Oxygen Not Included is a space-colony survival simulation game, but it is so much more than that. Yes, surviving is the name of the game, but it contains many other factors. In the end, it’s quite the survival/strategy/simulation/base-building game.
The title of the game, Oxygen Not Included, gives you an idea of what to expect, but it is more than just oxygen that you need to be concerned with as soon as the game loads. Oxygen quality, temperature, water levels, food, sewage; just about everything you can think of is of immediate concern. This game will start out easy to play, but as soon as you think you have the hang of it… BOOM! One of the characters overfills the toilet, you have a spill to cleanup, and you had better hope that it did not contaminate food or the other characters.
Oxygen Not Included begins by spawning three random characters, called duplicants, inside of a large asteroid. Each of these characters have different traits, attributes, and additional features that you will want to take note of, or things could backfire quickly. You are given some hints and tips as you progress but not to the point of annoyance. You should take the time to read these, because they are truly going to help you on your way.
Each duplicant has good and bad traits. The good traits have a positive effect on your colony, while the bad traits can spell disaster. These attributes give off an RPG-vibe. Initially, each duplicant has stats for athletics, cooking, digging, medicine, tinkering, construction, creativity, learning, and stress. These numbers help you pick which duplicants you like more. For example, a duplicant could have a +7 cooking but, a -2 construction. Is the cooking attribute going to help you more in the long run? You have to look at what you may need or desire in a duplicant. If you don’t choose wisely, you could set yourself up for disaster.
One of the best aspects of Oxygen Not Included is the negative effect that citizens can have on the colony. If a duplicant becomes stressed, they may throw up all over the floor, or they will start trying to break objects. It can be a bad thing for the colony, sure, but the potential for meltdown allows for a lot of fun quick-thinking and problem-solving.
Once you have a basic understanding of the game, things become complicated. You are essentially creating a living, self-sustaining environment from scratch. The duplicants, along with your choices, will dictate this progress. There are a few basic things you’ll need to do, such as digging, mopping, sweeping, and harvesting. These skills will help you to harvest resources, which will then be used to create more items like electrical wire and oxygen generators.
Everything in Oxygen Not Included is being driven by expansion and survival. If you expand your area too quickly and aren’t paying attention to where you’re digging, you can dig into a vacuum or a toxic water area. There are also small creatures that inhabit parts of the asteroid, and you’ll need to have someone who doesn’t have a “scaredy-cat” trait to defeat them. These are just a couple of numerous variables you’ll need deal with. Oh, and did I mention this is all randomly generated?
That’s right! Every time you load up a brand new game, your asteroid and its layout is random. Just like your duplicates, each time you decide to start over, or just want to play a new game, it’s a new strategy. Unlike your control over your duplicates, you don’t get the option to click a randomize button for the asteroid–but that’s not always a bad thing. I have started and killed my colony enough times to know that no matter what you think you’ve planned for, you’re in for a new adventure each time. I have tried strategizing and sticking to a game plan, only to have that drastically change based on what kind of random situation I have spawned into. One time, I spawned and immediately noticed that every pocket of water that was near my initial spawn location was toxic. Talk about a bad roll of the dice. And yes, my colony died a tragic, player-caused death soon after.
Overall, Klei Entertainment is putting out another fantastic and beautiful game with Oxygen Not Included. This game is going to continue to get better as the devs continue to make this game more challenging with periodic updates. Snag this game now, while it’s in Steam Early Access if you want to save a few bucks, as the price may increase once it has launched fully. You won’t be disappointed.