Aven Colony Preview (Xbox One)

For the purpose of transparency, this preview was completed using a code provided by the game’s publisher. The use of a code does not affect my judgement of this product.

Aven Colony is a city building game brought to you by Mothership Entertainment. You do all the usual things that you do in city building games. You have residents that need looking after. You have resources that need monitoring. There are giant sand worms. Oh yeah, this is a city building game. A city building game set on an alien world.

Aven Colony is set on Aven Prime, an alien planet lights years away from Earth. The aim of the game is to set up shop in this alien environment and expand. You’re not there to merely  survive but to thrive. Starting out everything seems pretty standard. Build a water pump, there isn’t enough water to go around. Build a farm, your people are starving. We need a wind turbine, power is running out. Like I said, nothing new to city building games. Things are different though. Winter is a thing. Every winter all farms halt production so you have to make sure you have enough crops in storage. You can build a greenhouse to help counter that but even they only produce 50% at their usual rate. Same goes for your solar panels. Luckily energy is another resource that can be stored, you just need to build yourself a giant battery. There’s lightning storms that can strike your building causing damage unless you build a Lightening rod. These are all nice little touches that set it apart from the usual city building game. Plus, you know, giant sand worms.

Aven Colony is a great looking game. The visuals have all the colour and excitement you’d want to see on an alien world. From the bright jungle of Vanaar, to the expansive desert of Sandy Gulch, there is always something to catch your eye. The environments feel alive and at times hostile. Strange sounds echo around your colony and creatures fly into view, reminding you that you’re the alien here. The Colony is full of hustle and bustle, zooming right in will allow you to see the individual residents going about their day. One thing they’ll probably be doing is commuting to work. Something that affects their happiness. If they have to travel too far then that makes them sad and the colony’s overall happiness will decrease. There are many things to monitor and crying face emojis are one of them. Other things are food, water, air quality, electricity, crime, and ‘nanites’. Nanites are what you use to build things with. Things like farms or water pumps. Mines or wind turbines. Refugee centres or trade ports. Everything costs a certain amount of nanites. You can get more by completing quests or simply make your own by mining you necessary components.

All buildings are laid out in a lovely little grid system meaning you can make it as neat or chaotic as you desire. If you’re placing a building that gains you a resource the game will tell how productive it will be on that square of the grid allowing you to maximise productivity. You can’t just be throwing building down willy-nilly though. Drones do all the construction and they operate out of a hub. There’s only a certain distance that these drones can travel before they are out of range. If you see a nice pocket of thermal gas in the distance you’ll have to work your way towards it, building more drone stations along the way. No problem right just chuck a few of them down until you reach the resources? Wrong. Every single building has to connect, either to each other or with tubes, these are the roads of space. Who travels down these roads? Commuters. What do commuters hate? Travelling long distances. Now you need to put down some housing along the way to keep the residents happy. All these things need power to run so you have to decide if it’s worth using all this power to make some power.

The control system for Aven Colony is pretty well mapped out for use with a controller. There is a lot going on and starting off it can seem a little overwhelming but the tutorials are excellent. They walk you through it step by step with just the right amount of hand holding. Obviously it can be a little fiddly at times but until consoles start supporting mouse and keyboard it’s something we all have to grin and bear. I put a good couple of hours into the first two levels, Vanaar and Sandy Gulch respectively, and things just start to become natural very quickly. You go from pausing the game every thirty seconds and rotating the screen in the wrong direction to flying around the map at 8x speed in no time.

Overall Aven Colony is an enjoyable game with plenty of life in it. Costing around £25, you can’t even have a decent night out for that amount now a days so why not populate a planet instead. If you’re familiar with the genre then there are plenty of little differences that make it feel fresh. If you’ve never played a city builder before it doesn’t throw you in at the deep end and helps you just long enough without it feeling like someone else is playing it for you. So what are you waiting for, fire up the jet and set a course for Aven. Cultivate the land, dig for resources, and make your colony thrive. Just look out for the locals.

Matt Sanders

Husband, dad, gamer, geek. Lover of angry music and hot pizza.

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