Given the current state of the world, yet another apocalypse-oriented video game might seem either keenly appropriate or like it hits too close to home, but Endzone offers a lot beyond its topic. This strategy title blends classic City Builder tactics with Survival themes and RTS-oriented mechanics, and challenges players to keep their survivors alive in a world full of danger. Published on April 2nd, 2020, from Gentlymad Studios, Endzone – A World Apart offers players multiple options on playstyle and objectives, but does anything help it stand apart from the plethora of post-apocalyptic survival titles already on Steam?
The year is 2021 – terrifyingly close to our pandemic-riddled world – and players are greeted with an optional, extensive tutorial that is essential for quickly learning all the different buildings in this apocalyptic City Builder Sim. The voice acting is exceptional, and the steps are intuitive. Your compound begins with a bus – yep, your new civilization is built around a single bus that has served as their haven while they searched for fertile land. With over 50 different kinds of buildings, the tutorial is a great overview of all your options. Want a fishing village that focuses on pulling food out of the water? Done! Want to have huge farmlands and people focused on growing, harvesting, and maintaining a variety crops? Awesome! Would you prefer a hunting lodge with hunters skilled at going out and finding game? You got it. Prefer gatherers, who forage for the bulk of their supplies? Cool… but you’ll probably be a hungry crew!
Your survivors need fertile land, and the radiation levels in the soil can present a challenge depending on where you have decided to settle. You can remove a lot of these levels – but just like the dynamic rain and weather system, the variables can change, and at the worst possible time. Water becomes critical, and you’ll need to keep settlers assigned to that chore, even if you build wells (who require a settler to maintain each one). That is the other fun dynamic in Endzone: you can micromanage your settlers, assigning several people to specific roles. Certain buildings require a minimum number of settlers to function; some roles only need one settler to exist, but can allow for additional helpers if you have survivors to spare. You can adjust these divisions of labour constantly, shuffling builders over to water carrying, or focusing on fishing if your rain levels are low and your crops are stunted. Managing your community is a mini-game in and of itself and lends a lot of challenge to Endzone especially in certain scenarios.
Another area of versatility in Endzone is the option of open play, where your only goal is to survive and even thrive, or specific scenarios that have set challenges. Each has its own set of pros and cons, and both are super challenging depending on the randomized events in the game. The dynamic element means each play-through is different, and a thriving community can suddenly be presented with a huge challenge that they might overcome – or might not. Housing for your survivors is a big part of managing your community, and unfortunately, your settlers are concerned with things like curb appeal as well as adequate shelter. The community grows organically as the survivors pair-up and have kids, and you also are responsible for older settlers who aren’t doing as much work as their more youthful counterparts, much like children can’t help until they mature. If you build their cabins in an undesirable location, you will end up with dissatisfied settlers. Small mechanics like these build up quickly, making the player manage a vast assortment of mechanics beyond the sheer logistics of basic survival.
As your settlement starts to flourish, you can begin researching more advanced buildings, make your people happy with “quality of life” improvements like a graveyard for mourning their dead, and other non-essential but still valuable upgrades. Each month, the game receives a themed update, which adds new elements to the game, which is still in Early Access on Steam. With an active Discord server and a helpful community, Endzone has a transparent roadmap from the Devs so players can eagerly await new content and see what is coming next.
One area of frequent complaint in the community, however, is that very minor, randomized events can cost you a successful settlement. Repeated droughts, surges in radiation, and other dynamic events can feel unbalanced in the level of devastation, and the difficulty in recovering afterwards. Saving and saving often is critical, especially as Endzone continues in development and gains balancing updates and patches. However, there are numerous settings to adjust the base difficulty in the game, and players can choose to outright disable – or massively reduce – these devastating occurrences, changing the challenge to suit their personal tastes.
Endzone is a surprisingly addictive, incredibly complex City Builder Sim that feels like a cautionary tale during our pandemic real-life world. Frequent developer notes and engagement make it feel like a solid investment in Early Access, a dynamic on Steam that makes many players hesitant to pull the plug and purchase a title that’s still in open development. The ability to choose between open play and scenario lends excellent replay value, and the ability to customize your difficulty level is critical for making a video game that can be enjoyed by a variety of gamer types. The graphics are clean and well-detailed, the voice acting is superb, and the community is active and well-engaged.
If you enjoy City Builders, RTS-Simulation hybrids, or the post-apocalyptic theme, Endzone is a rewarding, engaging option for your library. Currently priced at $23.99 U.S.D., Endzone offers great value in terms of dollar amount versus gameplay volume, and the ongoing updates bringing new dynamics into the world make it worthy of picking up, putting down, and picking back up again down the road once new features have been added. Endzone will challenge you, and likely leave you hooked after the tutorial alone, but you can always dial back the difficulty if you want to enjoy your settlement of survivors struggling to thrive in this unforgiving world. The storyline is typical of a post-apocalyptic world, and though it isn’t incredibly original or innovative, there are plenty of other themes and elements in Endzone to keep players hooked and wanting more.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Endzone - A World Apart Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
Endzone is a rewarding, engaging option for your library and offers great value in terms of dollar amount versus gameplay volume, and the ongoing updates bringing new dynamics into the world make it worthy of picking up.