I am quite a fan of strategy and management games. I am also naturally a very stressful person so I enjoy those sorts of games in a turn-based format. Oxygen Not Included is the complete opposite of that, a game in which you must manage an entire space colony, practically in real-time. Since the game’s official release date, and eventual update, has been pushed back by a few months I thought it would be prudent to sit down and take a quick look at the game as it currently is, perhaps temper a few expectations before the game finally comes out.
The main interesting point about Oxygen Not Included that you’re likely to notice when you first boot the game is the visual style. The game bears a number of marked similarities to Klei Entertainment’s last game, Don’t Starve, at least visually. The artwork has a very distinctive look, although it’s less dark and twisted this time around. Once you actually boot yourself into the game you’ll find that the similarities with the previous game are only skin-deep. While your main goal is still survival you’re no longer looking out for your own needs. Instead, you have to manage a colony of at least 3 and provide them enough oxygen, food, and warmth. You also have no direct control over your colonists. Instead of controlling a worker directly you just hand out jobs and give them different priorities from 1-9.
The lack of control that you have over the on-screen characters adds to the constant stress. You always feel like you have a very loose grip on proceedings, which is impressive considering how much micro-managing the game has. Everything can be organized. From which jobs each person does, who gets a bed, who eats what etc. You also have to place hygiene facilities in the vague path of your workers or they just won’t use them. With so much to manage and such a loose grasp of the gameplay, things are constantly going wrong. When you’re not low on food, your workers are depressed. It’s a very oppressive feeling, which might be the entire point.
It’s certainly possible that Klei decided they wanted a game which made space exploration difficult and obtuse, but that doesn’t mean it was a good idea. Hopefully when the final game releases we’ll get an updated version which has refined the gameplay just a tad.
Did you enjoy our video preview of Oxygen Not Included? What do you think about the game? Let us know in the comment section down below.