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Flooded Review

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The city builder game genre is one that tasks players with the goal to build the most expansive city, often with time constraints, enemies to fight, and objectives to reach. Flooded flips the script though, putting you in a world with ever rising water levels that seek to shrink the vital bits of land you have to build on.

Flooded offers a campaign mode, an endless mode, and a quick play mode. Campaign and quick play task you with completing various objectives to progress. You race against a clock that shows how long you have until the water levels rise and each time it hits zero, the outermost ring of island tiles will disappear, along with any structures you’ve placed on them.

This means you’ll want to be building in the center of the island as much as possible. However, rocks and trees will block tiles and you’ll need to create special buildings to clear them.

flooded review 1
Flooded – a reversed city builder

The mechanics of the game are explained throughout the campaign. New buildings, combat, the trade system, and more come up as you complete each level. There is a good depth, pun intended, to the mechanics which become clearer the longer you play.

At the start of each game, your base – as well as a few water production and mining buildings – will spawn somewhat close to the edge of the map. There will be several objectives to complete, as well as a resource payment that needs to be made to make it to the next era in that round. Maps are randomly generated and the quick play mode allows you to build out a custom seed where you set the variables, such as island size and difficulty.

Flooded ends when each objective is completed and the final era is reached, or when the water encroaches upon the main base, dooming your group of survivors.

After reaching the electric era, buildings can be upgraded and their production and capabilities improve. This saves on space and significantly improves each structure’s capabilities; a vital mechanic when every building tile is a precious commodity.

However, I am not a fan of the fact that buildings only become more available as you play the campaign. I can understand why they would make it so you need to progress to unlock buildings. After all, most of them get explained as you play through the campaign levels. But there are times when the explanations or tutorials are a little lacking. It seems to be a way to encourage players to finish the campaign before exploring the other game modes.

flooded review 2
Things start to ramp up

That being said, Flooded’s main pain point on Xbox is that it is definitely a game that is meant to be played on PC. The control scheme is done fairly well, but it is easy to see that the gameplay would be much smoother with a keyboard and mouse.

This isn’t a surprise, since many city builder and management style games like Flooded thrive on PC, simply because of the more practical control scheme. It doesn’t help though that you can’t do anything when the timer is paused. Unlike most games where pausing the clock lets you plan things out a bit more, place buildings to build, and so on, Flooded doesn’t allow you to place anything when the clock is paused.

This makes things a bit more frustrating, especially on higher difficulties when time is even more limited. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it wasn’t something I was crazy about.

What surprised me most about Flooded is the amount of time that I was able to sink into the game, again, pun intended. The campaign levels on average took me around 15-30 minutes to complete each, which by itself will give you several hours of gameplay. The dialogue and story are a little cheesy at times, but I would much rather Flooded have fun with things instead of being too serious. After all, they could’ve easily made the game a several-hour long lecture. Personally, I am glad they didn’t.

The Endless mode comes with an interesting approach as well. After all, it seems counterintuitive when the island shrinks with every round. Eventually there would be nothing left, right?

flooded review 3
All the tools…

Well yes, in the normal modes that would be true, but in Endless mode, after every few era progressions, the island will expand, all as the environment becomes more hostile. As you progress, you’ll need to salvage more and more resources. This means more buildings, more mines, and maximum efficiency. Even though you get that extra land periodically, it doesn’t always feel like enough to overcome the amount of production you need.

During a normal game, you may need enough storage for around 10,000 or so resources. In the endless mode, that number can quickly become two to four times as high, with nowhere to go but up.

Flooded scratches that itch of optimization that city management games are all about. There are plenty of mechanics to take advantage of, but the game doesn’t punish you an excessive amount if you don’t want to use them. But as I got more comfortable with everything, I started actively wanting to take advantage of elements I wasn’t very interested in at first. A great example is the trade system. I didn’t use it much during the campaign unless I needed to, but during the endless mode I found myself relying on it heavily in later stages.

It all comes together to ensure that Flooded is a unique take on the city building genre; a game that can hold your attention for several hours with ease.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Good variety of gameplay mechanics
  • Unique take on a popular genre
  • Many hours of content
Cons:
  • Would play better with keyboard and mouse
  • Campaign needs to be completed to fully enjoy Quick play or Endless modes
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Forever Entertainment
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Release date and price - 23 February 2024 | £TBC
Ryan Taylor
Ryan Taylor
Grew up playing the Nintendo 64 where I fell in love with the Legend of Zelda series. As I got older though my console of choice changed, first to PS2, and then finally to the Xbox 360, which I've been playing on for over a decade now. And since my first day booting up my Xbox, I've upgraded consoles and even built a gaming PC. Because at the end of the day I just love gaming.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Good variety of gameplay mechanics</li> <li>Unique take on a popular genre</li> <li>Many hours of content</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Would play better with keyboard and mouse</li> <li>Campaign needs to be completed to fully enjoy Quick play or Endless modes</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Forever Entertainment</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch <li>Release date and price - 23 February 2024 | £TBC</li> </ul>Flooded Review
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