Have you ever wanted to colonise an alien planet? Chances are that it’s never going to happen in our lifetimes so the closest we’re ever going to get is in games. Unclaimed World takes a set of colonists and strands them on a planet having lost most of their technology and challenges you to help them survive and flourish without doing too much damage to the new world.
Rather than take the normal strategy route and have your colonists meet and fight an alien invader or menace Unclaimed takes a probably more realistic tack and has the enemy be the environment of the planet itself in a universe with no FTL and so no backup. The colonists are the invaders and you have to survive and thrive in an unexpected and unfamiliar environment. At the moment there are two story scenarios – one a tutorial and one that puts the colonists on an island in conflict with animals called Twinklers. There are also two sandbox maps – one that involves you building a medieval tech level community and one that has you lead a team of scientists into an unexplored biome.
Despite the alien background story there is little high technology and the setting could as easily be an altered Earth. If anything this is a positive thing as it makes the game a simulator rather than an adversarial fight. Learning and development rather than explosions.
The game is currently in Early Access and has been available since April 2014. The developers do not have a specific date that they plan to exit it but instead have a list of features which they will be adding. At the time of writing they have managed to add in around half those features and seem to be making steady if not fast progress.
The developers have also promised that the cost includes any future DLCs.
About Developer: Refactored Games
Refactored games was formed in 2008 by Danish brothers Lars Pedersen (lead programmer) and Morten Pedersen (art direction). They went full time in summer 2012 and got funding via the Nordic Game program and have had between 2 and 6 staff working full time. Their first game is Unclaimed world.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
Unclaimed is a thought provoking simulation for adults who prefer a game that will make them consider issues rather than go for as many explosions as possible. Game play largely consists of telling individual colonists what to do and trying to affect the group as a whole rather than the traditional “God mode” most strategy games offer. The menu system feeds back your results.
There is combat but only with the fauna and flora and it is not graphic being represented by tiny pixellated images and stats.
Manual save is available at any point and it is possible to have multiple save games in multiple scenarios at once giving you the option to try multiple things without penalty. The save game function does not seem to be implemented perfectly and takes around 30 seconds to a minute to function and crashed the game for me a couple of times.
Unclaimed can also be paused at any point and combined with it’s low system requirements and the programs willingness to let me tab into and out of it I found it a great game to keep running in the background and dip into whenever I had a few minutes to play.
Unclaimed has a somewhat ergonomic design and can be played with a single mouse pointer only. There is no native keyboard support but it could be adapted to a switch system with a small amount of work.
The game is a menu driven point and click that rarely needs quick reactions and rewards those who prefer a slow dissection of the options available. The menu system is extensive and while reasonably laid out could do with a little work from a UI designer. In general it has light text on a dark but not black background and is a little small. The considered pace of the game allows for careful clicking and reading and Unclaimed can be paused at any point.
Environment & People
We have little information on Refactor’s development process but they probably follow standard practices that are not particularly focused on sustainability or ethics.
The game itself has a decidedly environmental theme and emphasises working with and diverting the environment for your own needs rather than trying to go against it. It does not preach at you or try and venerate the environment just tries to emphasises that it is important and significant in everything you do.
The cost of Unclaimed is standard for early access indie titles. At the moment the game only includes 4 scenarios – one of which is the tutorial but two are open ended sandboxes with more promised with no extra cost. If you play through every scenario once and never come back there are at least 10 to 12 hours here – that’s reasonable value.
Players: Single Player
No controller support
Language: English Interface
PEGI /ESRB rating: Unrated
Platform: PC (Windows/Steam) Early Access
Unclaimed has a relatively low minimum system requirements – Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 a DirectX 10 capable graphics card and 280 MB available space
Some games start off with a bang and get your attention instantly whether with impressive graphics or cut sequences of immediately addictive gameplay. Unclaimed World starts off very gently and eases you into the idea of trying to gently alter what the group does and sucking you in. The end result is an interesting and novel game that aims to make you think and often succeeds. The game is still in Early Access and still has some rough edges – notably the still to be developed scenarios and the save game issues but if resolved this could be an fun and educational title. For now after playing through the fixed scenarios and experimenting with the sandboxes I’m left wanting more. I’d recommend most wait until Unclaimed is finished but there’s a good smart game here waiting to hatch.
Product: Unclaimed World| Developer: Refactored Games| Publisher: Refactored Games | Platform: PC Windows | Genre: Sandbox, strategy, educational | Language: English | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | Release Date/Last Update: Released 26 March 2014, Update August 2015|Content Rating: not rated
The review is based on the Early Access Unclaimed world kindly provided by Refactored Games. First published on 2 November 2015