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Dawn of Man moves out of caves and into stores

Kings and queens of the stone age

There's been a glut of good city-building games lately, but the prehistoric Dawn Of Man flew under my radar until it launched today. Developed by Madruga Works (formerly of space-coloniser Planetbase), it has players leading a tribe of early humans through the ages, hunting wooly mammoths in the Neolithic era and eventually evolving into an Iron Age society. It looks rather clever, and not overly cluttered with numbers and graphs - contrary to what The Flintstones may have taught us, stone-age statisticians were rare. Check out the launch trailer below.

So far, Dawn Of Man seems very well-regarded, with early players comparing it favourably to Banished, another less compromising, survival-oriented town-builder. Over the course of its 10,000+ year campaign (fortunately not played in real-time) the needs of the tribe change drastically. Early on, players hunt mammoth, cave lions and ancient, extremely beefy prehistoric deer for food and furs to survive through winters. Eventually you'll develop walls, farms, granaries and domestication, but Rome's prehistorical predecessor wasn't built in a day.

Changing seasons and weather, as with Banished, seem like a major concern here. A hunter-gatherer tribe will have a whole lot less to hunt and gather during those cold winter months unless there's stuff stored away. It should make the evolution into agriculture all the more interesting, as your people become less reliant on the prowling, horribly muscular ancient fauna to survive.

The game is solo only, and offers a handful of free-play scenarios of escalating difficulty. Continental Dawn is the most gentle of the starting points, while The Northlands looks significantly harsher and less forgiving. Ancient Warriors is the toughest of the initial start points and throws players into conflict. It looks like the game stays nicely narrow in its scope even late into the timeline, with an achievement called 'overpopulation' being awarded to those who raise a tribe of over 200 people. A drop in a bucket in other management games, but your entire world here.

Dawn of Man is out now for £16.56/€17.84/$21.24 on Steam, Humble and GOG.

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Dominic Tarason