Autonauts | PS5 Review
Autonauts, developed by Denki and published by Curve Games, is a city building simulator with a major twist where you can actually sit back and allow robots to do the work for you. It is currently available on Windows PC, PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo Switch, and for the purpose of my review I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
The game begins with you traversing through space looking for a planet that is uninhabited and ready to be colonised. In the beginning you use crudely made axes and such to farm resources and very quickly the game guides you to the point where you begin making your own Auto Bots that will help to carry out almost any task the game will throw at you. You can choose from a variety of different maps, and you can choose where you begin. I chose an area with a small forest with some easy access to a few lakes and beach areas. As you progress through the levels and meet certain requirements you’ll graduate from being an uninhabited land, to a small village, and eventually you’ll reach the metropolis stage.
The automation aspect of the game is perhaps the most interesting and unique aspect for me. The entire system for it all is incredibly clever and actually borders on being educational as well. Essentially, after you create a robot, you enter “bot mode” where you have to give the robot instructions. You begin off by giving it the necessary tool for the job. For example, if I wanted a robot to chop down some trees for me, I would give it an axe, and then I would show it what I wanted it to do by doing it myself. From then, you can use a massive variety of commands such as telling the robot to do this job infinitely, a certain quantity or until a specific area is clear. I was only really using very basic loops where the bot was programmed for one purpose, and it just repeated that task forever, but I’m sure if someone more proficient at these games got their hands on it, they’d be able to achieve some really impressive feats. Autonauts provides a very interesting way of teaching people the basic foundations of coding, and could even be an effective tool to teach kids the very basics as well. The automation aspect was like a dream come true for me because I don’t deal well with simulation games where I need to micromanage everything and juggle ten different tasks at once, usually at least 8 of those tasks end up incomplete and the crops die and people starve, so I figured the automation would save a life or ten. It did, but I still struggled with it. I found myself only being able to have bots doing jobs for a very short period of time, and I’d often have to spend the entire time watching the bots to make sure they're doing the job correctly, which sort of defeats the purpose in my eyes. I often found myself saying “might as well have done it myself” or “pesky robots are doing a worse job than me”. But I very much believe these issues were more a “me” problem than a game problem, so I’d be interested to see an actual simulation pro trying their hand at this game. The tutorials were excellent and explained the concepts needed very well to me, so my struggle wasn’t down to the information given.
Although Autonauts has very few options in the settings menu, there was one aspect that made me smile and is absolutely worth mentioning. Throughout the game there are weather cycles which include thunder and lightning which brings with it a lot of flashing and there is actually an option to switch off “flashies”, which I found incredible and is an example that other developers should follow. I suffer from epilepsy and know the impact the condition can have on someone's life, so I feel very passionate about seeing more accessibility options in games and seeing a small developer be proactive in this was an instant like from me. I’d love to see more options to limit unnecessary flashing images in video games. The majority of the time, I don’t believe the gameplay would suffer if much of the flashing just didn’t happen, but what it would do is it would allow even more people to enjoy a game that they may not have been able to enjoy if it weren’t for accessibility options. I’m fortunate that I’m not actually classed as photosensitive, however, the worry and headache that flashing images can cause me can easily escalate into something worse, so I try to be cautious.
My biggest criticism of Autonauts mainly lies with the control scheme. I believe this game would play far better using a mouse and keyboard input rather than a controller, and that Autonauts unfortunately fell victim to a poor console port. It got quite frustrating at times navigating the controls which was a shame, so with this in mind I’d recommend playing the game on Windows PC if at all possible, and you’ll likely get an excellent experience that's unhindered by slightly questionable controls.
I’m not big into city building simulators, so I certainly haven’t made astronomical progress yet, but I can absolutely see the value and the enjoyment in this game and can’t wait until the day I progress to the point where my robot army is running the world for me. Autonauts really has a lot of potential to become a very in-depth and enjoyable simulator with many hours of gameplay to be had.
Lj’s Rating: 4 super bots out of 5.
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