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The Colonists review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Auroch Digital
Developer: Auroch Digital
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

“Cute” and “adorable” aren’t usually adjectives that can be applied to building games. I mean, if you really stretch it, you could maybe work some of the Lego games in there, but generally speaking, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Tropico, or Cities: Skylines, or SimCity.

Enter The Colonists — quite possible the cutest settlement building I’ve ever come across.

As the game’s name implies, you’re tasked with colonizing an uncharted world, but you’re doing so with a squad of adorable little robots. Whether you’re playing through the campaign or playing around in sandbox mode, the core gameplay doesn’t change, and neither does the cuteness.

Mind you to fully appreciate the cuteness, you need to not think about The Colonists all that deeply. Like, why would self-replicating robots need to go fishing, or raise sheep, or grow vegetable gardens? Would they really need to set up water wells? I get that the underlying story is about robots who are tired of being slaves to humans and yearn to become human themselves, but…why? Even if you don’t want to go full on eco-warrior and say that humans are bad for the earth (to say nothing of the uncomfortable associations with colonization), it still doesn’t make any sense that robots would just copy what humans do when setting up a new, robot-based civilization.

Anyway… probably-missing-the-point rants aside, The Colonists works when you stop thinking about the underlying ideology, and simply build. Or, rather, when you stop thinking about the unclear “why?”, and start thinking about what makes the most sense in terms of creating a new planet that works efficiently. You need to create pathways between your water and your natural resource extraction and your food and your housing, and since you have robots at your disposal rather than humans with their pesky emotions and needs (though, I guess, the robots have a lot of those same needs, between the food and the water and the housing), the game works best when you create pathways that make sense.

To The Colonists’ credit, it does a fairly good job of helping you create your settlements exactly as you want them. It can be a little annoying to place a pathway just so near the end of the fishing pier or the defensive fortifications, but when you take the time to plan things out, it’s still neat to see how it all comes together.

Of course, even in that last paragraph, you have the real world creeping in when you start thinking about defensive fortifications — not to mention the levels where you need to start overtaking the native inhabitants, which adds a whole other, somewhat sinister tinge to the game’s name.

But again: if you simply not think about any of that stuff, then The Colonists is a pretty engaging civilization-builder. You probably shouldn’t focus on the message, but at least you can have your attention focused on the most adorable robots this side of Doomsday Vault.

Auroch Digital provided us with a Colonists Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B+