The mystique of exploring a planet unknown to the human race has always been present in the dreams of the most adventurous. With the consecutive advances in technology, this dream is more present than ever. Farlanders explores the idea of building a colony on the surface of the red planet, addressing themes such as imperialism, capitalism, as well as job dissatisfaction.
It should be noted that there are different game modes in Farlanders, the Campaign, Freeplay, which as the name implies the player is completely free to do whatever he wants, and the Sandbox mode which is not yet available. The Campaign mode, on the other hand, follows a line divided into 7 missions, which increase in difficulty and which is by far the most interesting point of this title, following the story of Marco, the new architect in charge of building and expanding the colony. The whole story unfolds between small notes of image and text in the style of a visual novel. There are interactions between team members and consequently intrigue and distrust. The point is that Marco’s dream job along the way will become more and more complicated, stressful and with less perks than he would have expected. All these moments are recorded by Marco on his own Vlogs channel making things a little more interesting.
One point that touched me was the power that humanity has over the environment that surrounds it. The fact of having the ability to land on a strange planet and feeling the need to not only explore it, but how to start destroying its surface. I know it’s just a game, but as soon as I started using one of the most important tools in Farlanders to expand my camp, “Terraforming”, which consists of using options like blowing up mountains, reshaping the type of ground, or even creating holes, made me think of this need for destruction in order to expand the camp.
Farlanders’ gameplay impresses with some interesting ideas but quickly descends into a wheel of monotony. The lack of information given to the player can also make the experience a little frustrating at first, or super enriching for those who like minimalism in that sense. The first thing you have to do on the map is to place the base that will be the brain of the entire camp. All maps are randomly generated where resources are spread across. The constructions need to be connected to each other and to the base, or they run the risk of ceasing to function. The fundamental will be the electrical connections and the tunnels, without them there is no power for the production of new resources. Houses beyond this connection will have pipes associated with the transfer of water.
The more the colony expands, the more resources will be needed to keep everything operational and the more complicated it will be to place the different constructions due to the lack of space on the uneven surface of Mars. This is where the terraforming mechanic I mentioned earlier comes in, which lets you blow up mountains, create water points, and more. The bad news is that these tools are given sporadically and very sparsely. Of course, it is also possible to work around this situation by studying the surrounding surface as soon as it is possible to connect everything to the base. Although it is a city builder, the mechanic of passing turns to move things forward leaves the player’s luck completely at the mercy of the RNG Gods of Farlanders. But how do you know what you will receive in the next turn? In the lower right corner of the screen, next to the pass turn button, there are the logos referring to that. In this sense, it is possible to receive new inhabitants, as long as the conditions for this are created, new terraforming options, new resources related to purchases made in the market, among others.
One of the problems I encountered was how the colony’s “happiness” system works. The more people join, the more people there are to work in the various factories, but the more their mood changes. To get around this situation, it is essential to build small centers of fun or entertainment, such as pools, yes pools on Mars because why not, which means high consumption of resources. It is frankly difficult to recover the happiness of the colony and as soon as they start to return to Earth, since they are dissatisfied with the living conditions in the colony, the number of people interested in joining it begins to be scarce. Fewer people to work equals to a lack of personnel to keep the factories running and a lack of resources to keep the colony afloat. Anyway, it’s a giant ice ball.
Farlanders presents an interesting narrative during its missions, but the lack of information regarding all the construction and mechanics necessary to advance with it makes the experience somewhat frustrating.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PC provided by Crytivo]