Once you get through to day 20 (of ~40) in the main scenario, Frostpunk opens up other alternatives. Instead of starting with nothing, you have a different initial set up, different quests/events, and a different goal. I’ve closed out two of the 3, and they are wildly different.
You start off with a rather simple base, an Automaton, and 4 seed arks that must be kept above cold or it’s game over. You’re limited in the number of people in the city, and the only way to get more automatons is to to exploring. In that sense, this entire scenario is more scientific in nature, and the best choices are the most logical. Get more scouts, increase ability to heat the arks, automate as much as possible.
If you’re able to clear the main scenario, then this one feels like easy mode.
Fall of Winterhome
In the main scenario, around a specific day, you get a visitor from Winterhome that says the city is gone. It also triggers the Londoners arc in the main quest, which is the intro for the Purpose (Faith/Order) laws. The Fall scenario explains what happened to Winterhome. And whooo boy, did it ever happen.
The starting conditions are painful. There are laws that are passed that you can’t revert, half the city is burnt down (and preventing you from building), the other half is poorly designed (freezing, no food), there 3 dozen amputees (no prosthetics), and a few dozen sick people. Oh, and the generator is broken.
So you’re dealt an amazingly poor hand to start, barely enough resources to get things going, and at least a half dozen crises to manage every single day. I tried at least 8 times to get this scenario started properly – and that deals specifically with the best approach to clear the crap and what to research.
I’d like to say that it went well after that. It did not, and I found myself saving every 2 days in game, as a sort of fall back if things just snowballed downhill. Which it did, often.
Eventually you come to realize that there’s no way to fix the generator – it will eventually blow up. You’re tasked with evacuating as many people as possible, but that requires send fuel, food stores, and build quarters to house them. The last one has 4 levels of success, the final 2 being extremely difficult to achieve.
Expeditions are not as useful here as in other scenarios – you’re given quite a few choices to collect or leave things. For example, I made a choice to pick up an automaton, and it didn’t cause massive failure, but I do know it prevented me from getting the best possible outcome.
City building itself takes time, since you’re always starved for resources. There is never a time where everyone has enough heat, or is healthy. You need a ridiculous amount of space to heal people, which either takes engineers or cores. The game makes both of those options nearly impossible. That makes the Faith purpose mandatory so you can get Houses of Healing (fits 10, can be manned by anyone).
There comes a point where you’re just scraping by, things are bad, but not horrible. Then you reach a point where evacuations start and people start freaking out (naturally). You are presented with the best-of-a-bad-situation decision points, where they have massive consequences. You’re pressed to put the needs of the many ahead of the needs of the few, and those decisions are just painful. And everytime you evacuate people, that’s people no longer able to help stabilize the city.
The entire scenario feels like you’re on an out of control train, heading down a mountain, with no brakes, and certain death. You’re job is to get as many people off that train.
When it was all over, I saved 200 people. Nearly 100 people died before evacuation, and another 200 could not be saved. I don’t know if I’d call that winning.
Frostpunk is a stressful game. You’re always trying to think 2-3 steps ahead, and needing to keep dozens of plates spinning at any one time. The game has a knack for continually knocking those plates down. So you’re always adjusting, never quite sure what’s around the next corner.
I can’t see how anyone could “win” a scenario without first “winning” the first 3 nights. Those are make/break milestones and have cascading effects on the rest. That provides a TON of foreknowledge on what the real scenario is within the game.
When looked at comparatively, the Ark and Fall scenarios are just different side of the same coin. Both deal with crisis management, but one deals with science while the other deals with psychology. Heck of a difference…
Agree with your view of the style, and that’s what made me enjoy the game so much. It’s a city builder but instead of the normal relaxed pace, here everything is always coming apart and its a real struggle for survival.
The last few days of the main scenario, with the hyper cold, might have been some of the most stressful yet ultimately satisfying moments in gaming.
Hell yeah. My wife kept looking at me going “why are you playing a game that’s so stressful?”
Was a great feeling coming out of that. Winterhome by comparison didnt feel like winning at all. Guess that was the point.