LifeisXbox’s The Colonists review | All the robots wanted was to be like us. And to do so, they searched the universe for a place where they could replicate what they learned from us, our way of life. For the good or the bad, they found a perfect location. They landed on a strange but familiar planet, where they sent their settlers to explore and colonize this new place. Now it’s up to you to overseer and command The Colonists on this new planet!
Developed by the British developers CodeByFire and Auroch Digital and published by Auroch Digital, The Colonists is a relaxing building game inspired by classics such as Anno and The Settlers (series where I spent countless hours). In this game, you will instruct your robots, building roads and structures to help them in the process of colonizing this brand-new place. But lookout: you may not be the only one on this planet! Other robots seem to be on a similar mission. When you must compete for space and resources, the clashes may be inevitable! Now let’s go into this mission together and discover everything our little friends here can do on this new planet!
Rafa helped his robots colonizing the planet for more than 10 hours on his Xbox One X. This game is also available for Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PCs, and Nintendo Switch.
What we liked!
- Visuals | The visuals in The Colonist are simple and adorable! More demanding players may find its world a little infantilized, but trust me: it is adorable! From an isometric perspective, it’s easy for you to observe all your surroundings and identify where the fountains of resources are located and the best place to build your structures. But when you start navigating your camera, zooming in and out on your robots and their work, you can spot how much dedication the developers have put on it to give these little fellas some personality! It’s lovely to see them waving and smiling at you with their black and white screens, carrying stuff around, and chopping down trees, for instance.
- Sound | The sound in The Colonists helps to build the calm atmosphere the game emanates. The music is calming and relaxing, mixing electronic music with natural elements in a cheerful vibe that is hard to describe. Think about it as if Sesame Street was performed by R2D2 instead of your usual puppets – I know, a horrible comparison that will disturb your dreams. Still, it was hard to think of a different Robot that is so adorable. Sound effects are a little limited but enough to keep the game interesting.
- Gameplay | If you remember playing The Settlers series back in the day, you will feel in CodeByFire’s new adventure. Your utmost objective is to build a robot society and make it thrive. To do so, you will need to gather resources (like water, wood, and stone) and food (like vegetables, meat, and fish) to feed your robots. This food is used to produce batteries, which are the power source for your robots. Each activity demands a dedicated building that you need to construct to be performed. For instance: to chop trees and gather wood, you will need to build a logger; to grow crops and pick vegetables, you must create a farm. And each one of these buildings requires resources to be made and to operate. Some more advanced buildings will demand you to research for them first. And guess what: these researches also demand resources. The challenge in this game resides in building a society with a steady income of resources and an efficient road network to transport them around while you expand your territory. Believe me when I say that it’s way easier said than done.
- Controlling your settlers | CodeByFire did outstanding work adapting a game designed to be played on a mouse & keyboard to run smoothly with a controller. All your actions, menus, and options are easily accessed by a few button presses, granting you all the agility you need to build a new lumber mill, connect it to a road allowing the required supplies will arrive in place in a feasible time, define the priorities of construction or transportation or whatever action you need to take. Fantastic job, guys!
- Few technologies | The game developers opted for a simplistic approach regarding the technologies you can develop in your settlement. There are three different ages (represented by the researches you need to perform to unlock new buildings and technologies) with constructions divided into nine different categories: Research, Mining, Lumbering, Residential, Food Production, Military, Production, and Transport. Each one of these categories offers up to 11 different structures for you to build. It may look too much but trust me: it is not. I think that CodeByFire could have been a little more audacious and implemented more technologies in these robotic societies, expanding the game’s concept. As it is now, it feels like a race to develop your military structures before your opponents do it.
- Game modes | Besides the campaign, you can only play The Colonists on a sandbox mode with AI-controlled enemies (which will be a test of endurance). The campaign is short but quite challenging in its 13 missions. These missions are divided into combat missions, where your goal is to dominate your enemies, and exploration missions, where your goal is to build an advanced structure in your colony in as little time as you can. The game’s PC version contains an additional game mode not included in the Xbox version of the title. Nothing revolutionary, but thanks to it, this console version feels incomplete compared to the PC version, which was released back in 2018.
- Tough AI | Facing adversaries in this game is no easy task. AI-controlled robots are more intelligent and more efficient than I could ever imagine becoming. They will expand their territories and obliterate you in no time. I was only able to beat the AI when playing the game at a casual difficulty level. I love a good challenge, but these little fellas don’t know what taking easy with noobs means.
What we disliked
- Bugs | When playing the game, I’ve run into some annoying bugs. The first one I want to mention is that the research menu simply doesn’t open when selecting a workshop to research new technologies. Another one was when my robots stopped working for no apparent reason (maybe they started a riot and forgot to tell me about it). I’ve also run into some other minor problems, but these are the ones I want to emphasize in this review. Bugs that shouldn’t be present in a three years old game.
- Combat | … or, better saying, the absence of combat. Like in The Settlers series, one of the games it takes inspiration from, there’s no combat in The Colonists. To expand your colony, you build military watchtowers that expand the borders of your territory according to their field of view. And when you construct one of those towers close to an enemy’s territory, all enemy structures on sight are set ablaze. Unless there’s an enemy watchtower in the area, what will prevent their constructions from burning. And when you and your enemy can no longer expand your territory, you will need to destroy their watchtowers to keep growing your land. And to do so, you will need to upgrade your towers, so they can use arrows or cannonballs to destroy their towers. And this is all the combat you will see in The Colonists – until you reach your enemy’s spaceship and defeat him.
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With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.