A colorful but somewhat limited version of WaterWorld
Genre: Management, Survival
Developer: Pajama Llama Games
Release date: 26 September, 2019
Flotsam is an Early Access survival and management game set in a post-apocalyptic world where the seas covered almost all land. Plastic and wood float everywhere and the last humans live in floating cities made of junk. The player is tasked with the management of one such city and its inhabitants, called drifters.
Waterworld, without violence
Flotsam keeps a relaxing gameplay during all city stages: initially water and food will be short, but there’s never really the need to do everything very fast to survive. The game even lets the player test a little at the very start, giving him food and drinkable water reserves.
Initially, the main problem is having a stable source of food and water: these two resources are, in fact, not as easy to gather as I thought. Water requires boiling, to separate the actual liquid from the salt. To boil water a dedicated building is required and it uses firewood to make the water boil. Firewood is made in another building, using dry wood, that is obtained by drying the logs that can be found floating around the ocean. Again, not so easy! And all this is only for water!
All these hoops make for a game that requires some management skills and, luckily, doesn’t feel artificially difficult or too heavy to play. Resources are, in fact, handled naturally: you’ll never create metal pipes using plastics, for example. Managing the town after resolving the food and water problem isn’t that difficult and it slowly becomes a grind to build the more advanced buildings.
Fish, fish and more fish
The more the player advances in the game the more autonomous the city becomes. Solar stills are researchable and automatically provide a small source of water, without the need of the process listed above. There’s a building used to catch fishes, so the player doesn’t have to manually tell his drifters to do it. After the initial hurry to find food and water the game slows down: here is where the game needs features that still aren’t present into the game. Something that keeps the player, well… playing, after the initial hours.
To boldly go where no man has gone before
Having a floating city means that it can be moved around and, in fact, Flotsam has a convenient system of waypoints that can be used to move the town. Opening the map details where you are and what you will find in the next areas. Not all areas are reachable, though. There are two sources of motion: wind, that can be exploited by building a big sail, or oil. The first one lets the city move only in one direction, while the second can be used to move diagonally.
Depending on the area, different points of interest can be found: a small decaying village on the top of a mountain, a factory in ruins, survivors on a small island… The events are very basic and unoriginal, so after the same one appears for the third time the desire to discover disappears.
Flotsam is in dire need of content to keep the player hooked for more than four hours, adding not only more buildings, but also more map events, some dangers (pirates? seaquakes?) and some basic stuff like traveling merchants. The fact that after the first two hours there’s no more need for the player to manage food and water should move the focus to something more interesting, like the security of the town or the wellness of its drifters.
Flotsam is a game that just entered Early Access. It will hopefully become a more solid management game in a year or so. Right now, unfortunately, it is a mere base of the game it will become, which is a bit too little for the steep asking price of $24.99 / €22.99 / £19.99.