Times Digital Download: Frostpunk: The Last Autumn

Story Gautam Viswanathan

Picture this, if you will. A new Ice age has driven mankind to the verge of collapse. With the world experiencing sharply plummeting temperatures, the crops are the first to die out, and a massive food shortage leads to riots, and people turning on each other in a desperate, savage need to survive.

With this being the age of the Industrial Revolution, the powers of the world come together to finance and send expeditions to the Arctic, where mankind will wait out the storm, no matter how long it takes, so that the earth can be repopulated anew. However, while humanity waits to press the reset button on the world’s population, it will not be easy to wait out the cold, where temperatures could drop to as low as -120 degrees.

To provide warmth to people, and heat to homes, massive constructs of steel, called generators, are to be built. Fail to build these on time, however, and you’re banished from the generator site on a rowboat, destined to paddle your way across the freezing waters and back to whence you came from, or wherever it is that you deem fit to see out the end of your wretched life.

The biggest expansion to Frostpunk, last year’s sensational dystopian city-building game, The Last Autumn puts players in the months leading up to the global cataclysm, with players given a fixed amount of time in which to build this generator. Released only recently by 11 Bit Studios, Frostpunk: The Last Autumn is available to purchase and download on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

While the base game was designed to create a feeling of despair through the endlessness of the bleak, permanent winter, this game is all about desperation, because you only have a few short weeks in which to build this generator. The biggest difference in the Last Autumn is the colour of the ground: it’s green, and not white like in the base game, but you really don’t have a lot of time to stand around and appreciate your surroundings.

On your shoulders rest the fates of thousands back home in England and, as I found out pretty early on, showing warmth to your workers will not necessarily guarantee warmth once your time is up.

Frostpunk is, when boiled down to its essentials, a game that pits warmth against cold, and it is fair to use this comparison for the emotions you will need to show as well. Your objective is simple: the generator needs to get built. Anything that is not essential to this can be abandoned, even if for the time being. Building the generator requires you to construct certain specialised buildings that are not found in the original game, all of which provide the materials to build and operate this mammoth construct.

Pre-assigned slots have been created in The Last Autumn’s scenario, but make sure you don’t occupy all of them: your people do after all still need food to eat, and the sea provides ample opportunity to make the best of fishing docks. However, resource management is the key here, and is set up in such a way as to drill one thing home: work on the generator must NEVER stop.

As you watch the seconds painfully crawl by, each one of them a precious drop of time lost to the strikers, you realise that if the workers’ demands are constantly acceded to, there is no way your generator will be built on time. As much as you hate it, therefore, it’s time to employ some strikebreakers, groups of engineers who are not afraid to use to force to send people back to work, as well as set up some guard towers from which a constant watch can be kept on your workers.

Essentially, Frostpunk symbolises the constant battle between the forces of chaos and those of order. It is, in a way, a very sobering tale, with the game makers not afraid of showing people just what will happen if climate change goes unchecked: when we push the limits, nature fights back. [email protected]

The Down Low – What you need to know

Name: Frostpunk: The Last Autumn

Genre: Simulation/survival

Published by: 11 Bit Studios

What it’s about: Mankind is on the verge of entering a new Ice Age. Millions will die, but it’s up to you to ensure that at least a handful survive so that mankind can rebuild once it ends, no matter how long the wait may be.

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Where to buy: Steam Store, GOG.com, PlayStation Store, Xbox Marketplace, EA.com, Amazon.com, Microsoft Store

IGn Rating: 9/10