Discover more from Hashtag Survival
Homeseek: Fun If You're Into That Sort of Thing!
...Also if you aren't!
Believe it or not, I - you know, the person described on this website as being an action-oriented player with a run-and-gun playstyle - am not the biggest fan of games that require heavy strategic elements. I'm sure there's an argument to be made about strategy being inherent in the structure of survival games, but we'll save that for another article. Maybe.
Anyway, games that require a little more complex thought tend to make my eyes glaze over. My mind wanders, and my patience fails me. This applies to games like simulators, RTSs, city builders, and TCGs... things of that sort. There are some that I click with, the biggest being Sid Meier's Civilization series and the very occasional RTS (I had so much fun throwing tons and tons of Orks at my opponents in Dawn of War). I also surprisingly really enjoyed the demo for Infection Free Zone, which we played for Steam NextFest. These are outliers, though, so I wanted to get that bit of honesty out of the way before I dive into talking about Homeseek.
If you'd like to read a much more thorough and focused, and well-written review by someone who enjoys, plays, and is actually good at games of this sort, you should absolutely check out Becca's review instead. She's much smarter than me and has a better basis for comparing this game to others like it!
That said, I will try to approach this by talking about the things that stood out to me as cool and/or exciting features. So if you have similar gaming preferences to me, maybe you can use my thoughts to make some judgments of your own about whether or not to give Homeseek a shot!
Let's start with why I think this game belongs on Hashtag Survival. There are multiple resources you need to balance to keep your settlers alive. There's exploration you need to do to find these resources and research and building you need to do to successfully and safely gather them. There are layers to this as well - you start out only able to harvest contaminated water which unsurprisingly isn't very healthy for your citizens and has a high likelihood of making them sick. You have to research and learn how to build better structures that will clean the water for you. There are impactful consequences for failing to meet the needs of your survivors, which can snowball and make things harder and harder for you to the point of the death of your entire budding colony.
This game is absolutely about survival before it's about thriving. Thriving can come later, after much struggle and work - if things go well.
From that, I'll move on to one of the things about this game I enjoyed - the way story is presented. You begin the game as a scrappy group of survivors, traveling to the surface after years of humanity hiding below ground from a ruined, irradiated world. Your goal is to rebuild some sense of civilization which, as far as you know, crumbled long ago. That's how it starts. How it progresses from there depends on you and your choices, not only in terms of what you build and how you build it or how you prioritize - but also how you react to random events that will happen throughout your game. You might be presented with a risky decision, and it's up to you to decide if it's worth taking. Sure, you're going to put a few lives in danger, and losing them would affect your productivity... But won't that extra source of food that could come from it benefit the greater good?
Exploration of the world outside your colony is also a crucial gameplay mechanic. You can put together an expedition team to go out and explore the wastes of a once prosperous planet Earth (make sure you can provide them with enough resources for the trip, though; otherwise, they're gonna have a bad time). This expedition comes across its own discoveries, which lead to more choices you need to make, and more difficult decisions that force you to weigh your options. These can affect not only the team and its mission but also what your settlement gains or loses from it. I loved this mechanic because while it's easy to hone in on your own colony as you struggle to keep it afloat and manage everything that needs managing, it's cool to get reminders that there's an entire big, scary world out there beyond your "borders" and you have no idea what you're going to find, and once you do find something... Well, let's hope you're ready to face it however you need to.
I'll also say I like that the game keeps you busy. That is, I didn't experience a lot of downtime where I was staring at the screen, waiting for something to do. I always felt the need to check something, readjust, plan, or whatever. While on the one hand, I realize how that might sound stressful, I want to clarify that basically, I mean that I wasn't bored. Which I very often become when a game has me standing around just waiting. I feel my sanity slowly leaving me in those moments. That said, I'm sure there are many people out there much more efficient and organized than I am who might run into moments where there's nothing to do, and for them, a wonderful thing exists in this game: multiple speed-up time buttons! Praise!
Now I'll get to the point where I disparage myself some more to give the game a fair shake: I did, at times, find myself becoming confused, overwhelmed, and struggling. I don't think that's because the game is too complex. I think that's because I am dumb of ass. I think, in all honesty, Homeseek is not an excessively complicated game. I think it's right in the sweet spot where you'd want this type of game to be (and I'm sure in the full release, there will be difficulty levels and options to increase the challenge if you disagree with me).
So I would say if you see some of yourself in me and are looking for a game to start dipping your toes into this genre, Homeseek is not at all a terrible choice. If you grab the demo or sign up for the playtest and try it yourself, you might find some gameplay you enjoy! And in the end, if you don't, and you decide maybe this one isn't for you? That's ok - I don't think you'll regret the time you spent.