On occasion, we get games to review that we wouldn’t normally pick up. Especially with indie developers. Sometimes they’re great, other times you don’t just gel with them but you can appreciate how fans of the genre might enjoy it. Sadly for Colonials Programme from indie developer CookieLegends, it’s the latter of those for me, and hopefully, this review will explain why.
Simply put, Colonials Programme is a colony building game, with some puzzle elements in there for good measure. You play as a robot who has awoken after 7000 years of travelling through space. Between you and your robot counterparts, your task is to find planets to inhabit and build colonies on. It was enough to get me interested, but sadly like many of my resources that seemed to disappear, so did my attention span.
The idea is to place machines down to gather resources. From these resources, you convert them into things like power and fuel, and erect buildings that allow you to grow food and eventually, colonize the planet with human life. It is a simple enough set up. But for the love of me, I just couldn’t gel with it. I would even be following the tutorials and in the end, I had to abandon that because it wasn’t working.
The tutorial itself explains how buildings in Colonials Programme need either power or resources, the power is given by two possible means; firstly there is an AI Core on the planet that has the potential to provide both of these, or you can build generators or silos that help you expand the grid network on the map. It gives you a few scenarios where you try to supply every building with what it needs, it’s simple and you’ll fly through it quickly.
Then you’ll be introduced to what is the essentially the first solar system you encounter, where you’ll be set challenges. Simple ones at first like gather so much power or create a colonist, with more challenging ones as you progress through the game. For these first few levels, they’re essentially an extended tutorial. Giving you a better idea about how to gather resources, and what all the boxes around your screen actually mean.
However, following these tutorials got me nowhere. I did exactly as it instructed like the good little boy that I am. But then I didn’t have enough power to actually supply them all. So I’m switching buildings off left and right to stop gathering one resource to allow me to get more power again to power other buildings. Maybe this is what you’re meant to do, and there are other tutorials to go through if you get stuck, but it just became frustrating, to the point I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I just wanted to switch it off.
It was a shame really because the game itself is really well designed, but a lot of the time you’re waiting around just for something to happen so you can then do the next thing and just wait for that to happen. I like to be constantly doing something, and there are only so many times you can look around the screen to familiarise yourself before you get fed up of waiting. A feeling that was already getting to me between levels by having to click through lots of text as robots talk nonsense. Although at least with that you could skip it.
As bored as I got though, I did actually enjoy the visual aspects of the game. It’s a very cute kind of animated design ideal for young children, nice colours with simple geometric shapes. It really does work quite well with the whole being set in the future thing and is definitely one of Colonials Programme‘s stronger points.
The custom soundtrack ties in well too, although after a while repeating the same levels trying to achieve my goals when I had clearly taken a wrong turn, it became like the dreaded hold music you get when you call up to try and get a better deal on your broadband.
Colonials Programme overall thoughts
Like I said at the start, sometimes we get games that we don’t enjoy but can appreciate what the developer has done. And that’s pretty much the case for me with CookieLegends’ Colonials Programme. Whilst it looks the part, for me, it just doesn’t walk the walk. I found it too frustrating and couldn’t help but think that if I just smashed my head on my desk, I might pass out long enough to see I had gathered enough power.
Whilst it’s not a genre I delve into that often, I have played building sims in the past and I’ve enjoyed my time. But quite often they’re on a grander scale. This for me was just not enough to capture my attention and keep it like those other titles. But, I’m sure for more dedicated fans that this may well tickle your fancy because it’s clearly a really well thought out title that can offer a lot if you are happy to dedicate the time to getting to grips with it and persevering. Sadly for me, I just wish those robots hadn’t woken up and had kept aimlessly drifting through space.