of times, but I've been playing this game called Against The Storm. It's kind of a combination of city builder and management game. There's no fighting, but the story is that you go out into the world and establish these settlements, where the weather is mostly terrible, and every few years, the storm wipes everything off of the map and you have to start over. But by closing these ancient "seals," you can extend the cycle to be longer. Each game tends to take between an hour and two.

It's been a little crack-like for me. I'm not sure I completely understand the appeal for me, so it's certainly difficult to explain why someone else might like it. All I can really say is that it requires my brain to be fully engaged, and I don't think much about anything going on in the real world. I mean that in the best way. It's disappointing when I lose, probably 1 in 8, but when I win, I often find myself wanting to keep going to establish another thing that makes the settlement work better. There's a complex relationship between everything going on.

The first thing is that you'll have three species of critters, and they have different needs to keep up their "resolve." If their resolve is too low, they leave. You can affect it by way of them having a place to live, give them jobs that they prefer, supplying the food that they prefer, or give them the services they prefer. The land itself provides different basic resources, depending on the map, and those can be used to make other materials, that in turn can be used for services or other outcomes. All the while, you need to make sure you have fuel to keep the fire burning, and food so no one starves. You can trade goods with merchants who periodically drop by, and sell some of your stuff to folks from other towns in exchange for amber, which is used for currency.

You win if you get the required number of reputation points before the queen's impatience points fill up. Getting yours reduced hers. They come from a bunch of different things, including her orders, completing certain tasks that you find as you keep cutting down trees and exploring, trading certain thresholds with other town, and from your residents having high resolve. The orders can be simple, like produce 20 herbs, build a certain kind of building or complete 3 tasks.

Eventually you might get to a place on the map with one of the seals, and it will throw three different thresholds, like the orders, and when you reach one of them, you're one-fourth the way to closing the seal, and you get three more conditions. Having the full reputation doesn't matter, you just have to beat the queen's impatience.

The problem is that you don't get everything up front. The land may lack certain resources, or you might not have the right kind of "camp" to mine those resources. The same is true for the buildings, where you might need to produce jerky (the lizards love it), but you don't have any easy way to get the meat required to make it. And you start out with none of the service buildings, like a market that provides "treatment," requiring tea, and "luxury" which requires wine. And of course, the three species don't need all of the same things. I rarely get to the point of service buildings, which is a bummer, because it drives resolve very high, which generates "free" reputation points over time.

The challenge then, which I haven't entirely figured out, is to assess early what the right combination of things is based on the species you have and what the land can provide. Every few reputation points, you have to choose one of four buildings to enable, so you have to decide based on what they produce. You also get modifiers once a year that can do different things, like every settler arrives with a pack of provisions, or +3 grain every minute.

And on top of all of that, there are other things that change how everything behaves. There are three seasons, the worst of which tends to tank the critters' resolve. You can use different kinds of rains to power engines in your buildings that boost production and resolve of the workers. But doing that causes these cysts to appear that you have to burn off in the storm with stuff from yet another building.

So basically, you're juggling shit non-stop. You have to pay attention to it all. As you unlock more and more stuff, the complexity increases, but you also get more things to counteract the bad stuff. When you just start out, for example, you don't have all of the species-specific kind of houses, but eventually you'll start with all of them, and don't need to choose them as they're offered.

I'm digging it. The game is murder on my Mac's battery, because it's a Windows game (running via Wine and Apple's game porting kit), so it has to translate everything to something the Mac understands. The game runs on the Unity engine, so I imagine they could port it, but they haven't as of yet. But maybe this is good, because if I have to charge the battery, it usually means walking away from it for awhile and talking to my family.


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