When I reviewed Stranded: Alien Dawn back in April, my main complaint was that it lacked variety in terms of its creatures and biomes. Fast forward just 6 months and developer Haemimont Games has already addressed that complaint and then some, following a couple of major updates such as the Sow and Sell expansion and the Jungle update. Returning to dip my toes in the new Robots and Guardians expansion I was immediately impressed by how many more options there are now when beginning a new scenario.
For a start, there are now four different world types to choose from, as well as different planet types that affect the make-up of your world. You can always search for specific “Seeds” online if you want to begin on a specific world, but I find it more appealing to go in blind. There were three scenarios to pick from when I reviewed the full release, but the main draw of Robots and Guardians is that it adds a fourth, brand new scenario that once again changes the game.
Sow and Sell introduced a scenario wherein your “survivors” were traders setting up shop on a distant world to harvest new and unusual flora, hunt unique fauna, and generally thrive and prosper as merchants and farmers. Robots and Guardians, however, gives an action-packed new scenario wherein your three survivors have rescued an android known as Hope and crashed during the escape attempt. As a result, you’ll be hunted and hounded by enforcer bots out to recapture or destroy Hope.
Whereas the survivors you choose have specific skills in, say, cooking, combat, crafting, or construction and you select people based on those skills to ensure the best possible chance for your fledgling colony, Hope comes with zero skills beyond Intellect. She can’t cook, fight, build, craft, or contribute to the camp beyond researching and carrying things. However, she soon begins to learn, and as she reaches certain milestones you can assign new skills to her that she can then develop.
What this means is that you have something like an RPG character that you can design however you choose to to fill gaps in the group’s skill matrix. She also doesn’t sleep, so you can have her research and study – or work, when she’s able – while the rest of the camp is sleeping. Oh, and she doesn’t eat, but does consume fuel at mealtimes. Periodically you’ll be attacked, but not just by giant bugs and scorpions; now you’ll be assaulted by robots aiming to take Hope back no matter the cost to your camp. You must defend her or fail the scenario, and it becomes increasingly difficult as time passes.
Elsewhere, though, this remains the same as the base game in terms of progression. You can develop some new items such as laser pikes and swords, and build and deploy mobile defence turrets and war drones. But this is no major change to the status quo if you’re a player who ignores scenarios and plays in a more freeform way. That said, the base game also receives a free update along with Robots and Guardians which improves on house and building construction, and has new visual styles for furniture and items more in-line with the futuristic setting.
If you’re still playing Stranded: Alien Dawn, the Robots and Guardians expansion is kind of a no-brainer. It doesn’t add a ton of new stuff, but what it does add feels substantial in the ways it alters the game and gives you entirely new ways to play. Hope adds a very interesting new dynamic to the camp, allowing you to control her development and her role in the group, provided you can survive long enough, of course.
Stranded: Alien Dawn was already a fantastic survival game with more than a hint of RimWorld and The Sims 4 about it, but the Robots and Guardians expansion builds upon that in intriguing ways to make the overall package feel that much more robust. A definite must-play for fans of the base game, and an excellent option for people looking to get into the colony survival genre.
New scenario is great
Adds some good free updates
More ways to play
Can still feel skewed against you