Anyone who reckons themselves a wise leader and savvy survivalist is in for a rude awakening here. Surviving the Aftermath starts off easy enough, with your little band of colonists casually walking around gathering wood, digging wells, and building tents. Survival appears to be strenuous, though not particularly difficult, work. But as you'll soon learn, you're never more than a single disaster away from your community collapsing. A plague could decimate your population in a matter of days if you don't have proper medical facilities, debris falling from the sky could wipe out half of the houses you've built, or depraved bandits could target your town for a raid. Paid downloadable content can add even tougher challenges, like a rival encampment that takes advantage of the unrest sowed when you ignore survivors' needs -- though you can combat this to a degree by sending specialists on covert operations, eventually creating a federation that solidifies your influence and control. Whatever you do, it's all but impossible to defend everyone under your stewardship from every possible threat. That means you need to make the best decisions you can with the information and resources available, knowing full well that it's only a matter of time before some calamity leaves your community's roads filled with dead and dying citizens.
Some of the game's most interesting moments come when you're forced to make surprisingly personal decisions. Will you welcome newcomers, even if you don't currently have enough housing for them? Will you indulge an unhinged colonist's belief that he stirred vengeful spirits in one of the houses he scavenged? Will you punish the community's fun-starved kids for stealing much-needed resources to build a fort? These choices have consequences that could impact the camp's fortunes. More than that, they combine to form a picture of who you are as a leader, what risks you'll take to protect your people, and what shenanigans you'll allow to take place to increase the camp's livability and happiness. This isn't the type of simulation game that overwhelms players with technologies to learn and structures to build, but rather is more concerned with creating an organic and dynamic narrative in which you feel connected with your little band of survivors as they experience various trials and tribulations while you do your best to rebuild a civilization founded on determination amid inevitable compromise. Surviving the Aftermath tells players the apocalypse isn't something to fantasize about, but with prudent decision making some people might just be able to live through it.