Stranded: Alien Dawn, we tried the new sci-fi simulation from the authors of Tropico

Stranded: Alien Dawn, we tried the new sci-fi simulation from the authors of Tropico


Regardless of technological and taste evolutions, simulation remains a cornerstone of the videogame industry and has benefited from recent hybridization trends, always knowing how to reinvent with new features. Some teams that have now specialized almost exclusively on this type of games are well aware of this, which flourish and spread especially in the PC field with impressive regularity: Heamimont Games, for example, has practically built a stainless niche in this area, which also includes the here present Stranded: Alien Dawn, which we tested in the preliminary version made available on Steam.

Announced with a trailer from Frontier at Gamescom 2022, as one of the titles that are part of the new initiative of publishing of the British label, the game in question clearly derives from the experience gained by Haemimont on the excellent Surviving Mars, but with several additions applied through that hybridization process that works particularly well with simulations of various types.

We are then faced with a mixture of strategic, management and survival, set in an alien sandbox that enriches hisce all with a very special touch, although the choice of characterization does not center too clearly the science fiction matrix of the whole. The story puts us in control of a group of astronauts who find themselves crashed on the surface of an unknown alien planet, with the need to survive on the little they have available and what - as it turns out - the new world has to offer. .

A new wild world

Stranded: Alien Dawn, an image of the initial situation after the crash We start with four survivors on a seemingly virgin planet, strangely reminiscent of Sierra Nevada or otherwise landscapes that are all too similar to terrestrial views, but this is certainly useful to immediately understand where it is possible to draw the right resources for survival. In no time at all, as soon as we come out of the wreck of the shuttle we immediately find ourselves making wood and building shacks and fences, falling precisely into the most classic canon of the survival sandbox. Perhaps all too precisely: the alien setting does not "emerge" from the game action up to the slightly more advanced parts, with the need to first go through the decidedly classic phases for this type of games. In the tested part there is practically no narrative support and it is only a matter of making the protagonists survive and lead them, progressively, to the discovery of the new world, as befits a hard and pure simulation.

A peculiarity of Stranded: Alien Dawn is the fact of proposing characters with their own personalities and specific characteristics, with the possibility of choosing their own starting team of four elements from a good assortment of different figures. This is an apparently marginal element, but which then assumes great importance in the development of the game, because the basic statistics of each, in addition to the personal aspirations and inclinations to learn in certain areas, are fundamental to assigning each their own tasks and to be able to build a team that is as cohesive and balanced as possible. There are those who are more inclined to combat, others to construction, research, crafting or cultivation, but each also demonstrates specific interests in each of these fields, allowing various assortments of survivors that lead to different effects.

Exploration, construction and research

Stranded: Alien Dawn, at first glance it is not easy to distinguish the alien elements The first steps take place immediately next to the wreck of the shuttle and it is starting from this, after a first moment of upheaval for the group, that we begin the work of gathering resources, putting together food rations, medical kits, still usable tools and pieces of metal. A few meters from the still burning hull we find ourselves building the first makeshift shelters to face the night, given that time passes inexorably and the survivors have physiological needs to satisfy, starting from the need to eat and sleep to get to more specifically related needs. to personal satisfaction and psychological well-being. After building huts and bedding, bonfires to warm up and cook food, you can start to expand your range a bit and aim for longer-term survival, so it becomes essential to start looking around.

Although the surrounding nature seems largely terrestrial - an element that is a bit doubtful, considering the premise of the game - fauna and flora are obviously alien and require observation sessions to be fully understood.

Stranded: Alien Dawn leads us to organize a sustainable agricultural system It then becomes essential to send the characters to study the new species, in order to derive any advantages from them, as regards culinary use or building materials . Through the classic arrangement of workbenches and research tables, we can start the technological evolution of the group, which is set to become a new micro-civilization on the alien planet, even if obviously the road ahead is still long and survival is nothing. by no means taken for granted, also considering the aggressiveness that characterizes the local fauna. The trial version does not yet present particular twists or a real narrative progression, so the scale of the experience still appears rather limited to pure survival, but once the most advanced technological construction is triggered and the most extensive crops are is starting to deal with a broader simulation.

All-round survival

Stranded: Alien Dawn, technological advances happen gradually The profound, almost scientific, which Haemimont Games has imposed on Stranded: Alien Dawn, leaving very little or nothing to chance, starting with the management of individual characters. The abilities and tendencies of these lead to specific actions and reactions that make sense within the situations in which they find themselves, also because everyone must still follow a semi-automatic physiological cycle of nutrition and rest, in addition to the imposed activities. by the player which may be more or less appreciated and result in different levels of effectiveness of the actions. In addition to physical health, in short, there is also to keep up with the mental health of the survivors and try to keep the group cohesive to cope together with the threats of the surrounding environment.

These also include real fighting : the standard activities between research, crafting and construction are often interspersed with moments of tighter action, in which the game becomes a real strategy in real time. In these cases we have to arm the characters adequately (possibly by carrying out research and building increasingly powerful tools) and launch them into combat by controlling their movements and selecting the enemies to hit in a semi-automatic way. The clashes at the moment do not seem particularly exciting, with an all too mechanical and flat course of the battle, but considering the alien setting it is possible that much more stimulating and varied elements will emerge in the near future.

Little extra and very terrestrial?

Stranded: Alien Dawn, a somewhat alien and a little not landscape Although the genre does not usually need great means in terms of graphic representation, Stranded: Alien Dawn is staged with great care, demonstrating how Haemimont Games is focusing a lot on this project. Scenarios, structures and characters are very detailed, even more than what would perhaps be necessary for a game of this type, presenting themselves in an optimal way both in the widest views, with the distant view, and zooming to the maximum to frame the scenes closely. Even the interface always appears very clear and manages to summarize a large amount of information in the smallest possible space, making complex and layered management like the one proposed in this game quite practical, beyond some questionable choice such as the combined use of mouse and keyboard for moving the frame, however modifiable through the options.

As already mentioned above, the doubtful element on the aesthetic front is mainly linked to the choice of staging settings that seem to have little of "alien". Rocky conformations and vegetation give back panoramas that are very close to terrestrial ones, something that is also emphasized by an insistence on situations that are not particularly linked to science fiction themes. This may have to do with a quest for realism in the simulation, but it ends up making the game lose its identity, which is rather strange even seeing Haemimont's previous productions such as Tropico and Surviving Mars.

The starting idea on which Stranded: Alien Dawn is built is very interesting and the mixture of features between simulation, survival, sandbox and management appears well thought out and balanced. There is a considerable depth in the possibilities of control over the actions of the survivors on the alien planet, starting from the characteristics of the individual characters to arrive at the macro-management of the small evolving civilization, although some aspects (such as the combat system) must still be a little refined. A bit striking is the lack of a specific identity for a game that starts from such an original premise, moreover from developers who have already shown that they can build very particular solutions on well-established structures, but Stranded: Alien Dawn is still a special guard. , especially for fans of this genre.


The basic idea of ​​survivors in an alien world is very interesting The mix of genres is generally well blended Interface and graphics rather clear DOUBTS There is a certain lack of general charisma, also given by the not very "alien" aspect. Not very exciting fights. Interesting but (at the moment) the physiological cycle of the characters is marginal. Have you noticed any errors?

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