Clockwork Empires

Clockwork Empires

Clockwork Empires is a colony building sim with a unique flair. Rather than being purely historical, it has a steampunk-like setting. Supplies and immigrants are delivered by airship rather than boats, defend your colony against fearsome fishmen, and keep people happy and hope they don't start joining dark cults. At the time of this writing, there were two areas to pick from to start a colony. One option has Aspen Forest, Grassland, High Prairie, and Conifer Forest biomes, while the other has tropical forests, Savannah, and Tropical Swamp biomes. Each area has its own wildlife to hunt. The first option has Dodos and buffalo-like creatures called Aurochs. The second has jungle fowl and giant beetles. Each option has slightly different crops to grow as well. No matter which setting is chosen, you'll run the risk of being attacked by the fish people.

The colonists themselves are very interesting compared to other games of a similar nature. While some games treat people as an expendable resource, they are at the heart of Clockwork Empires. When you click on a colonist, you will see their name followed by other pertinent pieces of information, such as whether they are an overseer or a laborer. You can see memories, traits, what they are currently working on, and any afflictions they might have. Highlighting some of these will give you more information. Memories might tell you they recently talked to someone about murder, or highlighting a trait may reveal them to be a craven coward. Last but not least, you can read about each individual person and find out why they came to the colonies. These little touches add a bit to the immersion factor. Do watch those colonist that start talking about the occult. You may find strange plants growing on the farms among other things. If you notice one being too unruly, mark them for frontier justice and one of your men will execute them.

You start off with a few colonists and some basic supplies strewn about. Only your immediate area will be visible and as people work closer to the darkened areas, the blocked off areas expand. Colonists can be ordered to explore and will travel to waypoints you've set up for them to go. A stock pile area will help keep things organized. Once zoned, colonists will bring lumber and any other supplies laying around to that area. Zoning is simply a matter of clicking what area you want and then dragging a box around how big you want it to be. Dragging your cursor to select trees, bushes to forage and other items is also how you commands colonists to harvest those resources.

Farms, Graveyards, and the Stockpile are all placed this way. After you zone a farm you have to click on it to instruct your villagers which type of crop to grow there. The stockpile gives villagers an area to haul resources back to so they can be easily moved to where they are needed later. I tend to use the stockpile as a town square of sorts. As you issue commands to clear forests, forage for supplies, and construct buildings and workshops, the AI will automatically go to work and form work groups. From the work group menu you can move laborers to different groups and toggle off and on certain tasks. Gaurds will automatically defend your colony when fish people attack.

This allows you to make certain work groups focus on a few select tasks or be more jack of all trades. For example you can assign a group to chop down trees  and another to mine nodes but turn off hauling for both, while another group focuses on bring all the different resources back to the stock pile. One mistake I learned from was ignoring these options. As I issued more mining, foraging, chopping, and other tasks, my workers seemed to forget there were farms to be taken care of. Soon I noticed my plants withering and lost a vital food source! On every other attempt, I designate one group at least to focus on nothing but farming. Lesson learned! (A recent patch after writing  increased the farming job priority but still never hurts to err on the side of caution.)

Apart from workers and farmers, you also start off with three soldiers to defend your colony. I also used them for hunters. In my experience, I found that you want to enable hunting only for a bit or they will get over zealous and genocide everything that crosses their path. Once you kill an Auroch, the bones can be foraged and made into bone meal to fertilize farms.

Building houses and workshops is a simple matter of zoning. Choose what you want to have your people build and  drag a box around where you want it to be. You can make buildings as large as you would like and they are customizable. Each building has a couple of things that it requires and then a few optional modules. For example in building a lower class house, once you are done placing beds and a door, you can then place cabinets, tables, and picture frames. the optional models allow you to customize your buildings.

The buildings them selves comprise of Lower, Middle, and Upper class housing. Kitchen, ceramics, armory, refinery,  carpentry, and brewery comprise the workshops you can build. Once a workshop is built, a notification on the bottom of the screen lets you know when a colonist has claimed it. Every so often the homeland will offer to ship your choice of food, guns, or other necessities. Sometimes you will get to choose getting a new skilled person, a few solders, or a few more average workers.

With its quirky humor, excellent writing, and unique take on colonization, Clockwork Empires is worth checking out for simulation fans.