Stranded: Alien Dawn Sow and Sell Update review - Colonizing new frontiers, one planet at a time
Stranded: Alien Dawn is a single-player survival/simulation game, developed by Haemimont Games and published by Frontier Foundry. The title puts players in charge of a group of survivors who must overcome impossible odds to survive and thrive.
After setting out for the Outer Worlds, their passenger ship "Alien Dawn" suffers a catastrophic setback. Thankfully, some survivors do manage to get to escape-pods and reach the planet below, but being stranded on alien land is not the best possible outcome.
Akin to other simulation games, it allows players to micro-manage everything. I got a chance to try out the "Sow and Sell" update, and oh boy, did I have fun.
Stranded: Alien Dawn - Sow, sell, and a surplus of resources
As this was my first time experiencing Stranded: Alien Dawn, I made it a point to try out the first scenario, Crash Landing, before moving on to Trading Outpost. This gave me a brief introduction to the base game.
Although the starting conditions are very different from each other, it provided me with a good sense of what to expect moving forward, and suffice to say, I was impressed. After a fleshed-out tutorial, I was ready to take on this new frontier.
Unlike the first scenario, Trading Outpost, which is part of the Sow and Sell update, is very different in nature. It revolves around a group of outcasts who (for whatever reason) choose to buy a one-way ticket to the uncharted territories of the Outer Worlds.
The goal is simple: Set up a small trading post, get a running economy, and eventually (not to mention, hopefully) acquire enough Galacticoins to buy the planet.
First impressions and gameplay
This being my first time having a crack at Stranded: Alien Dawn, I'm not ashamed to say that the colonists had an emotional meltdown within a few days and I had to start over a couple of times. Suffice to say, I was terrible at managing things. But eventually, I made great headway.
After landing (not crashing, this time around), I had my colonist set up base camp. You know, the basics, right? A few shelters, a roaring campfire, and some sleeping spots. After a while, I thought to myself, "Oh wow, this is a great start."
My colonists had some basic protection from the elements, wooden shelves, and enough space to store things safely. Things were going great...until one of the colonists decided to take a casual walk in a thunderstorm. You can guess what happened next.
I soon realized that I had forgotten to set up a lightning rod. Why, you may ask? Well, I was too busy gathering resources and foraging to worry about weather patterns. It had also completely slipped my mind that I had to build a research desk, despite the tutorial putting great emphasis on it.
Now, coming back to the gameplay, although my time spent in the first scenario was rather brief, I could see the difference almost immediately. For starters, there was a functional 'Trade Pod' now present on the map. I used it to buy materials/products that I needed to keep my survivors/colonists happy and healthy.
Since you start a new game with a fair amount of Galacticoins, they can be used to give your economy a kickstart. A few advanced resources/materials can be purchased to get the show on a roll. But, it is worth mentioning that the first trade-ship doesn't show up until a few days in. Also, the class of the trade ship that comes into orbit will dictate the type of resources/materials you can buy.
Coming to the farming of the "Trading Post" scenario in Stranded: Alien Dawn, I also had new crops to choose from. Instantly, I decided to grow some Buzzshrooms, because why not? If these fine folks decide to travel to the Outer Worlds to establish a thriving farm-based economy, the least I can do is provide them with some 'stimulation' to work hard.
But until you unlock a certain amount of research, you can't really use Buzzshrooms for anything. This is kind of a let-down given that it does make the survivors happy, but it makes sense.
I also managed to find some Cureplants at the start of the game and observed them, but I haven't gotten around to growing them. With the early-game focus being securing food, I rushed to grow some Graingob and Chew Root, and foraged fruit from the bushes.
Once I had a basic supply chain for food, it was time to get to work crafting things I could sell to earn Galacticoins. The easiest way to earn revenue is by selling high-end products, things like antibiotics, ale, wine, first-aid kits, and of course, emergency rations.
However, since setting up a steady supply chain to craft/create the latter mentioned items, I had to start small by selling trade goods. This can be done using basic resources and it didn't really affect my stockpile to a large extent.
Once I had earned my fair share of revenue, I used the funds to buy things that my survivors needed. But since they are stranded on an alien planet, things never go according to plan. Despite providing the very best in terms of food variety, creature comforts, and electricity, I might add, they kept having emotional breakdowns.
I soon realized that I was overworking and not giving them enough time to sleep to recover. While I could reduce the hours of work put in, that would affect the supply-chain. So, what else could I do? After a bit of dabbling, I figured out that I could recruit more survivors using the Trading Pod by posting job offers.
Unlike in the "Crash Landing'' scenario, where more survivors from "Alien Dawn'' wander into your camp, you have to hire them here. Although they do cost Galacticoins to recruit, I managed to get my first survivor for free, for a while at least. That said, at times, it's best to have more survivors despite the added cost.
With so many hands making light work, it's easy to speed up production of base-level items/resources (especially food and basic trade goods). That said, with each survivor having their own personality, things still get tricky now and then. Nevertheless, it's not always 'trouble in alien-paradise.'
At present, if nothing else, I have electricity, a wooden house, basic heating, a fridge to store food longer, and enough boot-leg beverages to keep everyone happy. Although I'm yet to try out the hydroponic rack, I can already assume that it's going to make food production a lot easier.
Performance and Sound
Stranded: Alien Dawn, provided by Frontier Foundry, was played on a system with the following configuration:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
- GPU: RTX 3070 8GB
- RAM: 32 GB
During the course of my extended gameplay in both scenarios, I did not come across any major issues/bugs/glitches as such. As far as I can tell, there were no problems. While the graphics did glitch about a bit while taking screenshots, they were back to normal in a few seconds. To add to this, the game did not crash at all and the loading times were as good as can be expected.
In terms of music and SFX, Stranded: Alien Dawn gets it right for the most part. While the soundtrack does add to the overall vibe of the setting and the fact that there's some sound other than alien-crickets in the background, it does get a bit monotonous.
The SFX, on the other hand, is well executed, but players will have to zoom in on the action to hear them. That said, each in-game action that the survivors execute produces its own unique sound. For instance, when someone is cooking, the sizzle of the vegetables and the clanking of metal cookware can be distinctly heard.
Other sounds, such as rain, lightning strikes, and thunder, are extremely realistic. Firing weapons, the sounds of falling debris from space, and the scuttering of larger-than-life bugs/insects are all clearly audible as well.
Stranded: Alien Dawn's "Trading Outpost" scenario is as fun as it is challenging. While players are given the tools to make life on this frontier planet easier, it comes as a cost. Balancing out the need to earn Galacticoins while producing enough to keep your survivors happy can get a bit tricky.
But I must admit, I love the farming mechanics, and especially the amount of work that has gone into the nitty-gritties of it. From the type of soil, to the temperature, to the fact that everything comes to a standstill in the winter, it was truly an immersive experience.
As for the rest of the gameplay, I can say with much delight that I enjoyed it a lot. Although things can get slow from time to time, especially when waiting for research to complete, time can be used to get some stuff done, provided you know what it is you want to do to begin with.
With multiple resources and numerous ways to use them, deciding on how to put them to the best use can leave you in a dilemma on occasions. For instance, I had to choose between using my Bushfruit to make fruit-flambe or feeding it to my Drakkas.
With this scenario, Trading Outpost, adding more resources and production chains to the mix, I can only imagine things becoming more complex (in a good way) from there on out. With tools to micro-manage or 'set-and-forget' available in-game, it's easy enough to oversee multiple things at once.
On that note, I'm happy to say that my colonists have not only survived, but also thrived. They have danced together, made music, partook in group meals, and also celebrated a year in this alien world. Although I'm far from having enough Galacticoins to purchase the rights to the planet, I'll get there, eventually, that is.
With all that said, I look forward to seeing the full release of the game next month and the new production chains and/or buildings/resources/materials the developers plan on adding in as time goes by. It's already looking amazing and things, much like my production chain, will only go uphill from here on out.