Between Command and Conquer, Cities Skylines 2, and Civilization, what I like in city builders and strategy games is that everyone, basically, does anything I tell them to do. Run a scouting mission deep into enemy territory, even though we’re just three basic infantry units on 25% HP? No problem. Spend the last of our budget building ten new fountains to try and boost citizen morale? You got it, boss. But a new survival-driven strategy roguelike, published by Payday 3 creator Starbreeze, flips that formula on its head. The world is dark and dangerous, and resources are scant. But you also need to contend with the strong personalities and individual wills of your people. They won’t just do as they’re told – you have to be more subtle. Brutal and occasionally bleak, Starbreeze’s new strategy game will also be available to try for free at the soon-to-arrive Steam Next Fest.
This is The Tribe Must Survive, published by Starbreeze but developed by Walking Tree Games. A strategy game and roguelike, it puts you in charge of a small batch of survivors within a twisted, Lovecraftian version of the Stone Age. Food and warmth are hard to come by. Anyone who leaves the safety of the group and wanders into the darkness is unlikely to return. You need to keep our people safe and try to cultivate a functioning, harmonious society. But there are problems.
First of all, your people are willful and individualistic. They have their own lives, their own wants, and their own agency, and you can’t just order them around like automatons. What you can do however is influence them. Certain buildings will nudge your tribe’s behavior, as will religious ceremonies and rituals. You’re less of a benevolent dictator in The Tribe Must Survive, and more like an unseen, subtly powerful deity. But as well as your citizens’ frustrating free will, there’s another spanner in your works.
The Tribe Must Survive is separated into acts, and each act concludes with a potentially game-ending disaster. Your job is to try and prepare your people for anything that might happen. Stock up on food. Make sure there’s plenty of wood. Reinforce those defenses. Something is always around the corner, and if you aren’t ready, the capricious malevolence of fate will wash you into history. Each tribe is composed of different individuals with different skills, strengths, and needs, so no two playthroughs are the same. How far you can get depends on how much you learn from each bitter failure.
From Monday February 5 to Monday February 12, you’ll be able to play three acts of The Tribe Must Survive for free, courtesy of a new demo launched for Steam Next Fest – just head right here. It’s the perfect teaser ahead of the game’s early access release date, which arrives on Thursday February 22. If you want a tough strategy game with a twist, The Tribe Must Survive might just be for you.