A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Running themes include community, survival, and sacrifice. Players are rewarded for thoughtful management and are encouraged to make practical, utilitarian choices for the greater good of their colonists.
Positive Role Models
The tiny colonists don't have much in the way of individual personalities, but as a group they cooperate, help and defend one another, and generally work for the betterment of the community.
The colonists range in age, gender, and race without falling into stereotypes.
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Ease of Play
Players choose from a variety of starting parameters -- level of world-altering calamities, availability of resources, etc. -- that can make survival easier or more difficult. Optional tutorials and tips can be switched on and off. There's plenty to learn, especially for genre newcomers, but new elements are introduced gradually.
Violence & Scariness
Colonists get attacked by bandits and mutated animals, and can also die of various natural disasters and maladies. Colonists defend themselves using melee weapons, guns, and explosives. Action's viewed from a raised perspective, and there's no blood or gore, but those who perish lie where they fall until a body disposal crew collects their corpses.
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Products & Purchases
Players can purchase additional content -- viewable from within the game's main menu -- that enhances certain aspects of the game, such as communities that can become allies and rivals.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Surviving the Aftermath is a downloadable strategy management game for Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. It casts players as the leader of a colony of people who have survived a catastrophic event that has left the world in ruins. Under your management and according to your decisions, the colonists cooperate with and help one another on various scavenging and building projects to create a happy, healthy community with housing, crops, water, and medicine. Unfortunately, they will sometimes be beset by bandits (they fight back with various melee and projectile weapons if they can), struck by disease, or fall unlucky victim to natural disasters. These events can leave colonists sick, injured, or dead. The action's viewed from a raised three-quarters perspective, and there's no blood or gore, though dead bodies can lie on ground for days as they await disposal. Note that post-release content designed to enhance the survival simulation can be purchased for a small fee.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.