Survival on alien planet

Stranded: Alien Dawn

Stranded: Alien Dawn


need to know

what is it? Survival colony builder on an alien planet
expect to pay: $34.99 / £29.99
developer: Hemimon Games
publisher: Frontier Foundry
Reviewed on: RTX 2080, Intel i7-9700K, 16GB RAM
multiplayer game? No
associate: Official Website(opens in a new tab)

Like a scene from Starship Troopers, dozens of gigantic alien bugs are sprinting towards a base on an alien planet, while winged insects swoop down from the sky overhead. The only thing stopping them is a defensive wall and some determined humans. Wait a moment.Where yes Those determined humans?

Tragically, one of them lay unconscious in the field after being struck by lightning with brain damage. Another had a nervous breakdown and kicked chairs to pieces in the living room. The third guy is a pacifist, so instead of fighting a war, he makes a meatless sausage made of hay. Only one of my colonists is actually battling hordes of alien bugs.

Yep, I think my base was messed up – although since dinner only had hay sausage, maybe it was for the best.

Stranded: Alien Dawn is part RimWorld and tower defense game, with a little Sims thrown in. The premise of Survival Colony Builder isn’t all that original: put a small group of colonists on an alien planet to survive in the face of food shortages, alien attacks, bad weather, disease, and conflicting personalities. But what it does so well on the standard setting is generate memorable tales of disaster, survival, occasional comedy, and a true white-finger rescue.

crash and learn

There are several different starting scenes in Stranded: Alien Dawn. You can choose to play as a small group of soldiers building a military base, where they must build a powerful comm station and then defend it from hordes of alien bugs. Another scenario has you building an outpost on a frontier planet and establishing trade with ships in orbit, hoping to earn enough money to buy an entire planet.

(Image credit: Haemimont Games)

But the best scenes are the ones that most resemble true survival stories. It starts with a crash, with your survivors standing around the burning wreckage of their spaceship. Often, some of them react quite naturally: they get down on their knees and start sobbing. But pretty soon you can get everyone to work, and the early hours and days are crazy as you keep them busy cutting trees, mining stones, growing crops, observing exotic flora and fauna, and collecting scrap metal from crashes . Keep your humans fed, warmed by fire, safe from natural hazards and insects, and in no time you’ll be taking them from their tiny, rudimentary shelter to a proper base with modern technology.

Managing a crew is a challenge that requires a lot of close attention: each survivor has a different skill level in combat, building, crafting, and more – many starting from scratch. They are astronauts after all, so what do they know about agriculture or construction? They also have personality traits that, for better or for worse, affect the well-being and productivity of them and those around them. This can be useful, for example, when someone is so good at crafting that others can learn just by being around them.

(Image credit: Haemimont Games)

It can also be disturbing, like when someone has the “bloodthirsty” trait and gets a happiness boost because they’re just watching other people die horribly. Knowing each colonist’s quirks, and what makes them happy or angry, is the best way to avoid behaviors like crying or senseless violent outbursts against dining room chairs that prevent them from doing anything else until they recover.

There are even hulking mechs for patrolling and defending your base and borders.

Luckily Stranded: Alien Dawn has great tools that allow you to control every second of your colonists’ day. You can set hourly schedules for each survivor, including leisure time. You can prioritize their tasks or assign them specific jobs and prohibit them from doing things they hate or hate. You can directly control them when you want or need them, such as during an attack or when specific jobs need to be done immediately. If you want, your micromanagement can even extend to dictating which shelves they should stock certain resources and what diet they should eat. This is a great and flexible system if you like to dig deep to optimize the behavior of your colonists.

(Image credit: Haemimont Games)

The tech tree also contains useful, craftable science, from cranking up the air conditioning and heating systems in your base, to the sensors and switches that automate the power grid. There are even hulking mechs for patrolling and defending your base and borders.

It’s really tricky to prioritize which tech you should unlock next – sure, you want to build motion-activated missile launchers to protect your perimeter, but you also need to research synthetic fabrics because your colonists’ clothes are falling apart , and you’re just one step away from unlocking 3D printing, hydroponics, and even musical instruments for your colonists to enjoy. In my games, I find myself constantly weighing the choices between what I want to build next versus what they need most.

Alien vs homeowner

(Image credit: Haemimont Games)

Your survivors will also have to deal with a variety of diseases and physical conditions, some of which were present before their arrival on the alien planet. One of my survivors had a cybernetic eye implant, which sounded cool – but it turns out the company that made it went bankrupt, and now this unsupported device is giving him migraines and could kill him in a few years he.

The endgame is tense and exciting — even a little sentimental.

Another survivor arrived with mild liver disease, but it got worse as the years wore on on Earth, so much so that he limped around the base with a hand on his waist , in excruciating pain all the time. These little quirks and conditions help them become more than just anonymous figures growing vegetables or hunched over a workbench—they slowly turn into people you actually care about. Or, you know, really nasty.

I rarely play survival games with actual endings. In the crash-landing scenario, I ended up setting up a series of comms arrays that could signal passing ships, and I found that I could get them to send a one-man escape pod. One by one I send my long-suffering colonists to the safety of a passing starship, each time one escapes it puts my colony in greater danger as bug attacks increase, stay and defend There are fewer and fewer colonists on the base.

(Image credit: Haemimont Games)

It took a full year in the game to get everyone safe, and the final game was tense and exciting – and even a little sad, as I watched the last colonist after years of hard work and growing rescued after the danger.

Stranded: Alien Dawn has some flexibility in terms of difficulty levels, including a peaceful mode where the alien insects are docile and you get a permanent happiness bonus for each survivor – so if you want Turn off the bug attack and enjoy the game as a peaceful house builder and farming simulation as you can. Or you can go the other way and make things more challenging, like more random disasters, or an intensification of insect attacks at night. You can even try to start your colonists with zero skill points.

(Image credit: Haemimont Games)

I do wish the procedurally generated maps weren’t so tedious. There’s an exploration system where you can send a colonist in a hot air balloon (and off-screen) for a few days to gather resources and even occasionally find new survivors, but exploring the map itself, beyond the boundaries of my actual base, is a pain in the ass less fun. Most of my attention is focused around my base, and I’ve never had an interest (or even need) to move away from it.

Colonist AI and pathfinding are also more work – sometimes I’ll see a bunch of resources right in front of me, but my colonists won’t collect it, or the game will tell me it’s impossible to reach, I’m going to have to go and control a colonist specifically to get it.

But those issues aside, I like Stranded: Alien Dawn as a survival colony builder. It never really reached the depth of a game like RimWorld, but there was still a lot of complexity in terms of technology, base building, and especially the management of my long-suffering little colonists. They’re not always as reliable as soldiers in bug raids, but it’s hard to blame them. Instead of researching 3D printing, maybe I should feed them better food.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.