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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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Adam Smith

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