It’s always kind of a gamble whenever a City Builder or Real Time Strategy game makes its way onto consoles, almost exclusively because the flexibility and versatility afforded by a mouse and keyboard setup doesn’t always translate well to a controller.
Take the phenomenal Stellaris for instance, and it’s numerous complicated systems and mechanics. It came to consoles earlier this year and while it still manages to be a similarly fantastic game on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, a lot of the minute decisions that players need to make in it are often hindered by the fact that they are limited by controllers and a clunky control layout. It’s still very functional, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not hard to see why it’s still a step down.
Frostpunk doesn’t share much with Stellaris since it’s primarily a City Builder, and it’s also not as complicated and vast. But time management still plays a role in the game, and it’s still a fairly complex strategy game that often requires quick thinking.
And while I was initially concerned that this might be another one of those PC titles that just don’t translate well to consoles, Frostpunk on the Xbox One has put my worries to rest by being one of the best console ports I have ever played, to the point where I find it hard to differentiate between the two versions of the game in terms of quality and polish.
Right off the bat, the modified UI is very convenient and straightforward. The entire construction menu has been converted into an easy to use selection wheel, which you can quickly access by pressing LT on the Xbox One controller. Building specific menus are more or less the same as they are on PC, and they honestly couldn’t be improved upon much anyway.
Basically every menu that needed to be tweaked for consoles has been slightly altered in a good way. It’s all very quick and streamlined, and I didn’t ever feel that it was cluttered at all. Granted however, I have played this game on PC before and I knew exactly what I needed to look for every point of the way. Newer players who pick this game up on consoles for the very first time might be slightly confused at first, but again, it’s all very smooth and clean.
Gameplay wise, this is the same blend of careful city planning and survival aspects that we know and love. It revolves around fulfilling the needs of the people in your city and making sure that they are kept fed and warm, while constantly discovering new technologies and structures.
You manage your vulnerable workers and divide them carefully among different resource nodes, making sure that you always have a steady supply of consumables such as Wood, Coal and Steel. You then use these resources to build bigger and better things for your people in order to help them better survive the harsh frozen wasteland.
You need to build heating structures, homes and anything that turns your people into a more effective workforce, and along the way you have to make some less than savory decisions that affect morale and Hope. There are some very tough choices that you have to make in this game, and a lot of them are fairly morbid and cruel in nature.
Your workers in Frostpunk are not mindless drones, they have needs that extend beyond just roofs over their heads and rations. They need hospitals to treat the injured among them, and they need cemeteries to bury their dead, and how you approach these requirements not only affects their satisfaction, it also says a lot about the lengths players are willing to go to in order to achieve their goals.
In conclusion, Frostpunk is a fantastic city builder and management sim that goes to some very dark places and has players make some very difficult choices.
It’s overall resource collection, research and city expansion gameplay loop is incredibly fun and rewarding, and it translates wonderfully to consoles. The switch from mouse and keyboard to controllers is extremely well done, and the experience is almost identical in terms of gameplay. This is an extremely well done port.
Frostpunk: Console Edition is out now on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. It was developed and published by 11 bit studios. This review covers the Xbox One version of the game.
The review code was provided by the publisher.
Frostpunk: Console Edition Review
Frostpunk: Console Edition is a fantastic port of an already fantastic game. It’s still as dark and depressing as ever, and it’s gameplay is still as complex and rewarding as it ever was. You cannot go wrong with this title.