A rough diamond in a very rough patch, that will get better as it’s polished.
Sinking into another somewhat strategy-ish, slash medieval city-builder simulator. Today I’m giving my 10cents worth on a game called Foundation. Being a big lover of strategy and city builder games, you really have to have something unique and different nowadays in order to make it, especially with how spoilt we are for choice with the Anno’s and civilizations titles out there, and with this game there was something fun and different about it. Granted this game is in very…very…VERY early access as you will notice if decide to get it, with images missing from certain in-game notifications, or with the lack of variety of envoys and missions you get at the time of writing this review. But all that aside they are working on something that will really be a well-rounded title, after some serious polish work.
Gameplay and Map and “Story”
Starting off with the story of the game…There is no story…Yet! And I’m not to sure if that is something that will be added down the line, but for now you are pretty much just thrust into a portion of a map, where you then have to start building a flourishing city, taking baby steps in getting there, as you need to manage the needs of your citizens, control the rate of migration to your town/city and making sure they all have enough work and sufficient food/materials in order to make a jolly living for themselves . Like I said earlier, this title is very early access so the focus was on delivering something playable and testable before anything else gets added on, and luckily the game runs well and I haven’t experienced any crashes or game breaking elements. Like with many other city builders, you have to keep track of your citizens general happiness, wants and needs as those factors will retain them or on the flip side look for greener pastures. Although they don’t make it impossible to achieve this, it can sometimes get away from a person a bit, especially after a migration burst that comes with a housing, food and material shortage. That was one of the things that I really enjoyed about this title, the fact that you have to really get down and dirty with your town and know what is happening, keeping control over all the tiny elements, basically micro managing to the max, but not in an annoying way.
Moving onto the Map, now this is one area where this game really shines, so you start off with one territory and initially your surroundings look somewhat spacious until you start zooming out, and zooming out more, and even more, the map transforms into something I cant even explain in words. Although initially it can look quite intimidating, you realise quite quickly that you fill up a territory in no time. The natural growth of your town is also something somewhat out of your control, you will designate zones for residential for example, and where most other games allow you to choose the rotation of your houses, this game makes it the choice of your little lemmings that make the whole machine run, with that you have this AI driven growth, where I love seeing how some of them choose where to place a home and the orientation of the placement, so although you can have a somewhat structured city, the freedom your citizens have in building their homes adds this incredible organic feel to your city, especially when it starts growing.
Other than that they also do make it challenging for you to unlock additional structures for your city, where normally you would research into a certain direction and follow that tech tree route until you can divert to other channels in that tech tree. Here it works completely different, you have to spend some time adding tiny little flares to your buildings, the tiniest add on to your market will gain you certain “influence” which you need “X” amount of influence in order to unlock that structure. But! It doesn’t stop there, on top of that you have to perform certain tasks for the king, clergy or another Noble faction to gain “action points” for lack of a better term, so those 2 elements combined, once accumulated enough of them will allow you to expand the constructible buildings in your city. You will get the occasional event where something bad strikes your city, like heavy rain from the skies, hampering the growth of your crops, so you will need to have enough food stockpiled for the rainy period so your citizens don’t bail on you, that is just one of the smaller elements in the game that had a fun little spin on it, and I’m sure they will expand on this as the game continues to grow. They really give you a ton of freedom with this game, something I really enjoyed, you get to choose where farmers get to plant their crops, where the cows and sheep need to herd, all those little elements which I thought was an awesome little touch. You will also be able to muster up some form of military force, but sadly you have little to no control over them, apart from dispatching them on big missions for the king (that will at least yield you gold and free territories), hopefully they will expand on that somehow and introduce elements where you have a bit more direct control over the military or some campaigns to introduce a fun RTS element, but it is in no way a game or deal breaker when it comes to Foundation.
This is really a fun city manager, with enough tiny elements to keep you entertained in a different way, it has its own unique identity and will definitely easily make a name for itself as a standout game. I have already lost a good couple of weekends playing this, and foresee a whole lot more being dedicated to this game, especially that it is only onward and upward from here as they roll out new updates and content. Because it is still in early access it luckily wont break the bank, and the entertainment value you get for the little money you have to spend made it well worthwhile for me.