Dragon Pass Meets Alpha Centauri: The Next World

Just released on Steam, The Next World’s [official site] store page description plants the game in the midst of mighty company.

TNW is a visual novel/strategy hybrid in the vein of The Banner Saga, King of Dragon Pass and Oregon Trail, with an emphasis on planning and decision-making over combat.

I’ve added another apparent inspiration in the headline. With a story from sci-fi author Ryan A Span, The Next World involves colony construction and resource management, as well as more personal decisions.

I’m intrigued, even if I am concerned that I’ll be squinting at that tiny, tiny text.

There are a great many visual novels available on PC these days and I, perhaps unfairly, skip straight past most of them in the same way I skip past Early Access survival games. Not my cup of tea. But this visual novel, strategy/survival hybrid has somehow secured my attention. It’s the setting as much as anything else. I’m a fan of tales of colonies and the many ways in which they can flourish or fail. Give me the Mars transition from Red to Blue, or the many folk-horrors that surround the Roanoke vanishing.

Colonies are often (but not always) built on impermanent foundations, settlements that exist in an unfamiliar present and look toward a future that might not contain them. They don’t yet have the confidence of a village, town or city. All things come to an end though. My favourite book of 2012, Vanished Kingdoms, concerns the vanishing of entities that did have a sense of permanence.

I don’t know if the characters stranded on The Next World can find happiness or establish a permanent settlement, and I’m not even sure how much control you’ll have over their future should you play the game. The colonist counter you can see in the trailer seems to be a feature throughout the game, like The Banner Saga’s survivor count, but as with Stoic’s game there’s an overarching plot to reckon with alongside the strategic decision-making.

Keep as many colonists alive as possible by making the tough decisions which will determine how your adventure unfolds. Build colony structures, salvage wreckage, resolve problems with multiple branching outcomes, and manage your colony’s dwindling supplies; all while playing through an intense story of political intrigue, sabotage, desperation and survival…

If Matt Damon can colonise Mars, I reckon I can colonise just about anyplace I land.

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18 Comments

  1. RuySan says:

    Tiny text is a bane of modern PC games. Developers still think we are hunching on 14′ monitors.

    Sunless Sea, Underrail and Endless Legends were unplayable for me.

    • Cinek says:

      Get a proper screen at a proper distance.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        It’s probably just as easy for a text adventure to allow for larger text sizes and different fonts.

        I don’t know, I just don’t understand how all you can say is “better buy a bigger monitor (you noob)”.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      But… that text is slightly larger than the text on this website.

    • AngoraFish says:

      Another inexcusable tiny font offender is the Steam client. Horrendous, although at least font scaling on the desktop mitigates this problem somewhat, unlike many games.

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        Lars Westergren says:

        Small, and also really blurry. They have said they do not plan to support high definition fonts for the forseeable future.

        • HeavyStorm says:

          I can’t imagine why Valve doesn’t invest into making Stream client a little better. Horrible user experience overall, and some simple changes would go a very long way.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            I think they’re all about the big picture mode lately

  2. Hedgeclipper says:

    Visual novel got it an instant ‘not interested’ but this got it upgraded to a ‘follow’.

    • Zankman says:

      The genre itself – as a system of mechanics that the user interacts with – or the tropes associated with VN aka “anime bullshit”?

      Cuz the latter made me vary as well.

  3. Potajito says:

    Shame on the super tiny text (specially having a huge box to show it), but I wishlisted it hoping for an update.

  4. Pantalaimon says:

    I can’t fault a developer for their ambition, but my, KoDP is already a tough billing to live up to (nobody has in 16 years and A Sharp themselves have only recently embarked upon a spiritual successor…) let alone throwing the other two into the mix. Trailer seems promising, though.

    • klops says:

      The gameplay of the first 12 minutes did not feel KoDPy for me. It was a visual novel. Still, waiting to see/hear/read more of this.

      • Shadow says:

        Yeah, KoDP has tons of dynamic and emergent gameplay. According to what I’ve read, this one is mostly a linear story with multiple endings mixed with management elements. Rather far from KoDP.

        Hate it when devs claim “this game’s in the vein of X, Y and Z” when in truth there’s only a passing resemblance. Oh well, research averts mistakes yet again.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      It is a VN with a very light strategy element. KoDP it is not. I liked it just fine, but that is frankly a silly comparison unless they expand the strategy element to 10X the current size.

      Right now it is 95% VN and 5% strategy. You cannot screw up the strategy part and win, but it is basically a flash game embedded in a VN.

  5. Jstn says:

    It reminds me of Alien Legacy: building colonies on alien planets, exploring the planets for evidence of what happened to the missing civilization that was supposed to be there, researching technology, and occasionally making KoDP-type decisions to save your people and avoid a mutiny.

  6. Wednesday says:

    Not sure about this but Vanished Kingdoms is a incredible book.

  7. Vincku says:

    This has nothing to do with Alpha Centauri.