Will Uncharted Shores be able to fix the problems of its predecessor?
Genre: Strategy, City Builder
Developer: Xigma Games
Publisher: Xigma Games
Release Date: Aug 2020
The Bonfire 2: Uncharted Shores is a city-building game where you have to manage every aspect of your little colony. Starting from just a bunch of villagers landed on a shore of an uncharted island, you’ll have to build your village from the ground up, manage its resources and defend it from its wild enemies. Uncharted Shores is the sequel of the 2D game “The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands”: a pretty game that fell short on the actual game time. Will the additional features of this new title be worth it? Let’s take a look!
A New Dimension
The first thing that comes to the eye to those who played the Forsaken Lands is the addition of a new dimension, spatially speaking. The game isn’t tied anymore to a plain 2D space, but now buildings can be placed on a grid, allowing more freedom when it comes to city building. As for Uncharted Shores’ story, you will start your village from the ground up, since you just arrived on this new, uncharted island with just a bunch of explorers. This means building a bonfire, used to keep your people warm and attract other explorers to your little angle of civilization.
Right after that, you can start constructing production buildings, like the hunting lodge for food or the logger’s camp for wood. Something you’ll learn soon enough is that there’s never too much manpower, so most of your production buildings will work at a lower efficiency, especially during the early game. Luckily the island is filled with natural resources, so survival isn’t that difficult and the village can be expanded without encountering big problems. Until night comes.
Afraid of the Dark
Uncharted Shores, like its predecessor, has a night and day cycle: during the day your villagers work and expand the village, but then night comes and with it its monsters. During night time a handful of villagers will patrol the premises of the village, armed with a torch and whatever you’ll give to them. Nighttime is, honestly, a hit-and-miss. On one hand, it makes the game more difficult and adds suspense, on the other, it feels like a chore. Why? Because monsters come every night. It may seem stupid, but the fact that there’s a 100% probability of a monster attack during the night, an attack that you two or three villagers will handle with no problem at all, really takes the fun out of it. Yeah, sometimes a bigger attack comes and one of your villagers gets killed, but, usually, two days later a new explorer comes and the dead guard gets replaced like nothing happened.
Right now, these monster attacks feel more like a nuisance than a real danger. Speaking of monsters, each night can bring a different kind out of a restricted pool: there are wolves, spiders, demons, pirates… but they also kind of feel all the same. As time passes, monsters attacks get stronger: luckily there are a few ways to counter them, the first being adding more guards. The latters (and also normal workers) do get experience over time, allowing them to get stronger (or more capable at work). In addition to all this, there is the possibility to craft special equipment, like sword and armours, which prove essential for the survival of the colony once some times has passed.
Progression and Expansion
There are two main aspects when it comes to game progression: the buildings you’ve unlocked and the number of villagers you have. The latter is pretty straightforward and lets you populate your production buildings, which are the foundation of your village. The unlocking of new kinds of buildings is instead a bit iffy, not in the unlocking mechanisms but in the order in which it actually unlocks the buildings. For example, in order to unlock the mine, you’ll have to first build a stockpile: this is a building that stores a wide range of materials, but the only ones it can store are those that you can’t still produce, since all the production buildings for those materials are unlocked after the stockpile. The materials you can produce, like wood or skins, can’t instead be stored in it, which makes very little sense!
Another problem with the day/night cycle is that it is split evenly. Thus, each day is made of a first interactive part, where you manage the citizens, buildings and so on, while the other half is watching your guards slaughter (or get slaughtered by) monster, with no need for inputs. This creates two main problems: the fact that for half of the time the game is interesting, while for the other half it’s boring is the first one. The second one is that having the production halted for half of the game time makes the game much more slower than it should be.
The expansion of your colony will reach the peak once you’ll start trading with other cities: once you build an harbour, you will be able to contact nearby towns and trade with them. This additional exploration brings a little bit of additional content and random encounters, which are always welcome.
The Bonfire 2: Uncharted Shores is an enjoyable game with some quirks. While its structure is well fleshed-out, it doesn’t bring mind-blowing improvements to the genre and it’s also a bit rough around the edges. While I’ve appreciated the game, I surely cannot give it a SAVE in its current state. A SAVE FOR LATER will do: if you’re interested in the genre, you’ll enjoy it, but if you’re new to it, there are better options out there.