Let me begin by stating that I’m not a city builder guy. I’ve spent time with them, and even enjoyed them, but there are tedious aspects to all of them that eventually drive me away from the game.
Aven Colony doesn’t quite change my opinion, but I like it.
Aven is, as I mentioned, a city builder in space, where you are tasked with running a colony on an alien planet and keeping everything from imploding. This means you’ll be building generators for power, farms for farming, factories for factoring, etc, to begin. You’ll build tunnels that act as roads in order to connect everything, and then you’re off. People start flocking to your colony after you build immigration portals. The more people you acquire, however, the more problems arise. Lighting is a factor. Yes, lightning will jack your colony up if you don’t build lightning rods. You’ll be tasked with building hospitals to keep people healthy, along with researching anti alien virus vaccines, because that becomes a real issue. When your people aren’t being killed off by alien avian flu, they need to relax, so you'll be building hang out locals such as bars in order for your folks to unwind. In the campaign, most of these objectives will be handed out by some scientist type people who guide you through everything. There is also an option for trade and barter with other colonies, which will not only provide you (obviously) with substantial items but also help you hit mission objectives. As far as building, you must place people in these buildings, which some people might find tedious, but I actually enjoyed delegating roles. It’s not difficult. If you need a cure for a virus researched with haste, you’ll take some employees from your local pub, dress them up in lab coats, and get it done. Sometimes though, your people aren’t happy with these decisions. Harry the bartender doesn’t always feel like solving cancer. I found moving certain people around when this happens helps productivity. I did my best to keep smiling faces on all my peoples, but I won't lie to you, it can become a hassle. As you progress through the campaign and complete your objectives, you’ll be moved to another planet to try it all again. In general, these tasks get harder as you move from planet to planet. Different planets provide different environmental problems. Was the soil good on your last planet? Well, it sucks on this one, so good luck feeding people. Got giant hole next to your colony? Be prepared for a big ass problem to pop out of it.
Now, for the bad news. Most of what I said might seem pretty typical for a city sim, and it is. That's one of my main gripes with Aven. Look, the game is put together well, it has a great tutorial that makes it accessible to anyone, and it has a decent price point, but it just doesn’t have enough to separate it from the pack. One thing I was disappointed in was the landscape itself. Each planet just seems a variation of earth, jungle, desert, etc. Visually, it’s high quality and pretty to looks at, but creatively, it leaves something to be desired. That’s not to say it’s bad, however, I’m only saying I might have expected more “alien-ness” on alien planets.
That all being said, the game does look beautiful. There is a satisfying feeling after you construct a well-running colony, zoom out, and watch your work unfold with vivid colors and excellent lighting. Even if you zoom in, the game doesn’t lose its graphical capabilities, and I applaud that. The sound design is decent. I like the musical cues, but some of the voice actings rubbed me the wrong way. It’s not bad, it’s just flat. I can’t really swipe too hard at a city sims voice acting, but I felt I should mention it.
Overall, I think Aven Colony is a good game. It’s campaign, while not groundbreaking, is a great tutorial to set you up in case you’d like to try a free build type mode. It’s great to look at, and some of the micromanaging stuff is fun to mess around with. If you’re looking for this type of game, you can’t really go wrong, it’s not priced out of control, and it’s good enough to scratch any itch you have in the genre.
If you like these games, check it out!
Final Score: 7.5/10
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