Floodland | PC Review
Floodland is a post-apocalyptic waterworld colony survival, developed by Vile Monarch and published by Ravenscourt. It was released on the 15th of November, and this review was written playing the Steam version, with story prologue and game tutorial enabled. The game was played on the default difficulty setting.
Floodland edges you into a certain mindset from the very beginning, with a very Horizon-esque title screen, and calm, yet foreboding music. It has that certain post-apocalyptic feeling, but is yet somehow different from other such games. Your first task is to choose a clan, of which there are four. Your choice affects certain traits, but also which leader you will interact with from the beginning. All leaders have extensive background and lore, which you can read to get an insight into the story of the game. Apparently, the world ended by The Event, a tsunami of apocalyptic proportions. Now, survivors have gathered and formed these clans. Your job is to provide a healthy settlement for such a group of survivors, research technology and explore the surrounding areas.
Once the actual game has started, you are introduced to some basic controls. Camera is easy, but the angle is a bit weird. It puts atmosphere over practicality by being tilted to view the horizon. While it’s also a matter of preference, the best solution would be to make it a configurable option. Other than that the game controls and interface are intuitive and easy. The rest of the tutorial plays out a bit differently. There is always a main task to complete to progress the game, but you are otherwise left quite a bit to your own devices. Tutorials will pop up when they become relevant, rather than forcing action all the way, which is an aspect I really liked.
As you progress through the chapters of the game, more and more mechanics are unveiled. It can be a tad overwhelming in the beginning, but new instructions become decently spaced apart, and once you get over that initial hurdle, the game can be picked up quickly in most aspects. First, all you can do is to send people out to explore buildings and gather finite resources. Later you can build gathering structures to obtain so-called renewable resources. You will also need to manage housing, roads, medication, research, recruitment and exploration beyond the initial island.
Sometimes the tutorial can fall a little bit short. For example, it’s not immediately apparent that expeditions can traverse deep water without having to research boats - which is something the game will tell you that you can’t do, as soon as you try to move beyond it with regular exploration. It also took me a while to realize that the game checks for task completion at the start of a new day, so I was confused a few times as to why I couldn’t progress.
So far, we’ve mostly talked about regular survival base building sim stuff. Once you find a clan of new people, and offer them shelter in your settlement, the game becomes interesting in a new way. It turns out that different clans have different world views, and pleasing them all with the same choices will not be possible. To successfully integrate new people into the settlement, you may have to chop up the population into districts, and carefully provide the proper services in each. Clans will almost always dislike working in the same spaces as others, some more than others, and you can alleviate this problem by providing recreational spaces to their liking, or enacting laws that improve relationships. Laws are like a second research tree, where choices are not strictly beneficial. If a clan dislikes your actions, they can become dissent and start striking, or worse. Dissent can be lowered by enacting certain laws. Some laws will raise dissent but come with other bonuses, like less severe crimes. One of my favorite aspects of the game are the nods at modern-day politics and social issues, like handling of diseases and the view of private property and free speech.
If I have a complaint about game mechanics, it’s that it often feels like there is a grind for research points. While you obviously shouldn’t be able to pick everything available without effort, achieving the bare minimum to progress can be a bit annoying and sometimes not particularly rewarding. Imagine grinding for that one research node you’ve wanted for some time, and right after selecting it, you discover it was the other node that you needed to progress the main quest. That said, it may also be a blessing in disguise, because researching without finding old world technology is really slow, so the game is good at both forcing you to explore, and rewarding you for said exploration.
All in all, Floodland is very comparable to games like Frostpunk, and it certainly has taken inspiration in some aspects like research and events. However, it is more lenient with the choices you make, and not having every worker on top efficiency will not ruin you. Instead of top-tier micromanagement, Floodland focuses more on the player’s relationship with the people and clans, and layout of the settlement. In that regard it is more comparable to a city-building sim than a colony survival, and the mix of both is what’s making Floodland feel unique and innovative. As for replayability, my understanding is that you will be tossed into the same story progression quests every time, but you will also be able to play different map seeds, and choose a different starting clan, catering to a somewhat new experience. Adding a scenario mode could be interesting. Music and graphics are not extraordinary in any way, but there’s also nothing to complain about. The guitar tunes fit well with the more-chill-than-regular experience in what I perceive to be the ruins of corporate America. The art-style of the characters is a bit weird, but does appeal to me. Altogether, it is an experience crafted with care (although language-wise it needs some proofreading), and one that I have been enjoying quite a bit and will keep enjoying for quite a while.
Victor’s Rating: 4 out of 5.
Many thanks to PLAION for supplying the review code.
Floodland | Windows PC