Oxygen Not Included

Icon - Calendar Released: 18 May 2017
Icon - Edited Reviewed: 28 Feb 2022
Platform: PC

Oxygen not included

This has all the character and flair of Klei's fantastic games. Unfortunately, this one is way over my head. You manage a colony inside an asteroid and have to manage an overwhelming amount of systems to survive: hygiene, sleep, power, research, food, pollution, storage, morale, transport, plumbing, gases, pressure, research, floods, cleaning, decor, stress - least of all oxygen itself. These systems are masterfully intertwined into a very detailed, if quirky, simulation. The game has a steep learning curve so if you make a mistake, you tend to die out and have to start again. I have tried and tried to get into this game, but I just can't cope with how complicated it is.

Pros

  • Great fun background music
  • Cute animations
  • As with most Klei games, it's been supported for years after release
  • Hats are a quick visual way to tell you which duplicants are good at each skill
  • Huge research tree
  • There's a ton of interlocking systems to play with like gases, pressure, temperature, germs etc etc
  • You're given a choice of new duplicants every few days for expansion
  • There's a huge amount of freedom in how you set up contraptions to manage your base. There's a load of building blocks and working out how to fit the gadgets together to help you survive can be extremely satisfying (when it works. Otherwise everyone dies.)

Cons

  • Extremely steep learning curve
  • Pretty much the whole game's more complicated systems feel like hacky workarounds. In Factorio, everything interconnects in a way that makes perfect sense and can be automated in a way that you can see what's going on. In ONI, everything feels like a hack to get around the fact that both liquids and gases don't really behave how you'd expect. For example, there is no airlock in the game, despite 95% of the game's mechanics revolving around water, atmosphere and gasses. The community has come up with a "water lock" which works because of the way water sticks to surfaces in the game, and is the only fool-proof airlock in the game.
  • Many mechanics are completely unexplained. Even the youtubers who make videos about the game occasionally go "this isn't documented anywhere, but..."
  • I know it's a colony sim, but I hate waiting for duplicants to get around to doing what I told them too. Much rather just build it all myself
  • The liquid physics are weird. All liquid sticks to walls
  • There are things in the in-game help system that don't have entries (micronutrient fertiliser, microchips)
  • With the way that dupes decide on which job to do, I've watched them run to one side of the map, dig one tile, then run to the other side of the map to dig another tile, then run back to the first. This leads to lots of micro-managing priorities to make sure one single big job gets done in one go
  • The game would be unplayable without Google
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