A new take on the ant colony simulator, AntQueen 3D is rough around the edges, but with some work, it may become the gold standard for its theme.
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
Developer: Fernando Dudka
Publisher: Les Technologies inVantage
Release date: 1 November, 2019
Simulation and strategy games require depth in order to stand out from their competition as well as to immerse their players in the experience. AntQueen 3D manages to achieve this depth through a number of features that show clear potential but they are in a noticeably Early Access state, even if the title itself is not officially so. The game works, for the most part, but there are several flaws that can certainly interfere with your enjoyment of it.
Live The Ant Life
Whether you are playing in the campaign or sandbox mode, your overall goal is to survive and grow your colony. I would highly suggest attempting the campaign first as it explains a number of important aspects for managing your ants that are not at all intuitive in-game and unlocks them at a steady enough pace that you’ll learn as you progress. The sandbox explains nothing and, without tooltips or a clean UI, you’re most likely headed for disaster in your first run.
One of the perks that I found in AntQueen 3D is that when you start a colony, you get to keep playing as that colony. This is standard practice in the sandbox modes of many games, but it’s often not the case in their campaigns. In this title, you’ll guide the same colony from your first humble hole in the ground at the start to the completion of the final objective at the end. This is a modern feature that I was very happy to see included.
The design of your colony tunnels is up to you. As you might imagine, the mechanical depth of your tunnels themselves isn’t to the same level as the settlements of titles like RimWorld or Cities: Skylines, but the many challenges that you will face will keep you on your toes all the same. You’ll define some areas in your nest for the nurturing of eggs, storage of food, and growth of mushrooms, though the bulk of the game is based upon managing your population and their tasks. There are seven classifications of ants in your colony: nursers, workers, diggers, repletes, soldiers, majors, and queens. Each of these types have stats that vary from one another, such as their speed and attack power, but also passive abilities that make them particularly effective in certain roles. You can manually assign any classification of ant to any job, but you’ll certainly prefer to have workers collecting food while soldiers are eliminated hostile threats, for example.
Food and water are important to the survival of your ant colony. You’ll continually need to find new food sources, whether you are growing them, scavenging them, or hunting them is up to you at any given time. Hunting is certainly the most dangerous of these, but removing others creatures in the area is integral to your success; some like ladybugs are easy to kill but will steal other sources of food when possible, while others, like spiders or lizards, can cause serious havoc on your colony if left unchecked. Space is also important here, every egg has a food and space requirement that is based on their classification that must be met before new ants can be born. This will keep you digging an increasingly larger nest to meet this requirement which will result in the need for dirt to be excavated. This may sound like a minor mechanic but it is actually a massive part of the game and not as dull as you might imagine it to be; there’s an entire classification of ant, the digger, that specializes in removing dirt without sacrificing their move speed and I can’t stress their value enough.
The atmosphere of AntQueen 3D focuses on the player experience much more than the realistic immersion side. I don’t recall having heard any sound effects while playing the game, though the music that is playing throughout is catchy and upbeat. Yes, if you ever wanted to listen to some sick beats while managing an ant farm, this title’s got you covered. The graphics are unimpressive considering the standard for modern games, even indie ones, though this shouldn’t negatively impact the overall game unless you find yourself particularly picky when it comes to visual aesthetic. I felt that neither the audio nor the graphics caused any issue that bled into the rest of the game for me, and I even found myself enjoying the music.
It’s Early Access Whether It Says It Is Or Not
There’s no question in my mind that AntQueen 3D should be an Early Access title. The developers are still actively working on the game and seeking out player feedback to improve the experience. The translation is absolutely terrible; I could almost always discern the general message that I was intended to be receiving, though the frequent attempts at humor certainly fell flat. There were also areas of the user interface that I was never able to figure out, and I’m not entirely sure that they’re even in use currently as they never changed, no matter what took place in my colonies. The experience usually seemed to function well enough, apart from two of my play sessions starting with the realization that my campaign save data had been lost. A game-breaking bug, to be sure, and one that I’m hoping is resolved sooner rather than later.
AntQueen 3D is a title that shows a lot of promise that it might become an excellent ant colony simulator, but it still has quite a way to go before it gets there. It’s playable currently, and I have enjoyed the time that I’ve had with it, though its state is nowhere near what I expect out of a finished game. If this were truly an Early Access title, I would recommend picking it up if the theme interested you. However, as it isn’t Early Access, and we can’t be sure of how much further along it will be developed, I would recommend passing on this title until it’s been honed into a product more worthy of its $18 price tag.