As humans, we are always looking at ways to expand our existence, but once we have exceeded Earths capacity, where next would we venture? Mothership Games has tried to answer that question with Aven Prime, humanities new home, setting up colonies across different locations and terrains. Unfortunately, everyone knows that moving day never runs smoothly.
Aven Colony is split between Campaign and Sandbox Mode. The Campaign transports you to new terrains, with numerous different scenarios, that each teach you the different ways Aven Colony can be played. The first two Holo Sims ease you into the mechanics and the controls. Once you’ve concluded your basic training, you can then move on to colonizing your first area. You’re provided with the basics and assisted with different mission objectives to help you get your little habitat off the ground. Scanning unusual artefacts or achieving a demand will trigger a victory, but to reach that goal requires a lot of work.
Aven Prime is full of vast, contrasting landscapes, with different climates, resources, and farming conditions. Each mission select on the campaign provides a brief summary on the mission objective, with additional information on the conditions. Now, whenever I have ventured into building simulations, I have always ended up playing it the same way over and over again; Aven Colony’s Campaign forces you to think differently. One scenario would see me on a vast desert plain, with the objective of forging a mining colony, whilst on a frozen tundra I would have to utilise my trade options in order to keep my citizens alive. This ever-changing formula solved the problem that I had with building simulators; the boredom usually caused by mundane repetition didn’t surface, and I found my attention always focused on the task at hand.
Main resources are your first priority: Mining, Farming, Electricity, and a substantial Water Supply is required to keep you citizens alive. The Construction Wheel that has a variety of buildings you can add to your colony is smooth and easy to navigate; most types of constructions are tiered, but if initially you can only afford the lower tier, you can upgrade them at any point. Alerts and information are provided, so if any crisis appears, you are able to rectify the situation before your colony suffers any losses. The basics are more important when winter arrives- everything will slow down, leaving you in disarray if you didn’t prepare correctly.
Aside from the main resource buildings, other establishments can be created, to provide different services for the citizens. After you have implanted the essentials, the next important step is to bring immigrants that will expand your little colony. Research Centres and Chemical Plants can further your knowledge on the different wild vegetation that grows on Eden Prime, crafting products that you can trade with. The Trade Hub acts as the base for those trades, linking yourself to the other colonies on Aven Prime, allowing you gain more resources or more food for your citizens. You can venture into new pastures by building the Expedition Centre. This will allow you to explore the surrounding area of your colony, where you can gather extra resources or scan different alien artefacts that you might find.
Once you’re able to sustain your self, the next priority is to keep your citizens happy. Morale has a major impact in Aven Colony, as it determines whether you are fit to lead. Every 3 Sols (year) a referendum is held to determine whether you are doing a good job of running the colony. Keeping their morale high will see you continue on, but the public have many requests to keep themselves happy. These issues are relatable to everyday life – Air Quality, Crime, Commuting, and Jobs all top the list, but managing to maintain these issues will ensure your reign. It was always something I had to keep an eye on whilst still trying to expand the colony, but the key to why Aven Colony is great is through the layout overlays it provides.
These layout overlays are vital, allowing you to see the different undertones of the colony. For the overlay selection, you could visually see what was happening throughout you colony in real time. Crime Areas, Commuting, Resources Management… the list continues, as it correlated with the needs of the citizens. If, during a referendum, the colony was worried about air pollution, I would pull up the overlay screen. This would display the area that was suffering most, and I would therefore be able to install air filters to improve the area and keep the citizens happy.
There are also numerous threats to your colony that you must combat. From the alien creepers that will attached themselves to buildings, to winter electrical storms with the potential to shut off your entire colony. Using defence structures will combat this; setting up lightning towers, or installing Scrubbers Drones maintains the threats. Again it’s the alert system that will keep you up to date, so any incoming threats could be combated against quickly before it escalated.
For me, building simulators have always been hit and miss on console, mostly due to messy control layouts, but Mothership Games has crafted a game that is fluid. Controlling the camera is simple. You can quickly zoom in and out, finding the best location to place your next structure. You’re also able to swap between God Mode camera to a citizens camera. This allows you to see how your population’s commuting, if there’s any congestion or any indication of their current morale.
The different locations across Aven Prime are all contrastingly unique, however they do each have a familiar theme of purity. The untouched nature of the landscapes feels as though you alone have inherited it. Aven Colony generally runs smoothly, but there are moments when the game will slow down, usually while filtering through overlay. However, it is never enough to cause any real problems.