Oxygen Not Included – Quick Game Review (Early Access)

Oxygen Not Included – Quick Game Review (Early Access)
Oxygen Not Included (PC [Reviewed])
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Klei Entertainment

Oxygen Not Included is a base-building survival strategy game that is currently in early access on Steam. 

The gameplay revolves entirely around gathering resources to expand and maintain your colony, while ensuring the survival of all the inhabitants or duplicants as they’re called. The duplicants are random, and have different stats, passive abilities, and stress responses. 

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Dig, dig, and dig some more. Gather resources to build to survive. Along with the initial crafting cost, some buildings will need to be resupplied regularly if you want to keep using them. I found that turning buildings on or off helped a lot to conserve precious resources. It takes a lot of building and expanding to gather enough resources to even come close to making the base self-sustainable (in my 32+ hours of playing, I still haven’t been able to achieve it yet)

Managing your population also plays a role. I’ve found that recruiting too many duplicants is way too much of a strain on resources, so I wound up declining new recruits very often. (So far, my most successful colony still has only 5 duplicants after 69 cycles.)

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When things inside the base start to go wrong, it can trigger even more things in your base to go badly, and spiral out of control if you don’t pause the game, and address the issues quickly. There were many times where I felt like my colony was on a path to extinction, and I wasn’t sure if I could fix the problems. Fortunately, every cycle the game auto saves, which is really nice to have in case you completely screw up and kill everyone by mistake. I think the auto-saves eventually overwrite, but there are still plenty available to revert to.

Researching new technology in game is essential for progress, and you will be able to learn everything. You’ll need to set up a stable power grid to keep everything up and running. Things like gas and liquid filtration become very important as the colony grows. Filtering out toxic gases and carbon dioxide, while pumping in oxygen, but at the same time managing the gas pressure and temperature in each of the areas as well. Some structures consume one type of resource, and generate others, such as the scrubber that uses clean water and carbon dioxide, but produces polluted water as a byproduct. 

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Pros:
  • great survival aspects and resources that you need to manage (i.e. oxygen, hunger, temperature, stress using decor, power generation, liquid and gas filtration systems, etc.)
  • there’s a lot of things to manage, but it’s all about trying to find that balance so your colony can thrive, and it can present as quite a challenge to achieve that
  • good research system, and you can learn everything essential to maintaining your colony
  • you don’t need to micro-manage the duplicants, but they will automatically go and complete tasks that you have prioritized
  • addictive gameplay, where you will want to do “just one more thing,” and then it winds up turning into several hour long stretches of playing
  • there’s certainly replay value in that you will likely start over at least a few times when you figure out ways that you could have done things better
  • graphics are great: the environments, and the items you build in the base look good, and the characters facial animations are extremely adorable
  • good audio: the music is decent, and the sound effects give you nice clear audio cues when things go wrong
  • customizable keyboard shortcuts (there is no controller support, but even if there was, I would advise against using it)

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Cons:
  • it can be overwhelming, and could use better tutorials (reading a wiki or watching some tips outside of the game is helpful)
  • no story right now, or any sort of objectives other than just dig, build, and survive (which won’t appeal to everyone)
  • (nitpick) the AI isn’t perfect, and it will sometimes strand itself by digging the wrong direction, but it’s not usually a big deal
Conclusion:

Oxygen Not Included is a great game. Even in its early access state, the game is very fun and very addicting. There is plenty of stuff to build and manage with more updates being added, the game has a ton of potential. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys base building survival strategy games. Just keep in mind that the game is not finished yet, so if you’re turned off by early access titles, then you might want to just wishlist it for later.