Early Access preview code used, with many thanks to BetterGaming PR.
Scorchlands is a new hex grid-based colony simulation out in Early Access on Steam. Developed by Ringlab and published by Star Drifters.
The bird folk of Giwi are curious explorers and have discovered the volcanic satellite Helia, which is filled with resources. The Giwi are also magical creatures and must use their magic to fend off predators and sustain their economy with mysterious lasers.
So, it’s up to you as Grand Commander of the Helia moon research expedition; with the help of your sidekick Patrick, one of the Giwi, you’ll construct various buildings in colonies on Helia to extract resources. The core gameplay in Scorchlands is about harvesting resources and delivering them to the right place for processing. In ways, it is similar to Factorio. Your ultimate goal is to fuel a gigantic structure called the Nexus to save Giwi’s home planet.
Playing on a hex-shaped map, you set up a city beside a Stone Spire and start by placing some buildings to gather resources. Each building’s productivity depends on its neighbouring resource, and you get adjacency bonuses from other buildings. You’ll gather stones to make tablets used to research new tech and magic.
Unlike other simulation games in the same vein, Scorchlands does something different when moving resources between your colonies. You use lasers and mirrors; yep, you read that right.
Use Lasers to Move Resources
At first, you build lasers in each colony. Once a laser is positioned in a colony, you place a few mirrors. Then, aligning the mirrors to catch the laser beam, you position it to hit the laser in another colony to move resources between your colonies. It’s a neat and unique system for moving resources.
Of course, like any good building game, you must research new technologies for progression, and new discoveries will open up.
There is also turn-based combat in Scorchlands, though the combat is minimalist at this stage. First, you must strategically flank the enemy using your avatar Patrick and a few Giwi. Then, by reducing their field of influence, you can get close enough to take over their area by destroying the crystal they are guarding. Once you destroy the crystal, you can build a new colony in its place.
While the combat is there, it feels like an afterthought at this stage and needs to be expanded as it has potential. However, since Scorchlands is in Early Access, the game is constantly being updated by the developers, so expect things to change.
In addition, you can also Terraform the planet for the greater good and grow your colonies. You change the biomes on the procedurally generated maps using magic and technology. The terraforming is fun and implemented well in the game, allowing you to exploit the environment to gain unique resources.
Scorchlands is looking promising in its early access stage. It performed smoothly on my laptop and didn’t crash during gameplay. However, a few things, like the UI and the design of the buildings, could be improved.
For instance, the buildings start to look the same after a while, especially when your colony grows. There are primarily white, and it can be hard to distinguish one building from another. Adding a few different colours to the buildings would make them stand out better and be easier recognised by the player.
The toolbar menu icons can be confusing when finding a building to construct. Furthermore, the icons are numbered; they would be more player friendly if they had images on them instead of being numbered.
Scorchlands is a game about balancing resources, designing cities and production chains and combat. Playing it becomes addictive quickly, and you can spend hours immersed in your colonies.
The developers have future plans in place to add to the gameplay for the Early Access Scorchlands. New biomes, new resource buildings and independent colonies are planned for the game’s development.
You can check out Scorchlands Steam page here.