Frostpunk: The Last Autumn

Game review by
Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media
Frostpunk: The Last Autumn Game Poster Image
Hard expansion prequel tests pre-apocalypse strategy skills.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Occasional moments of hope that pop up during play or as a result of actions you do to keep your citizens motivated, but this is a bleak prequel to main game where you're fighting seemingly impossible odds to keep humanity alive.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You essentially play yourself, a nameless administrator trying to build and run this colony as best as you can, hopefully reaching milestones while making extremely difficult decisions that can be life or death for your citizens.

Ease of Play

Original FrostPunk game was particularly difficult because you had to juggle a lot of tasks at once, relying on luck to be successful. The Last Autumn changes almost every game mechanic from the basic game, so you have to relearn virtually every feature while still being under immense time pressure to succeed.

Violence

No gore or blood is shown, but still shots refer to injured, maimed, or dead citizens. Bloodstained sheets are sometimes shown in relation to medical clinics. Players can build fighting arenas to release tension and motivate the population.

Sex

Players can turn a pub into a brothel. No sex or nudity is shown, but this is used as a tactic to motivate your workers. Sex is sometimes referred to during random events.

Language

"F--k" appears in written text.

Consumerism

Expansion to 2019's Frostpunk, which is required to play.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Players can build pubs to make the colony citizens happy.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Frostpunk: The Last Autumn is a downloadable strategy game for Windows PCs. The game is an expansion pack to 2019's Frostpunk game and is designed to be a prequel that's set before the world has completely frozen over. As a result, all of the game mechanics that players may be used to in the original are almost completely redesigned with new buildings, new objectives, and new recruiting tactics. This effectively requires you to relearn the game on the fly while still trying to successfully build your colony. This increased difficulty could possibly frustrate players. While there isn't any blood or gore shown, bloody events, like injuries or accidents that maim workers, are frequently discussed, and players can also build fighting arenas to lower tensions among workers. Similarly, players can build pubs to give workers drinks and make them happy, and can even turn pubs into brothels to motivate workers. While no sex or nudity is shown, it's sometimes referred to during random events.

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What's it about?

FROSTPUNK: THE LAST AUTUMN is the latest expansion to the challenging strategy game that's set on an Earth that's frozen completely solid. The original game tasks players with helping the last of the planet's inhabitants survive in extreme conditions. But instead of having to defend your colony against new environmental hazards in the wasteland, Autumn is a prequel that takes place before the snow has started falling at a location known as Site 113. Players take the role of a British administrator tasked with leading a group of workers and engineers to the location to try to build a generator, which is a massive structure designed to provide enough heat to keep survivors alive through brutally cold temperatures. The expansion comes with a completely new tech tree to research and exploit, as well as 25 new buildings, such as docks to restock your resources and a telegraph station to import additional workers. Players will also have to be concerned about new hazards, such as slipping behind schedule, working conditions that could lead to strikes across the colony, and even toxic gas that can kill workers. Not only do you have to ensure that this site works, you have to be sure it'll be ready for survivors, because the winter and the frost will wait for no one.

Is it any good?

Most expansions build on the gameplay of the original title to enhance the story, but this one tosses everything you know out for a prequel scenario that's as challenging and engaging as the original. Frostpunk: The Last Autumn is intentionally set before the events of the original, which turns the format upside down. Perhaps the largest change is that the world isn't frozen, so your workers won't immediately die from exposure or lack of heat. There's also a large amount of resources that are available, because you have access to fishing grounds as well as docks that you can dedicate to specific resources that are delivered on a regular basis every day. Even better, you can send telegraphs back to England and get new workers, scientists, and steam cores delivered to your work site. There are so many new game elements and play features, it feels like a fully fleshed out sequel than extra content, one that will take time to learn and master.

But don't think that this game is any easier. In fact, The Last Autumn may be just as hard, if not harder, than the original game. Players are constantly trying to balance the motivation and the discontent of the workers at the site, because if they don't feel like working, progress slows to a crawl. If they're not happy, they may strike. If they're not careful, they'll injure each other or die in work accidents. What's more, you're constantly up against the wall with imposed milestones for your generator's development, and each phase of its construction is packed with hazards and pitfalls designed to ruin your progress. The difficulty level is extremely high and demands perfect placement of structures, micromanagement of people and resources, and a massive amount of luck to avoid problems that seem to come out of nowhere. That can be infuriating to virtually anyone but the most dedicated strategy fan. But for people looking for a hard-core challenge of their strategy skills, The Last Autumn won't leave you out in the cold.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Frostpunk: The Last Autumn affected by the fact that it's only spoken of and shown in abstract terms? Would the impact be intensified if the visuals were shown, and were as graphic as the descriptions indicate?

  • Which sacrifices are OK to make, and which aren't? Why? Do some circumstances imply the need for more sacrifice than others?

  • How does being exposed to so much loss make you desensitized to it? How can you pull yourself back from the brink of emotional overload, and why might it be in other people's best interests to help share that responsibility? 

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $16.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: 11-Bit Studios
  • Release date: January 21, 2020
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Topics: Adventures, Science and Nature
  • ESRB rating: M for Blood, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Violence
  • Last updated: March 2, 2020

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