If you enjoy building cities, planning out their layouts and managing their functions, then Cliff Empire is a game you should look into.
While I have only ever had a passing interest in city management games (reserved mainly for the satisfaction of watching them burn), Cliff Empires’ low price tag and interesting premise drew me in.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the surface of planet earth has become a frozen, irradiated wasteland due to excessive nuclear war.
Before this nuclear winter set in, however, the few remaining humans were able to construct immense artificial cliffs, though they more resemble vast towers, before fleeing to an orbiting space station.
These cliffs are tall enough to rise above the radiation level of the planet’s surface and allow for habitation – some even have lakes filled with fish.
Your task is then to settle several of these cliffs and create a stable, functioning society to allow the population on the space station to return home.
It’s a novel idea for a city builder, and perhaps my fondness for Frostpunk talking, but I’ve always liked a more desperate situation over peaceful suburbia.
Building a new world
When you start the game, you’ll have two or three randomly generated cliffs to work with, each regarded as its own city and getting a stockpile of basic resources – food, water, batteries and so on.
With these resources, you will begin building your cities, residential buildings, farms, etc.
As your city expands, more citizens will arrive from orbit to take up residence and expand your workforce, allowing you to construct more and more buildings to satisfy your city’s growing needs.
While food and water are essential, and if you run out of them, people will begin leaving, there are other resources you have to consider.
Commodity items like wine, fruits, fish, furniture, and appliances – each with a separate building needed for production.
As you meet your citizen’s needs, you’ll also need to keep the lights on, which brings in power production.
In Cliff Empire, there are three ways to generate power: wind turbines, solar panels, and nuclear power plants.
The first two options are environmentally friendly but don’t generate nearly as much power as the power plants.
So you’ll have to balance the environmental impact of your city, and if the air becomes too powerful, people will become dissatisfied.
And all these must be considered regarding the finite amount of space you’ll have to work with on each cliff.
A problem that becomes more prevalent the larger your cities grow.
While you’re managing your city and contending with the numerous needs of your citizens, limited space, and the environmental impact of your industrial buildings, there will be random events you’ll have to deal with.
These can be natural disasters such as earthquakes, severe storms and blizzards that cause havoc with your city base functions.
But it also includes raids from pirates.
Yes, not only is this a city builder, but it’s also a base builder, as now and then, a fleet of pirate vessels will arrive to steal your resources and lay waste to your cliff cities.
You’ll build static defences and shields to combat them and even field your own airforce.
These brief combat instances are a nice change of pace and offer some entertaining visuals.
Overall, Cliff Empire’s gameplay is deceptively simple to grasp and offers enough challenge and variation to provide an enjoyable experience.
If you enjoy city builders and want a change of place, you should definitely try it.