Floodland preview – Age of flooded empires

Floodland is an upcoming survival simulator that takes cues from Age of Empires, while twisting gameplay into unique loops.
floodland game vile monarch

Climate change is the near and ever-present threat that looms on humanity’s horizon. While countries and companies are taking great steps to stem the rise of pollution, reduce emissions, and restore the health and prosperity of the global climate, we could still be heading for catastrophe. Floodland, an upcoming strategy game from Vile Monarch, is a title that tackles these concerns – by presenting the future of humanity in a unique post-apocalyptic wasteland.

In Floodland, you control a group of survivors picking their way through the end of the world. In the gameplay snippet available at a recent PLAION publisher showcase, these unfortunate folks begin life on a simple island, surrounded by polluted waters. As the game opens, several huts have been established, along with a town centre – but it’s largely up to the player to build out every other necessity for these people, including running water, food supplies, and salvaging enough garbage waste to build new homes and treatment plants.

If you’ve ever played an Age of Empires-style strategy game, the set-up will be familiar. As in these games, you’re tasked with establishing a thriving, healthy colony – although the action of Floodland follows a more linear, narrative-based pathway, more akin to survival and societal strategy games like Frostpunk.

It’s not enough to simply establish buildings and kickstart a war here – it’s about taking your time, forging a sustainable path, and advancing your skills and competencies.

Read: Age of Empires IV wants to teach valuable lessons about history

floodland game preview
Image: Vile Monarch

Garbage litters the world of Floodland – but this is a powerful and necessary resource as your post-apocalyptic crew work to salvage the remnants of their society and become stronger. Garbage can be used to establish new homes, as well as to build recycling plants and other essential town locales.

While you will need to scavenge and work for every new advancement – learning how to use rubbish, wood, rubble, planks, and eventually stronger materials, like concrete and metal – you’ll be guided along the way by a light narrative that expounds the challenges facing your people.

First, it’s a matter of gathering resources and finding solid water and food supplies. Then, your goal becomes more complex – to research more technology, to discover more of the secrets hiding on your land, and to start to build out a more well-rounded society. Eventually, this means your people will develop their own strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and culture – with you deciding the course of their destiny.

If you don’t plan well, or choose to pursue less relevant goals in your playthrough, you might lose a villager or two. Your people can starve and die – and that’s what makes the action of Floodland feel much higher-staked than a power fantasy like Age of Empires.

floodland game preview
Image: Vile Monarch

There’s a real sense of urgency that drives Floodland. The threat of disease, and of dying amongst piles of garbage, drives the action forward in a linear fashion. The narrative-focused gameplay makes the stakes feel higher. Time feels short, and your goals are imperative.

This encourages a dire sense of experimentation, as you send your people on further missions to explore each side of your lonely island, and pillage greater wrecks for more resources. The darker side of the island may have richer finds – items that will help you build out your township and maintain health in your community – but there’s no telling what you’ll find in the wilds.

You could uncover a useful tool, or doom your villager to perish. Whatever your choices, your people will be guided by your will, eventually evolving as you make choices about their destiny.

floodland game preview
Image: Vile Monarch

As an exploration on climate change, Floodland is a dire warning – but with hearty management gameplay, and plenty of choices to make along the way, it could also be an engaging strategy game that teaches of consequences, disaster, and the power of garbage.

Floodland launches for Windows PC on 15 November 2022.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.