Stranded: Alien Dawn Tame and Train Preview
Survival/crafting games come in many flavors, but they all have some things in common. The player character is usually a stranger in a strange land. They start out hungry, thirsty, and cold, and wouldn’t you know it, there happen to be resources nearby. With any luck, the player survives and eventually thrives. Stranded: Alien Dawn, which has been in early access since last October, adds a few wrinkles to the formula. For one thing, the player manages a small group of survivors, a little like the fan favorite, Rimworld. The group’s skills, weaknesses, and interpersonal relationships are part of the game. The latest update, Tame, and Train, adds dogs and even more complex interactions with wildlife.
Stranded: Alien Dawn sees the survivors crash landing on an alien planet. Beginning choices allow the player to select one of three biomes and several parameters that will impact the game’s challenge. These include the relative hostility of local wildlife, the abundance of resources, and the chance of being attacked.
Once the game begins, players are responsible for managing nearly every facet and moment of the survivors’ lives. Happily, as spacefarers, the quartet of survivors comes equipped with some fundamental tools and weapons to help them manage their first, critical days. There are dozens of tools, weapons, structures, and recipes to unlock through research and gathering. Survivors can be scheduled as to their cycles of sleep, work, and leisure.
Even the best and most careful micromanager will encounter challenges. The unpredictable interpersonal relationships between survivors can create friction and unhappiness. Unhappiness, of course, can result in diminished productivity or attention to assignments. Stranded effectively splits the difference between characters having some autonomy or needing constant direction.
Tame and Train is Stranded: Alien Dawn’s second big update. It brings several significant additions and changes. The new “extended family” rule allows for the colony to grow larger through the chance discovery of other survivors. Dozens of tweaks to things like carrying capacity or shortened crafting times are welcome quality-of-life improvements.
By far, the biggest changes are those to animals. If they have the skill, survivors can tame animals. This opens up a wide array of mechanics. Tame animals provide pet-like enjoyment but they also are a harvestable resource. Animals also have happiness, health, and hunger levels to manage. They can fight with one another, and their droppings fertilize the soil. In other words, animals now have their own, intricate emotional and practical ecosystems to micromanage.
Fans of canines will appreciate the three available dog breeds: Great Dane, Boxer, and Weimaraner. Like their real-life counterparts, dogs in Stranded serve as companions, defenders, and warriors. The update includes a new survivor, Hugo Delano, a former zookeeper. Hugo gives the survivor a bit of a jump start with the animal mechanics. Dog lovers wanting to play fetch with their new pals, note. You won’t see them for a while.
Stranded: Alien Dawn does enough new with the survival/crafting genre to make it stand out in a very crowded genre. As it moves towards full release, content updates and patches respond to the player community and reward new players with inciting mechanics not found in other games. Anyone who enjoys both micromanagement and the sort of character autonomy in games like Rimworld, take note. Stranded: Alien Dawn might just be your jam.
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