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Surviving The Aftermath Hands-on Impressions From PDXCON 2019

Surviving the Aftermath Key Art

Paradox Interactive has finally revealed more details about Surviving the Aftermath, a strategy game that's now available in Early Access on the Epic Games Store and Xbox Game Preview at an early-bird discount of $19.99 / £15.49 / €19.99. Paradox Interactive is known for developing or publishing amazing strategy games, like the excellent Age of Wonders: Planetfall, and we were given the chance to experience Surviving the Aftermath during a press event at PDXCON 2019.

Surviving the Aftermath is a successor to Surviving Mars, a city-building simulator set on the red planet. The setting of Surviving the Aftermath moves players to a ruined version of Earth where natural disasters plague the landscape on a daily basis. Players must manage a dwindling number of supplies in order to keep as many people alive as possible. The overall premise of Surviving the Aftermath is similar to that of the awesome Frostpunkwhere the enemy is the land itself.

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Related: 10 Best Grand Strategy Games Of All Time, Ranked

Surviving the Aftermath is broken up into two sections - a real-time strategy game involving a village that the player has to actively build, and a turn-based strategy game that takes place on a segmented map where skilled survivors (known as Specialists) can explore nearby regions for items. Our playthrough of Surviving the Aftermath hit the village with two disasters: a radiation storm that caused crops to wither and villagers to suffer from horrible radiation poisoning, and a meteor shower that annihilated parts of the village where it seemed as if the only strategy for survival was to salvage as many buildings as possible. The brutal nature of the town segment in Surviving the Aftermath was reminiscent of the hard choices in Dawn of Manwhere the cavemen were always under threat by something in their environment.

The town segment of Surviving the Aftermath also has several events, where the residents in the town will have a problem that needs resolving and the player is given a choice of how to proceed. There are also visitors to the village who will barter for goods, ask for help, or shake down the town for protection money. These moments give Surviving the Aftermath the same feel as The Walking Dead video game series by Telltale Games. The excellent games based on The Walking Dead often put the players into these life and death situations where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and these same hard choices without a right answer can be found throughout Surviving the Aftermath.

One thing that is notable about the demo of Surviving the Aftermath was that there were no buildings that allowed the player to train military units. The battles in Surviving the Aftermath involve skirmishes in the turn-based mode, which leaves the village feeling defenseless against intruders. New building types are unlocked through a tech tree powered by scientific discoveries that the Specialists can find on the world map. There weren't many options available in the demo and it felt as if this aspect of the game was still in the early stages of development.

Surviving the Aftermath Town Gate

The turn-based map opens up when the player has some Specialists in their village, who can often be found among survivors who come seeking haven. Specialists can take a single action each turn and they cannot take another until their meter fills up in the real-time map. The map is broken up into individual regions and these take an action to explore. The regions often contain precious resources that can be used to upgrade the tech tree or build vital facilities, but they can also contain powerful bandit enemies. The bandits we encountered in the demo build were incredibly strong, which meant that an aggressive strategy would only lead to dead Specialists. It made a lot more sense in our situation to explore and try to plunder unguarded sources of loot, as the Specialist units were too valuable to risk in combat.

Surviving the Aftermath balances the harsh survival aspect of the town simulator with the mystery of exploring the dangers of the outside world. Both of these styles compliment each other in different ways, as surviving the natural disasters is all about making the tough decisions, while the turn-based map is all about risk and reward. The environment can feel like a cruel and unstoppable enemy, but the joy in Surviving the Aftermath comes from the survivors shaking their fist at mother nature and persisting for another day.

Surviving the Aftermath Features

Survivng the Aftermath village
  • No Place Like Home: Build and manage a colony of survivors after a world-ending event. Construct more than 50 unique buildings to handle everything from resource collection and farming to exploration and security. Don’t forget to construct the Gate to venture into the savage world beyond your colony.
  • Surviving Earth: Explore a vast procedurally generated world featuring six different biomes filled with exploitable resources, bandits, and more. Each environment has different conditions that will affect your colony’s survival. Stay vigilant: Natural disasters will put your survivors to the test.
  • Survival is my Specialty: Recruit over 46 unique Specialists, each with their own skills and motivations, to manage your colony’s resources and production. Send them beyond the Gate on scientific missions, scavenger runs, and to fight bandits.
  • Expect the Unexpected: Life in the aftermath requires you to make moral choices. You may not be able to control everything in your colony, but how you respond to situations and emergent events will shape the character of your new civilization.
  • Mods: Surviving the Aftermath players can bring their own visions to life using Paradox Mods.

The demo build of Surviving the Aftermath was still in a rough state and it's clear that several aspects of the game were still in early stages of development (most notably the tech tree), but it's showing great promise and we can't wait to try the final version of the game.

Next: The Best Squad-Based Strategy Games

Surviving the Aftermath launches in late 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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