Genre: Strategy, Education, Simulation
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, Windows)
Developers | Publishers: Denki | Curve Digital
Age Rating: US E | EU 3+
Price: US $19.99 | UK £15.99 | EU € 19,99
Release Date: June 16th, 2022
Review code used, with many thanks to Curve Digital.
Autonauts is an addictive simulation game previously released on Steam by Curve Digital and developers Denki. Now it’s time for the Nintendo Switch to play host to the game.
The game’s premise is simple: hop in your spaceship and take off to colonise new worlds; that’s about it for a storyline. After landing alone on an unspoiled planet, your task is to build a thriving civilisation. Unfortunately for you, you’re without tools, and the only company you have is OTTO-0, a talking droid who will guide you on this strange planet.
You’ll need help to colonise the world, and that help comes in the shape of robots or bots. Bots that you will build yourself out of wood, stone and a pine cone. Who knew bots were made of such things. But first, you need an axe, then a spade, and then a crude workbench is needed, and the list keeps growing.
But not to worry, once you have built a few more bots and programmed some actions into their brains, they will take care of everything while you oversee their work.
Autonauts is a game about making bots, programming them to do numerous tasks and automating everything. Why do you need automation, you may ask? Well, that’s to ensure you keep the needs of the colony of humans supplied with all they require. So supply the colonists with the best of everything possible, and they will give you Wuv in abundance, which allows you to research and unlock new recipes, structures and more functionality.
The game gives you all you need to get started in the way of a comprehensive tutorial. Then you’re taught how to use blueprints to construct a small forestry industry, quarry and more. The tutorial also explains how to program a robot to do your bidding.
It has a degree of complexity, but it walks you through the basics pretty well. So, to program the brain of a bot, you get its attention by blowing your whistle, and then you perform the task while the bot watches and records your movements. Set the bots area of work, give it a tool if it needs one, and off it goes to work.
Changing a bots program is also pretty easy once you get the hang of it. You use blocks of words with which you build your instructions, such as Take, Repeat, Use and Move. All the instructions are customisable, which I liked and they enable some detailed and repetitive actions to be undertaken by the bots. Ultimately, you’ll keep the ever-growing colony of humans supplied with increasingly complex bot automation.
Autonauts is a lot of fun and deeply satisfying, as long as you accept that you need to automate everything, and I mean everything, right down to the easiest task of chopping wood. In addition, you can have up to a few hundred bots hard at work; watching them work together as they chop down trees, plant new ones, convert logs into planks, and store them on pallets is quite a satisfying sight to see.
Different Modes of Play
The later chapters of the game can get complicated quickly, especially once you have many bots at work. I found it difficult to have bots travel to areas and gather and unload their supplies elsewhere. Sometimes it seemed as if the bots had a mind of their own, but I soon got the hang of it all. Though on the plus side, the learning curve is handled very well as it’s never boring, nor does it leave you not knowing how to proceed.
Autonauts has a few different modes to try out. First, Settlement mode is where you will learn the ropes of the game. Then Creative mode and in Free mode, you can let your imagination loose and build a kingdom of bots to help the colonists.
Visuals and Controls
Spiralling to-do lists aside, the game is presented in a low-poly art style that is bright and colourful. The music is upbeat and the sound effects all add to the game.
Now we come to the controls, I’d love to tell you they work exceptionally well on the Switch but unfortunately. they don’t. I found the controls to be fiddly and unintuitive, to say the least. I fumbled and pressed the wrong buttons constantly and it ruined my enjoyment of the game. While you are programming a bot to do your bidding the screen becomes bogged down with clutter and it makes it hard to see what you are doing.
Autonauts is packed with adorable animations and a deceptively simple premise. Controls could be better on the Switch, as I do think they let the game down. Apart from the controls, the game premise and execution of the tutorial are well done. The game is enjoyable, with plenty to keep you up until the wee hours of the morning, commanding your bots to craft and build the colony of your dreams.
Final Verdict: I Like It A Lot