Frostpunk: If Hans Zimmer and Christopher Nolan made a strategy game

4 out of 5 stars

You will hit a moment in this game where you realize: there’s no way back. Like a steam engine barreling down the track you will see the haze of the bridge you are about to go off in the distance and there is only one choice: dial back and play conservatively or stoke the engines and dive full speed into your fiery doom. I hope you choose the latter.

Frostpunk is a game that puts you into these situations. It takes something simple and beautiful and it ratchets it up, tighter, faster, harder, leaner, colder. Comparisons to Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer to me feel apt because I have never played a game with such a good score. Finishing the game felt like watching Interstellar for the first time. The main musical theme weaves in and out beautifully the whole game but in the final 3 hours of the game (the true pay off in my opinion) — the difficulty will be ratched up to an insane difficulty, you will have to make hard decisions, all the while this beautiful, horrible, epic musical theme pushes you on.

There’s something about the billowing of black smoke over your city, the fiery furnances, the people huddled together around your choice of controlling them (religion or military power). The dying, the freezing, the amputating. My only wish is that I could jump down to the ground level and experience it on the street. But this is an indie game and that’s kind of an impossible request.

If I had to pick one critique of this game it’s that it doesn’t have the depth of a Civilization or other grand strategy game…. But that’s not what frostpunk is going for. Frostpunk is a deliberately small strategy game with a smaller focus. There’s still plenty of depth here and apparently people are putting tons of hours in the survival modes. There is a branching tree for the type of society that you want to create and that can get very interesting. Your 2 base choices are religion or military power and from there you have different levels of totalitarian control and can make some interesting combinations.

Frostpunk isn’t the next Minecraft you will put 3000 hours into but at the very least its a solid, well-designed strategy game you will put at minimum 20 hours into. Its kind of the “Sony-ification” of a strategy game. They made an incredibly competent game that you will get around 20 or so hours out of and is well-worth your time.

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