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Aven Colony Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Aven Colony is a game that manages to scratch that SimCity itch while still offering something new. This game is not only incredibly easy to learn and fun to play, but it's quick and painless with a controller. As somebody who went in a bit skeptical, I'm thoroughly impressed by the effortless execution and lengthy adventure. There are a few performance issues here and there, but don't let that keep you from setting up your own colony on Aven Prime. Rating: 78%
Aven Colony
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
When I heard the premise of Aven Colony, I'll admit that I was skeptical. I mean, sure, the idea of SimCity on an alien planet sounds tempting, but there are a thousand ways this could go all kinds of wrong. It's that little tinge of concern I get every time I hear a game like this is coming to a console. So with fears that the mechanics weren't going to translate well to my controller, I went in hoping for the best. And let me tell you, there was no need to be concerned, because Team 17's newest sci-fi epic is an expertly crafted simulation that is easy to play on all platforms.

This is the story of Aven Prime, an alien planet filled with desert wastelands, icy tundras and lush jungles. You play the leader of humanity's first extrasolar settlement, which means that it's up to you to figure out how to not only keep your crew alive, but come up with a way to sustain life and grow your community. I hesitate to call it SimCity meets The Martian, but let's be honest, that's exactly what it is.


While not exactly like the old Maxis game, Aven Colony uses a lot of the same principles. You'll have to generate power, keep the water flowing, fight crime and try to attempt to balance what the city wants with what the city needs. Of course, since this is an alien planet, things don't always play out like SimCity. You'll need to devote a lot of time to researching technology, investigating the strange surroundings and trading with other colonies. Oh, and you'll have to avoid aliens destroying your city.

Like I said at the top, this is a killer idea. You don't have to ask me if I want to play a game where I colonize a different planet, because of course I do. But I've played a lot of simulators that end getting a little too hung-up in the minutia. Thankfully, Aven Colony doesn't fall into that trap. It only took two incredibly short tutorials to get me fully up to speed on how to play. And while I wasn't a pro the first time out, I was genuinely surprised by how quickly I got the hang of city planning.

It helps that the gameplay actually makes sense. The building menu is a wheel made up of 14 different categories, including residential, water extraction, drone management, farming, service-related structures and more. What I like is that the menu doesn't go much deeper than that. When you select a category, you see every structure you can build. You don't have to dig through one sub-category after another, because it's all cleanly laid out and easy to memorize. Best of all, it's fast and it works exactly like it should, even on a gamepad.

Aven Colony (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Part of the reason it never feels overwhelming is because you're constantly given small tasks to complete. This actually goes a long way to help ease players into the different responsibilities as colony leader. They'll remind you to mine for minerals, set up farms and expand to neighboring energy sources. These missions also play into the overall story, which sees our crew trying to figure out the mysteries of Aven Prime.

What I like is that each location requires a different strategy. For example, the snowy stages offer little in the way of fertile land for farming, while the jungle next to the giant lake is woefully short on mining resources. You'll also have to deal with aliens and airborne diseases. And don't forget that winter comes every year, which makes it hard to grow crops and collect solar energy. There comes a point where it becomes a juggling act where you're constantly trying to keep the air fresh, people employed, the tunnels working and the whole city from blowing up. The story missions may help ease you into playing the game, but don't take that to mean that Aven Colony is a stress-free ride.

I know I've mentioned it already, but what impresses me the most is how everything works exactly like it should. It's the small details that make all the difference, like how the game will show you the exact location of the problem or offer a solution after an especially rough ice storm. I like that when you click on a building it brings up everything you need in a simple and concise way, especially when it comes to upgrading and hiring. There are a lot of smart choices on display here, and developers of this style of simulator can learn a lot from Aven Colony.

Aven Colony (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

My only real complaint is that the game's performance can be a tad unstable at times. I noticed that after I had constructed a bunch of buildings, the game would drop frames from time to time. This never impacted the gameplay, but it's certainly noticeable. There are points where it feels like the game is chugging along in a mad attempt to keep up, which is a little disappointing. That said, I think the graphics look great and it's fun to watch the drones build the different structures.

Aven Colony is a game that manages to scratch that SimCity itch while still offering something new. This game is not only incredibly easy to learn and fun to play, but it's quick and painless with a controller. As somebody who went in a bit skeptical, I'm thoroughly impressed by the effortless execution and lengthy adventure. There are a few performance issues here and there, but don't let that keep you from setting up your own colony on Aven Prime.
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