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Dystopian Colony Management Game Surviving the Aftermath

Dystopian Colony Management Game Surviving the Aftermath

Surviving the Aftermath: Dystopian Colony Management Game

Developed by: Iceflake Studios

Published by: Paradox Interactive (Surviving Mars, Cities Skylines, Stellaris, Hearts of Iron IV etc)

Sold via: Epic Games (currently in early access) for the teensy sum of approximately £15.49

Reminds me of: Surviving Mars with a hint of Banished.

I am a huge fan of colony management games, and Suriving the Aftermath, a dystopian colony management game is a hit waiting to happen.

Your mission is to build a thriving colony. In this case we are set in a post apocalyptic future, trying to rebuild society, as long as we Survive.

It all starts after the big boom…

The game world is set on Earth after some kind of catastrophic nuclear event.

Your needs are basic. Water. Food. Clothing. Wood. Metal. Plastic.

Piles of scrap are treasures waiting to be uncovered.

Dystopia isn’t Pretty

Paradox’s recent other colony management game, Surviving Mars was aesthetically a lot more polished than Surviving The Aftermath appears to be at the moment. One could argue that the grungier textures are thematically in keeping with the whole ‘surviving the apocalypse’ vibe, so I won’t judge it solely on aesthetics.

It’s basic things like being able to differentiate between buildings that I’m finding trickier than with Surviving Mars. They’re all multicoloured messes of wood and old plastic (as one would expect) but it makes them really difficult to tell the difference between your sawmill and your trapper for example.

When Earth’s Environment is Harsher than Mars

You will face many problems, even on the easiest setting.

Here’s what I’ve learned from having started upwards of 20 colonies at this stage:

You’re not creating a colony for grand expansion, the way you might have done on Mars…you are surviving.

Every resource is precious. Don’t build housing unless it’s absolutely necessary (if you have X number of homeless). Don’t upgrade every house that you build at every opportunity. It’s ok to have a spread of different home types and sizes – you are going to be desperate for resources so don’t waste them.

You can’t help everyone. You will get people at the gate wanting to join your colony, minutes before a massive nuclear fallout is about to hit and you have hardly any food. Taking them in, will guarantee your colonies failure. Remember, they’re just pixels. Don’t feel bad. Save the ones you can.

Resource scarcity isn’t the only problem though, hah…I wish.

Let’s start with the Relatively Minor Apocalyptic Events…


People get sick! Make sure you have enough medical tents and personnel to see to them.


It’s super hot! Crops might wither…people drink twice as much as usual – make sure your water supply is sufficient and you have enough stored up.

dystopian colony management game

Magnetic Storm

This one could potentially fit into the catastrophe section below – depending on whether your colony is new or more established.

The earlier this happens to you, the more survivable it is. If it happens once a lot of your colony relies on power, make sure you have enough stored power, or say goodbye to your colony! It wouldn’t be a dystopian colony management game without some power cuts now would it?

Now here are your potentially catastrophic problems

Meteor Shower

Why does it ALWAYS go for the food? Every darn time. I lose at least a third of my working fields, if not more.

Nuclear Fallout

This one really hurts.

What Surviving the Aftermath reminds me of

There are elements in this game that remind me of Banished, especially the basic necessities being turned into tools and clothing etc. Run out of these at your peril. There’s also something about the way the roads function that are similar here. (The better the quality of road, the faster the units walk along it).

The World Map is like a very simplistic version of the Civilization games where you move units according to action points. The individual zones remind me a bit of Northgard – but it remains to be seen if we get to ‘takeover’ areas beyond our own localised colony.

Early Access – Lots of Updates

I’ve noticed in the week since I’ve been playing it – the updates have been plentiful and noticeable!

Early on, I used to get absolutely hammered by incoming disasters to the point where it was almost impossible to grow a colony beyond 50 colonists. They have greatly reduced the number of disasters that spawn, particularly on the easiest setting.

They also increased the amount of metal on the map – a resource that I’ve really struggled with having enough of. There’s always a point where I run out of tools. I feel like they should increase the durability of tools as well.

The largest colony I’ve managed to maintain to a point has been 200 colonists. However due to lack of materials (and slow gameplay on the world map) I’ve never been able to upgrade the housing to the highest setting. The amount of research just isn’t efficient enough to get there when you still have resources.

End Game – What’s the goal here?

The few times my colony has survived (albeit without tools and often…clothes) to reach ‘all research done’ – there appears to be no goal to reach, or major achievement unlocked. Perhaps that’s still being built in. Perhaps the whole point of the game is to enjoy the process.

Another time, I had a large colony and was slightly unprepared for nuclear fallout. The damage was unrecoverable – but I pressed on to see at what point the game would stop me and say FAIL or START AGAIN? But this never happened. I watched my colonists dwindle down to 2 then 1, then eventually zero, expecting SOMETHING to happen – but no the game simply continued with me lugging my specialists across the world map.

Every time I got visitors at the gate, no colonists joined only a specialist – so this perfect large village that I’d built ready to be repopulated with survivours was just sitting there, not functioning. Does it seem like this area could use a bit more development?

Developments I want in this Dystopian Colony Managment Game

Setting our own Trade Deals

I’d like to see more functionality with the Trade Centre. For example – none of the trade deals from random visitors ever sound particularly appealing. What if we could set our own trade deals? Stipulate that we’re willing to trade Planks for Metal and an amount – then have random visitors either take it or leave it.

It would be even better if we could simply swop out resources similar to a Stellaris type marketplace where you buy and sell what you need based on supply/demand. Perhaps this goes against the grain of a survival game where the point is to make do – but still…this would increase my enjoyment of it enormously.

Random Events Create More Opportunities

You know how in Surviving Mars they’ve introduced ‘capture’ meteors to increase the amount of metal and polymers that you have access to? How about if the meteors (that love to aim for my 90% grown crops) could dump a bunch of metal or plastic on the ground for my eager little survivalists to go gather up? If society was really fallen, wouldn’t it make sense for some satellite debris to fall out of the sky now and then?

Clearing Nuclear Waste only has an aesthetic purpose.  Clearing it should;

  1.  Improve my colonists’ health
  2.  Increase my colonists’ happiness
  3.  Improve the production of my buildings
  4.  Increase the harvest size of my crops
  5.  Regenerate the land once the waste is gone
  6.  The Environmental lab should reward research points for every X amount of nuclear waste it clears OR there should be a way to turn the toxic waste into usable materials (depending on researching some futuristic project).

Random Discoveries

It would be nice if we could discover the different seeds to plant on the World Map, and not just RNG from passing traders.

My Final Thoughts

Is it enjoyable – absolutely yes.

Are the devs actively making improvements to the game while it’s in early access? Yes!

Is it worth spending £15.49 on? Right now – definitely – it has already given me many hours of fun and discovery.

I’m going to give it a high 3.5 Stars out of 5 – knowing that they will develop this dystopian colony management game more which will probably raise it to 4 or even 5 stars soon!


About The Author


Artenesse specialises in digital graphic design, and has been a creative professional since 2006. Blogging since 2004 and gaming since before the internet was actually a thing.

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