Review: Mermaid Colony
Today, I’ll be reviewing and explaining the gameplay of Mermaid Colony, a charming little building and survival game.
- Release date: September 2019
- Developer: m_hanka
- Duration: around 10 hours
- Difficulty: very high
The pace is slow but the game itself is fun and very challenging.
I restarted three times after my colony crumbled down under enemies and earthquakes, each time telling myself I’d do better the next time with improved knowledge. I then finished the game in about 8 hours.
If you are not familiar with the genre, you will probably feel a little lost at first. Let’s have a look!
Like in Dawn of Man, this is a game where your workers will move from being idle to working automatically on specific tasks once you add new objectives.
For example, suppose you decide to build a new farm so you can gather and feed your mermaid workers.
Well, you’ll need a few resources to build it, which can each only be gathered by specific mermaids. And another that’s specialized in building stuff to take the resources from a warehouse, bring it to the construction site and do the work. And also a hauler that fills the warehouses with processed items that the workers create at the crafting stations, and so on.
You get the gist of it.
Now, the goal is to grow your colony to survive the earthquakes and enemies that will appear over time while keeping your workers happy. A happy worker is one that is well fed, that has a place to sleep and that still has faith in the almighty underwater gods.
If you grow too fast, you’ll have a shortage for precious resources and things will probably turn sour. Slow, careful growth is the way to go.
Enemies and earthquakes
Once hunger is under control, the main challenge for your colony will be the dark monsters that remove all light and constantly attack either your buildings or your workers.
There is also something named “spawn” that removes all light and slowly burns gatherable resources around them. They’re annoying since they spread over time and I found them to be very hard to deal with in the end-game :
The secondary challenge is earthquakes. They seem to happen every few minutes and will instantly deal damage to all your buildings.
Once your buildings lose enough durability, you’ll have to repair them and doing so requires a lot of work and resources. I’d say keeping things under control with the added pressure of buildings crumbling down everywhere is the greatest challenge of the mid-game.
Faith and magic spells
In addition to a health bar and a hunger bar, each worker also has a “faith” bar that has a direct impact on the speed at which they can move and work on tasks.
If their health goes down, faith will go down. Which means both fighting enemies and starving brings faith down. The food thing can make for funny situations because if a worker is starving and its health is going down from starvation, he’s going to want to eat food. But his speed goes down from the faith drop. So he might not get food fast enough and just die on the way.
It happened to me more than once.
The other way workers lose faith is from going to places where there is no light. Like, units that enter the fog of war.
This leads to interesting situations!
For example, you might need to mine obsidian to progress further, which happens to be located in an area without light. If you send your miner there, his faith will drop and he’s going to be super slow.
So the right thing to do might be to build a lighthouse to get some light. But if you do that, you’re going to need a new huntress that can patrol around and defend the area around the lighthouse because otherwise, it will be destroyed by enemies.
In addition to having an impact on the worker’s speed, the total amount of faith gradually unlocks magic spells that are, I believe, key to beating the game.
Here are a few useful ones…
- Satisfy hunger: feeds all workers in a large area.
- Repair buildings: repairs all buildings in a large area.
- Replenish minerals: brings all minerals to full capacity in a large area.
- Kill spawns: destroys a bunch of spawns in a large area. In my playthrough, this spell was mandatory to win.
At $9.99 for about 10 or 12 hours of playtime, I think the game has fair value.
It is difficult and I wouldn’t recommend it for a complete beginner at base building/survival games, but if you’re used to them and looking for a challenge, you definitely won’t regret purchasing Mermaid Colony.