Embark

Genre: Survival / Colony Management / Sandbox
Developer: Overly Complicated Games
Gamemode: Singleplayer

This voxel based colony builder reminds a lot of Rimworld. People mostly don't really like this comparison, but some gameplay basics are exactly the same. The difference is its graphics and that you can customize your crew before you start. Also you can build houses or bases on different levels and dig deep into the planet. The similarities are hunting and taming animals, creating families, farming, trading with other fractions, defending your base, crafting items to comfort your colonists, research of technologies, management of the jobs, finding survivors that join the colony if you want and mod support on steam.

To be honest I like the graphics of embark far better, than the one at Rimworld. But the gameplay has more than a few bug problems. The description of the developers beautifies this big time. Also the balancing fails by too hard enemies even on easy mode. If you get Orcs early attacking you, you'll just be wiped. Even the monkeys can come in huge groups and you'll not stand a chance without metal armor and weapons. The positive sides need to be mentioned too. It is really very helpful that you can save the crew you once created in the starting screen so that you can use them on your next map too. I was also glad that your people don't drown or get attacked by sharks in water. The idea to preserve food is great, but I could not really figure out how. A better tutorial or gameplay hints might help there. I also thought it is really neat that you can customize your people so that they fit together and fall in love. The possibilities to equip your people with clothes, armor and weapons are just really massive.

And here comes the list of bugs I did encounter and that is in my opinion even for an early access game a lot: Most annoying are constant messages that any creature on the map would run amok. If they don't reach you those messages pop up at each loading of the game and pile up and you need to click more and more messages away each time. As well as inaccessible messages, that tell you any place or structure would not be accessible for a job. Zooming to the location won't show you anything even if you search on the layers under or above. Parts of your surrounding can get invisible at times. River water might just disappear for a while. The more people you got the more the sound and music starts lagging and gets interrupted. While loading randomly generated worlds the loading bar seems to get stuck sometimes. There are also some things that I will count to the intentionally gameplay mechanics, that are still quite annoying and would need a fix: Metal doesn't give you always metal if you farm it. The strange talking sounds of your people can really go on your nerves after short while. Tamed animals seem to be useless except you could breed them probably for killing and eating them or selling them. Would be nice to get wool or milk from sheep, but they seem to have no purpose other than being pets or food. Stockpiles are a big mess. You can not see how much items you store there, an overview about the amount of each kind of item would be very helpful. Also you'll need a stupid amount of stockpiles like in the game Stoneheart. This isn't overly complicated, it is overly messy to clutter the landscape by stockpiles. Till you researched barrels you'll have to live with this mess of not stack able items. You can also only guess how much cooked food you stored for example and go on producing if you don't want your people to starve or search yourself the stockpiles. I learned some skills like the aqueduct and could never figure out how and where to build them. Most items are build in any crafting workshops, but not this one. Water purifier, where? People mentioned those in steam, I did not see them. And by this we are at the biggest problem, to find any water resource that is not salty. The randomly generated maps did most of the time not give me islands with any water resource. I was looking for a small island with less enemies and started about 50-100 times till I found one with drinkable water and metal and enough trees. After that you just can't give it a good review anymore. My people ran and swam over the whole map to find some water, their jobs were laid down and they got sometimes even killed on their way. The enemies did also partly come from long distance over the ocean. I had also people getting stuck on top of a window sill while building a house. Sometimes ladders got ignored and the game pretended there wouldn't be any pathing.

The game would be more acceptable if the developers wouldn't have announced it as having few bugs only. The bugs aren't completely game breaking but partly annoying. One of the main problems is finding lakes or rivers. There are also some technologies that just don't get explained. I was completely lost with building saltworks. The graphic isn't anything to write home about, but if you don't mind a cube graphic you can at least say that it is far nicer than the 2d graphics. The music is average and doesn't disturb you. The building system reminds of Minecraft block building style and is a lot of fun. Resources can be easily collected with tools. Your characters will level and improve their abilities if they use them. The game could be very enjoyable without all the bugs and water problems. They got changing weather and day and night. I don't get why they did not give us water barrels to collect water. Also if you just imagine that kids are also buying this game, I need to question here how any ordinary person could know that chalcopyrite is copper? Some things need really an explanation in this game! I would still hesitate buying this game, because although it can be pretty enjoyable it still got too many problems and is by this even on sale still a bit overpriced, because people will partly have the feeling that it is still unplayable.

We recommend: If you like colony builders games, wait till it gets improved!