Review – The Colonists (Switch)

I can’t help but love a good city building simulator. Even though they were meant to be played on a PC, as they are always designed with a mouse interface in mind, I always look forward to playing ports of said games on consoles. Especially on the Switch, as being able to create entire civilizations on-the-go will never get old. Even when I have to put up with confusing control schemes and the occasional underwhelming graphical downgrade. Time to see if indie darling The Colonists, originally released in 2018, underwent a smooth transition to Nintendo’s handheld system.

The Colonists Fishing

Why do I need to fish if we’re a bunch of robots that don’t even have mouths??

This is a game in which you control a group of small robots in a brand new planet, with the objective of creating a brand new colony, a brand new civilization for them to thrive on. In order to do so, you’ll need to start from the basics: you’ll need to create residential huts, collect water from wells, fish or plant vegetables to feed your workers, and so on. Yeah, it makes no sense why a bunch of robots would need to be fed with fish, or demand for apple juice later down the line, but I stopped caring about this game’s premise shortly after I started playing it. I figured there was no reason for me to care, which was for the best.

The Colonists is really slow at first. Collecting resources and researching new perks and buildings takes ages. Setting up your initial infrastructure is stupidly boring, especially if you end up in a map devoid of resources, such as fish or iron. The confusing UI and control scheme, which doesn’t feature touchscreen support for some nonsensical reason, only adds insult to injury. You’ll need to spend some time playing The Colonists‘ campaign mode (which doubles as its lengthy tutorial section) in order to understand how the hell this damn thing works. But once you do, boy does it become a joy to play.

The Colonists Colony

Not gonna lie, I feel very proud of my completely messy metropolis.

The game becomes exponentially more entertaining once you finishing researching the first construction upgrade pack in your workshop. By doing so, you’ll be able to access a ton of new buildings, upgrades, and resources to collect. You’ll be able to build ships and explore the ocean. You can also improve the quality of your roads, vastly improving your logistical prowess. You’ll even be able to sell resources via a spaceport, as well as fight against rival robot factions if you end up meeting during a playthrough, although this can be toggled off before creating a new sandbox map. The moment you figure out that your city is able to survive on its own thanks to the logistical infrastructure you’ve planned, you can’t help but feel proud of your accomplishment.

Another thing that impressed me about The Colonists, most specifically its Switch port, is its performance. It runs at a smooth 60 frames per second at all times. It doesn’t matter if you’re in portable mode and if your city is packed with buildings and robots performing their tasks: the overall performance remains as rock-solid as it can be. The game isn’t exactly graphically complex, being mostly comprised of low-poly assets, but it does have its charm. The little robots are adorable, resembling a colony of little Wall-Es minding their own business. The soundtrack isn’t anything special, but it’s calm and soothing, just like the rest of the game.


“Yep, that’s my job. I look at a handful of trees all day long…”

The Colonists is a game whose main gameplay loop makes up for how underwhelming its controls and excess of busy work can be at times. Not exactly the most creative of city builders in the market, but just like most of its peers, once you figure out how to properly make your city grow in a sustainable way, you won’t be able to stop playing it. If you can put up with its confusing interface, then this is a must for fans of Tropico and Sim City.


Graphics: 7.0

It might not be the most detailed game out there, but the robot designs are cute. The game also runs at 60fps at all times, even when your colony is huge and you’re in portable mode.

Gameplay: 6.5

The developers did what they could when trying to port a mouse-based control scheme to a console, but some of the interfaces end up being way too confusing, especially due to the fact there is no touchscreen support.

Sound: 6.0

The soundtrack is a bit repetitive, but it’s calm and soothing, just like The Colonists as a whole.

Fun Factor: 8.5

It can be utterly frustrating at times, especially during the first few moments of a new save, but once your colony grows, you won’t be able to stop playing.

Final Verdict: 7.5

The Colonists is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of The Colonists was provided by the publisher.