You may have seen I was dead excited about The Pale Beyond in our most anticipated games list the other week, and now we finally know when it's coming out. Publisher Fellow Traveller have announced this Arctic naval expedition gone wrong will be setting sail on February 24th, so ready your blankets and hot cuppas, folks. This icy, story-driven survival 'em up will chill you the bone.
In The Pale Beyond, you play a first mate who's signed themselves up for an Arctic rescue mission to find a missing ship and its lost crew. The captain seems like a sound fellow to begin with, but when your ship suddenly gets trapped in the ice and said captain goes missing all of a sudden, it's your job to take control and try and keep everyone calm, warm, and happy. Think Frostpunk meets TV show The Terror with a dash of Netflix's (now sadly cancelled) 1899, and you get the idea.
I found its substantial Steam demo to be immensely gripping when I played it last year, and I'd defintely recommend giving it a go if you've got a spare couple of hours on hand before its release. It's much more laidback than Frostpunk - every day you're free to roam the ship and take your time talking to your fellow crew mates - but it's very much in the same boat (sorry) when it comes to its tough decision-making. Indeed, each morning you'll have to decide which of the crew's requests you want to enact that day, and which ones you want to ignore. Some will require more food or manpower than you currently have available, for example, and every decision you make will affect how the crew come to view you as a captain. If you're not careful, you may find you have a mutiny on your hands.
The crew your former captain assembled is a bit of a prickly bunch, however, and trying to keep them on side is all part of what makes The Pale Beyond so interesting. Despite their quirks, it was fun getting to know them all in the demo, and their expressive character portraits and well-observed dialogue made every conversation feel meaty and important. Of course, as much as you might want to try and please everyone, there's also the small matter of keeping them fed and warm, too, so you'll need to balance their requests with sending out hunting sled crews and keeping the engine fed with coal at all times.
There's a lot to juggle, but I'm itching to see more of it already. February 24th can't come soon enough. Whether you're looking for a more chilled (sorry) alternative to Frostpunk, or something similar to tide you over until Frostpunk 2 arrives (sorry again), this is definitely one to watch.