Planetbase: A Science Fiction Colony Simulator

Planetbase is a wonderfully challenging game that takes the nightmare of managing a space colony and dealing with all manner of issues to the next level! It’s a beautiful resource management game in which your choices can mean the life or death of your colonists! The overarching goal of the game is to establish and maintain a colony on one of a number of planets with varying degrees of difficulty which intensify as you move to stranger (and more dangerous) new worlds!

As you grow your colony and bring new colonists on board, you must attend to the needs and welfare of the people who work for you as you struggle to survive in increasingly difficult situations. Planetbase cannot be won the traditional way as even if when you have collected every achievement on a certain planet, you will not succeed in winning the game. Instead, you can continue playing with your colony for as long as you choose. There are a few set missions with specific goals that you can beat, but the main enjoyment I find comes from just playing on a planet of your choice!

There are many challenging problems to resolve on each of the different worlds you can colonize, and you will find that starting even one colonist short really increases the challenge.

The first planet, Class D, is complicated by sandstorms and meteors but is shielded from some of the more dangerous problems, such as radiation and methane lakes. It has a nice buildable surface and is a relatively relaxing difficulty… Until one of your bio-domes is crushed in by a meteor killing most of your botanists. Class D is the easiest, but not by much and you’re hugely assisted with an easy early game thanks to your starting colonization team.

The most attractive planet is the Class F. It is a chilly, ice-covered globe that relies more heavily on wind turbines than on solar panels which operate at a much lower efficiency. Despite this, it’s always worth building one or two for their reliability. Even while meteors are not a concern on this planet, blizzards frequently batter your base and the colonists and it can be a little difficult to survive here. The Class F planet is made harder by the fact you start with a lower colonist count and no construction bot.

Since the class M Planet lacks an atmosphere, wind turbines are useless! You will have to rely on good power storage and solar panels for this nightmare of a world. Solar flares are relatively common and they will irradiate your colonists and deplete your supply of medical supplies quickly. The Class M Planet is for me the hardest, mainly because I struggled the most here.

The Class S Planets are dreadfully hard as well. They make playing the game extremely challenging due to their surfaces being covered with methane lakes, lower efficiency for solar panels and wind turbines, and horrible thunderstorms make it a pain in the neck trying to survive. With low buildable area and a small group of colonists, you’re going to have a nightmare on this one, though I still feel the Class Ms are a lot more horrible to play on once your base has been expanded due to the solar flares.

Maintaining colonists’ lives is challenging. You’ll require food, water, oxygen, and a place to make the meals. Thankfully you don’t have to manage their interpersonal relationships and they are all very professional! You’ll need beds for them to sleep in, a medical bay for when they become hurt, and places they can rest and relax in. A potted plant and a TV screen go a long way, but for big colonies you’ll definitely need to build a place where they can run like hamsters in giant wheels to get rid of all the stress of being micromanaged!

While you can trade with the trading ships for supplies, you will always lose out on the commission they charge, which will always result in you spending absurd amounts of money in a desperate attempt to get a few things you really need. You will need to be able to manufacture resources in the future in order to extend your colony though so early trading may be a necessity.

You’ll need to control your colonists’ behaviour as well as your colony’s resources because if you trade too much too quickly, they can abandon their regular responsibilities, which could cause you to run out of food and other resources. You must be smart about how frequently and when you trade since if they are overworked they might also become disgruntled and work at a much slower rate. You want nice, friendly gruntled colonists!

Your colony expands as you build new areas and more colonists arrive aboard ships. These plucky new colonists can take the place of those who are mistakenly killed by you or are killed by invaders. You must be wise in your hiring decisions because ineffective food management will result in the extinction of your colony. Keep a watch on your resources since you’ll find that you need more oxygen, water, and all the goodies required to keep your colony ship shape!

You must be extremely cautious when choosing when to perform particular tasks because you have no direct control on colonists or their individual actions. On a planet with solar flares, for instance, it is advisable to develop your colony and work in mines at night when it is safe to do so. Your irradiated colonists will suffer a terrible death otherwise, believe me, I have caused many unnecessary deaths by making people do dumb things at the wrong times. I have yet to experience two solar flares in a row but anything can happen in this game.

Early on, power can be a big problem, and it’s likely the most crucial factor to the success of your colony. You may wish to turn off superfluous structures at night or during times when you aren’t utilizing them if you are struggling for electricity and you are out of spare parts used to fix things. Sometimes it’s best to recycle things when you’re not using them, even if it does ultimately bring back less resources than you spent.

These are only a handful of the challenging things that the game requires you to balance. Playing it is a lot of fun, and beating the tougher planets and scenarios gives you a real sense of accomplishment. You’ll discover that Planetbase improves your resource management abilities in all real-time strategy games as most of them have far more limited resource possibilities and much more control over how and when you access them. Planetbase will make this easy by comparison due to the intricacy of managing so many different resources.

One of Planetbase’s most impressive features for me was that it supports high quality visuals without using a lot of resources – a problem I sometimes struggle with when trying to record graphics-intensive games.

I think it’s one of the best games I’ve ever purchased, and I heartily endorse it! Planetbase earns a respectable 8.5/10.

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