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Strive to Be Human: The Colonists Review

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Originally published on Nintendo Castle.

The Colonists Logo

Following in the footsteps of retro city-building titles such as Pharoah and Banished, The Colonists seeks to innovate this genre both thematically and stylistically. The Colonists features cute robots, a charming cel-shaded aesthetic, and a wonderful premise. But, the question still stands as to its place among the many city-builders being developed and released in the modern market.

Platforms: Switch [Reviewed], PS4, Xbox One, Steam
Developers: Codebyfire, Auroch Digital, Mode 7 Games
Publishers: Auroch Digital, Mode 7 Games
Release: October 24, 2018
MSRP: $24.99

Press Copy provided by Auroch Digital

Aesthetically, The Colonists is extremely charming. The robots who act as your citizens are curious, cute, and do a little dance whenever they're idle. While this is, obviously, really adorable, it also serves the purpose of showing you who's not working in a visually pleasing, yet subdued, way. There are many subtle aspects of the visual design that support this, and it doesn't stop there. This is also true of the audio design, and while it lacks some audio balance for the louder noises, that is very forgivable given the care that went into this aspect of the game.

Many of the best aspects of this game lie in its simplicity that slowly grows. While the average Factorio factory grows into a behemoth very quickly for those who aren't great at these types of games, The Colonists is a friendly introduction into the city-building genre. The tutorial especially is amazing considering the fundamentally complicated nature of this type of game.

The Colonists Settlement

Many of the specific gameplay mechanics of The Colonists are designed to complement the robotic nature of the settlers. Even the roads, the fundamental building block of a proper city-building game, are built-in specific parts that then become lines for the movement of goods.

The robots in the game will take goods from one area to the closest signpost, which will then be ferried away to the next one, and so on. The efficiency of this system is built into the design of every mechanic, but it can take some getting used to. For most city-builder players, the idea of not being able to place roads from anywhere on another road is heresy. But, once an astute player realizes that the layout of roads is a big deal for proper production, it becomes much easier to plan the city as a whole.

The Colonists Story

The Colonists forces the player to reconsider the conventions of this genre. It makes the normal production cycle of a city into a robotic machine that runs like clockwork even in the worst designed cases. The game is truly a pleasure to look at and play. The game is best described as bright and colorful, even in the way the game plays. It is remarkable that a city-building game has managed to create such a lively experience, despite the normally analytical nature of such a genre. Yet, somehow for The Colonists, it works.

The Colonists Exiting Rocket

That doesn't mean, though, that the game isn't improved by better player decision-making. This is quite the opposite of reality, as the better the player becomes at designing the city, the better it looks. While the idle dance begins as a cute spectacle, it quickly becomes a sign that displays its true purpose: a signal of an inefficient colony.

And yet, this cute colony builder is not without its flaws. Without a sufficiently large monitor close to the face of the player, the text and symbols that are extremely important become a muddled mess. The audio balance is off for many tasks such as chopping wood, and the HUD is a little complicated and overwhelming at first. Finding the important bits of info in such a large group of numbers and graphs is a nightmare.

The Colonists Radial Menu

This is especially true for the Switch port, which is made even worse by the comparably tiny screen of the Nintendo Switch. The various means of accessing buildings, checking resource numbers, and managing workstations are kind of a mess. But, that is a testament to how difficult it is to port a city-building title to a console, and not to the quality of the game. The framerate on the Switch is also not great, and gets much worse the more is going on. Considering the point of the game is to maximize productivity for your robot villagers, it becomes unplayable far too quickly.

All these things considered, The Colonists is still a solid and unique title in this genre and earns our official recommendation.


  • Charming, cute aesthetic
  • Visually unique
  • Innovative city-builder design
  • Satisfying gameplay
  • Excellent tutorial and introductory campaign
  • Lively and addicting to play


  • HUD is over-crowded and complex
  • Audio balance is poor
  • Text and icons are not easily readable
  • Bad framerate




Great games are generally good buying decisions and are recommended for those with an interest in the genre. There might be a few flaws that detract from the gameplay, stories, controls, presentations, or value, but the game is still an enjoyable experience that justifies a full playthrough.

Want to know what this score means? Check out our Scoring Guidelines page.

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