You have finally arrived, your capsule has touched down, and you and your fellow colonists descend the ramp to the surface of your new home… a desolate and dangerous world. Are you up for the challenge of establishing a thriving colony? You had better be because it is getting dark and your colonists are running out of oxygen.
Planetbase is a single-player colony building game developed by Madruga Works. It was originally released on PC in late 2015 and has since been released for Mac, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.
The goal of the game is simple, build, and maintain a thriving colony. The game has four planets to colonize. Each one harder than the last and each requiring a certain number of milestones be unlocked before you gain access. After selecting your planet, you then need to select a landing site. You can select any location on the planet ranging from sixty degrees north and sixty degrees south of the planet’s equator. This gives you almost unlimited possibilities for landing sites to explore and colonize. Some landing sites will be amazing with lots of flat open spaces to build and others will be borderline impossible to colonize.
Once you have selected a planet and a landing site your capsule will land on the planet and a handful of colonists will await your orders. The number and type of colonists and robots you start with depends on the planet you have chosen. The easiest planet gives you everyone and everything you need to get started but as you progress through the planets, you get fewer resources, fewer robots, and fewer colonists in the beginning. Time is of the essence though so do not spend too much time trying to plan things out right away. You need to start giving your colonists tasks by instructing them to build the basic structures they will need to survive.
Once the basic structures are placed it is time to dig in and get to work. There are five basic resources in the game that each colony needs – power, water, food, starch, and ore. There are several structures your colonists will need to build to collect these resources. Power and water are produced and consumed automatically in the background by certain structures and colonists. Food, starch, and ore are produced by the colonists and are used in more advanced structures to create other resources and goods.
As you build structures that are more advanced, you gain the ability to create things like medicines to keep your colonists healthy, robots to help around the colony, and guns to protect your colony. You can also buy, sell, and trade with trader ships that may arrive from time to time. Traders also sometimes offer blueprints of robots, more advanced versions of structures, and genetically modified crops.
As you expand your colony, you will need to start bringing in more colonists to help with the extra workload. Be sure to plan carefully because you could easily find yourself with too many workers and not enough food to feed them all. Maybe you should have brought in some more biologists first to start creating more food before bringing in more workers.
As your colony expands and becomes more well-known travelers may arrive needing medical assistance or maybe they are just tourists passing through… or maybe they are marauders set on destroying your colony. It doesn’t hurt to have a nice stockpile of guns just in case.
There are plenty of other dangers besides marauders you will need to contend with as well. Each planet has its own set of dangers like meteors, dust storms, and dangerous solar flares. If you are not prepared, your colony could easily be wiped out.
The gameplay itself is pretty simple. You select and place the structures you want to build, you place the machinery in the structures that colonists will use to generate resources, you set limits on manufacturing certain items, and then the colonists and robots do the rest. There is also a nice in-game help system that gives you some details about the various gameplay mechanics.
The graphical style of the game is simple and pleasing to the eye. Simple cubes skinned with an icon identify the various resources and goods. The different types of colonists have specific uniforms (and pajamas) that identify the colonist’s role. Structures are simple in design but still nicely detailed.
The UI is pretty simple, using icons to represent the various menus and structures. Finding the structure you want to build or checking your colony stats is easy.
It can be fun and even relaxing watching your colonists go about their daily routine tending to the vegetables, relaxing in the bar after a long day in the mines, or watching the robots spring into action to collect food from the bio-dome and carry it to the food machines. It’s almost like watching ants in an ant farm hard at work. Overall Planetbase is a simple yet challenging colony builder. It is fun to play and enjoyable to watch. It may not be on as large a scale or as complicated as some of the games in the genre but the small scale and the simplicity of Planetbase are part of its charm.