Floodland is an ambitious entry into a genre that has become a favorite of mine in recent years. While I’ve never been much of a city builder to begin with, an apocalypse scenario is a different matter altogether. It’s hard to pinpoint where my love started, but I blame Frostpunk for getting me hooked on games like this.
In many ways, Floodland reminds me of certain similarities, despite a gap of over five years between the two. Make no mistake – the game feels fresh and very different from the existing titles on the market.
While the inspiration is obvious, the core gameplay has enough uniqueness to keep me engaged. However, certain areas left me hoping for more from the developers. They may not be weak in a general sense, but they could have been executed differently.
Floodland seems like a fresh take on a saturated genre, but it could easily have been so much more
The setting and background of Floodland is pretty simple – climate change has wreaked havoc and much of the earth as we know it has disappeared. Fortunately, or unfortunately, climate change saw much of the population and civilization as we know it lost.
That’s where I came in, taking the lead of one of the many clans available in the game. I played the part of re-establishing a society to the best of my ability. This involved rescuing survivors and finding them a home to stay and a place to work.
While ancient civilizations have changed, people have not. Pretty soon, promotions and workloads weren’t the only things I controlled. There was never a single decision that was well accepted by my society.
Ultimately, I had a lot of fun keeping the peace and balance, and Floodland gave me exactly the experience I wanted. However, I couldn’t help but feel the need for more after the hours I put into the game.
As with many games in its genre, Floodland doesn’t have a strong story to tell. Yes, you get an intro scene and a prologue to get you into the system. But calling it a campaign or a story seems like a stretch, and I’m okay with that. The main USP of such games is the limitless potential they offer through their sandbox-based approach.
I liked what the developers did with the game’s exploration system in some areas. One of the essential things you need to do is to choose an area and some of your workers will be sent to it. Discovering new places is the most important task you will have to do.
After a new area is discovered, you will have to use the resources available in it. I had to remind myself that discovery requires food and water, but the rewards are always worth it. Aside from more food and water in exchange, there will always be more resources. Some areas even contain survivors, huts, and more that can add much more value than just resources.
Floodland takes the basic survival loop well and keeps it simplistic. The problem for me was that it was too simplistic. Yes, there are several resources that I have to take into account, but garbage is the most important. I’ve never seen a significant shortage to keep my makeshift society going.
Early game concerns
Ironically, I call the resource gathering part of Floodland simple, but it’s anything but when one starts a new save. Resources are limited in nature and players will have to progress in a linear fashion. More flexibility in development choices will be more than welcome.
The game did away with the typical path system, a staple of games like Frostpunk. It keeps things simple in one way, but on the other hand, it can make them seem very cluttered. Food and water resources in the beginning should be more and the types of food should be more varied. Yes, I get that the world is lost and that too after a major apocalypse.
However, I refuse to believe that I’ll be living off berries to begin with, and there won’t be more options available to a post-apocalyptic human. Many of these issues resolved themselves as I moved deeper into my save, and the added complexity and challenge felt welcome.
A soft start, however, can create weak impressions in the minds of veterans who have played similar games in the past.
Presentation, sound and graphics
For an indie game, Floodland’s UI is surprisingly polished and defies issues in other areas. While the sound is fine, the UI shines and is an integral part of the title. I often had to spend most of my time in the tech tree or tech circle in this case. A sub-optimal UI could have made things much more complex, so kudos to the developers for doing a great job.
Floodland’s overall presentation and art style are fresh in some ways, but let down by poor optimization. Despite having a 75Hz refresh rate on my monitor and an RTX 3060 GPU, I never exceeded 50-55 FPS no matter how I ran the game.
This is something the developers will improve with future patches. Graphics may not be an integral part of such games, but playing a properly optimized version never hurts.
Floodland reminds me that people won’t change even when the world around them changes. I had to pay as much attention to the laws and whims of my makeshift society as I had to focus on ensuring their survival. The ability to coordinate the needs of different clans provided a unique experience in the genre.
Unfortunately, the optimization seems off even when I’m typing, which ruins my experience. Moreover, I have to catch up with the complexity I would have liked to find in the game. Don’t get me wrong, Floodland is an excellent survival and city builder that ticks a lot of boxes. However, it still has a long way to go to become a memorable name.
Early signs are positive, but developers need to be proactive in today’s times to satisfy players and keep them engaged.
Reviewed on: PC (Review code provided by Vile Monarch Studios)
Developer: Monarch Studios Villas
Release date: November 15, 2022