11 Bit Studios made a name for itself with This War of Mine, a powerful game about the civilian casualties of war, and now the company is back with a second experience that peers into the heart of humanity. Frostpunk is a dystopian look at society as it exists on an Earth that has completely frozen over. Humans rely on steam-powered machines, fighting the cold world with heat, and society as we know it has evaporated. People focus on survival, at times disposing of morality in order to continue existing. Frostpunk asks whether this societal change makes people stronger or weaker, more or less human.
Frostpunk has strategy and management features, but it's ultimately a game about making decisions and questioning morality. The studio aims to make Frostpunk's steampunk characteristics believable, which is one reason developers gravitated toward the idea of a frozen planet -- it's logical that humans would want to surround themselves with the warmth of steam engines in such a cold environment. This narrative decision bleeds into the game's art style, where the remnants of civilization are presented in warm tones and nature is a cold palette.
"This is a deeply serious game created for a mature gamer," creative director Michal Drozdowski says. "Looking back at This War of Mine, we're pushing boundaries even further, but we're not pointing at reality in the same fashion. We're putting human nature under a microscope to ask about what happens when people need to stay alive."
11 Bit senior writer Pawel Miechowski said similar things about This War of Mine back in 2014, calling that game "serious" and "mature." This War of Mine sold well and won multiple awards, including the Audience Award at the 2015 Independent Games Festival. With Frostpunk, 11 Bit is sticking with its strengths in creating a moody, thoughtful and emotive gaming experience. The studio says Frostpunk is its biggest and most complex game to date.
Frostpunk is scheduled to hit PC in 2017. The game's introductory teaser trailer is the first in a series that 11 Bit promises will continue soon.