Post-apocalyptic RPGs are doing fine these days. With the success of titles like Mutant Year Zero and Fallout series, and producers seeing the popularity of the end-of-days scenarios, games about surviving in the wastelands of various sorts are on the rise. One of such games is Frostpunk.

Developed by Warsaw-based 11 bit studios, the creators behind the excellent This War of Mine, the title deals with the aftermath of volcanic winter. The success of the game was remarkable, so we decided to take a look at other games which may draw in players who enjoy dealing with diminishing resources and difficult choices about survival.

How Frostpunk became a successful game

Hosues in frostpunk

Let’s start with bringing up to speed those who have no idea what Frostpunk is all about. According to the developers, 11 bit studios, Frostpunk is a society survival game. Nothing new, one could say, such games have been released before, with some success – after all, this is what this article will discuss later. But Frostpunk is different. Frostpunk is as ambitious as the idea behind it. 11 bit studios wanted to create the game which would test the players’ resolve and humanity in the face of disaster. After the success of This War of Mine, the studio’s previous title, which also dealt with surviving in a hostile environment they decided to aim a little higher. Inspired by the film “Snowpiercer”, among others, the creators set their game in a frozen wasteland, where the heat and power to maintain it were the most valuable commodities. With the idea more or less shaped, 11 bit studios began working on what would be their most successful work.

Frostpunk’s gameplay is based around the survival of one of the last pockets of humanity, who survived the volcanic winter which descended on the world at the end of 19th century. The player starts with scarce resources and little workforce, and with them, they must start building their city. To move the construction, forward the player will have to gather various resources, such as coal, wood, steel, and food. Another important aspect of gameplay will be the exploration of the surrounding areas for materials and other items that will aid the survival of the player’s city.

Frostpunk game graphics

Fighting for survival in the harsh conditions will not be easy, and the player will be forced to deal not only with the ever-changing weather but the restless society within the city. The player will choose from two paths of how they want to rule their citizen. Following the path of The Law will turn the player’s society into a police state, with propaganda bureaus and strict labor rules. Choosing the path of Faith will create a religion-based society, surviving on the promise of better tomorrow. The in-game choices matter, and sometimes the player will have to choose between his own morality and the growing needs of the people.

Frostpunk turned out to be a resounding success for 11 bit studios. Within three days of premiere, the title sold in 250.000 units. After a year the number grew to 1.4 million. The game received favorable reviews from the press, who were full of praise for the title’s ambitious scope, as well as the resource-gathering-and-survival gameplay and the moral choices of leading the city along two distinct ideological paths.

The best Frostpunk-like games on the market

This War of Mine

Developer: 11 bit studios
Release date: 2014
Why is it like Frostpunk: Because of the implemented survival/resource management mechanics and moral choices made by the player

Let’s begin with the game that put the creators of Frostpunk on the map. In This War of Mine, the player controls a group of civilians, occupying a shelter in a war-torn city. The player’s job is to provide the survivors with the means to last the horror of military conflict, maintaining their resources, as well as mental state.

soldiers this war of mine

The player can send out scouts outside the shelter during the night to gather necessary resources. These nightly excursions may result in encountering a fellow NPC survivor, who can be aided, or robbed and killed. During the day, due to sniper activity in the city, the player will spend time on crafting items necessary to keep the people within the bunker alive. The game was well received and praised for a realistic approach to the subject of survival in extreme circumstances, the dreadful setting and gameplay oriented on gathering resources to stay alive rather than fight.

They Are Billions

Developer: Numantian Games
Release date: 2019
Why is it like Frostpunk: Because of post-apocalyptic, steampunk setting, and gameplay focused on building, expanding and maintaining the player’s base

They Are Billions is set in a randomly generated world, where zombie infestation led to the near-complete annihilation of mankind. The player is put in charge of a stronghold, where the last remnants of humanity try to survive against the undead hordes.

They are Billions gameplay

The gameplay in TAB focuses on building the base and exploring the nearby area for resources. The player’s base can be equipped with defense walls, artillery positions, workshops, and resource gathering buildings. The zombies in TAB will attack the player’s stronghold in waves, at different time intervals. If the outer defenses of the base are breached, the zombie virus rips through the place infesting all non-military personnel buildings.  The game was met with positive reviews, many of which noted how the “build-survive the zombie waves-rebuild” loop made for exhilarating gameplay experience.

Oxygen Not Included

Developer: Klei Entertainment
Release date: 2019
Why is it like Frostpunk: Because it has the player look after survivors in a mostly hostile environment with limited resources

Say what you will but waking up on an asteroid with little to no atmosphere is not what we consider a fun morning. But this is how the characters of Oxygen Not Included start their adventure in space. The player’s task is to look after the three protagonists as they try to create a habitable colony.

Oxygen Not Included colony game

Keeping the spacefarers alive will require keeping an eye on their oxygen and food supply, as well as how rested and clean they are. The colonist may explore the areas within the asteroid, looking for resources to expand their habitat. However, the player should be paying close attention to how hospitable they are: some of them are in a vacuum, while others may lack oxygen. The game was received favorably, with critics praising the complexity and fun of exploring the asteroid and managing the resources at the colonists’ disposal.

Banished

Developer: Shining Rock Software
Release date: 2014
Why is it like Frostpunk: Because it puts the player in charge of a group of survivors, around whom they must create a thriving civilization

Let’s head back to Earth and abandon the sci-fi settings of post-apocalyptic wastelands and desolate asteroids. One of the main features of Banished, the next title on our list, is how grounded it is. The player takes part of the leader of a community of outcasts, who must create a settlement to survive.

banished game pc 2014

The gameplay involves the elements of planned economy, with each member of the community acting as a resource in and of itself. The player assigns the citizen with jobs, performing which will benefit the community as a whole: fishermen will provide food, builders will create housing for the people, etc. Another important aspect the player will want to keep an eye at are the citizen needs. A happy community is a happy city! The game was received warmly, with critics pointing out the games simple-but-complex mechanics as one of the main selling points of the title.

Northgard

Developer: Shiro Games
Release date: 2017
Why is it like Frostpunk: Because it pits the player against harsh weather condition in frozen landscapes

Unlike other positions on our list, Northgard isn’t a management simulator game. However, this real-time strategy still places high in “this game could be Frostpunk” ranking for several reasons. In Northgard, the player takes control of one of the Viking tribes traveling the land of Northgard.

northgard-02-10-2019.jpg

The land will test their resolve as the changing seasons will bring down heavy snowfall and reduced resources will make it harder for the Vikings to survive. The game features complex gameplay mechanics based on gathering resources for the tribe, building and expanding the village and fending off attacks from other clans.   The game was met with a favorable reception, with reviews praising the gameplay mechanics, reminiscent of the Settlers series, as well as a variety of multiplayer modes.

Frostpunk was not the first game about gathering resources and managing cities and will surely not be the last one. However, 11 bit studios’ title has something that other games often lack. Not many of the titles on our list included a morality system in their mechanics. Not many of them let the player choose between benevolence and tyranny, hope and despair. It is those little things, seemingly unnoticeable details, that make Frostpunk such an enticing title.

Choosing what’s right and wrong is never easy, and it’s especially difficult in situations where both choices are wrong. Frostpunk is an excellent game not only in the layer of gameplay and graphics – this title forces the player to put on their moral code and needs of the people who entrusted their lives to the player on the opposite ends of a balance. Which way will it tip? The choice is up to you.