After the freeze, life continues. You're expected to pick up the pieces and help New London continue it's overall existence and humanity's survival. But what if you weren't more than an expendable outpost meant to help New London survival at the cost of your everything?
We've so far seen the "before the freeze" and "during the freeze," but what about after? On The Edge, the new DLC for Frostpunk takes on that question with aplomb. Through sheer determination, we have seen humanity's survival during the harsh, frigid winter, continuing to use every possible trick in the book to do so, but what about after things have calmed? Surely Earth cannot continue growing colder and freezing day after day, so what happens once things have stabilized? You end up being part of an expeditionary force that finds one of hopefully many caches left hidden across Britain. The site of possible supplies and more, you're tasked with collecting and supplying New London while attempting to survive in what's ultimately a suicide mission.
One of the best pieces of On The Edge is the fact you are, in fact, "on the edge." You're not in total control, your livelihood is based on a "city" over a day's trek away, and you're not even really doing anything other than supplying them with steel and steam cores. You are invested in keeping things running at a bare minimum while helping someone else.
Sounds like the U.S.!
But seriously, you're expendable. Your outpost, as much as you may love it, is nothing more than a lucky shot at trying to get more supplies back to New London, which in itself is a small, seemingly dying colony of survivors in the frozen wasteland. You don't get to set rules, and you certainly don't get to have your own heater. It's a neat experience, especially once you realize New London honestly doesn't care about your survival. Once things are up and running, you may lean on them. Ultimately you're playing the same Frostpunk as before, but with at least one hand tied behind your back.
It added a neat edge to the gameplay for this scenario - you're not the one truly calling the shots. Does New London need those supplies immediately? 24-hour shifts are in effect! What about the need for additional labor? Put the children to work! You're handed down your marching orders and don't have a full say in what they are, but you are given a choice to decide upon using them. (Admittedly I did use the child labor though, I needed the boost immediately).
The challenge here is in how you balance your needs versus New London's demands. They'll keep you stocked with some food, but do you need to sacrifice some lumber and workers to start scouting nearby locations for more? What about using that steel to help create fire pits around the camp to keep everyone warm and healthy to continue doing the work expected of you? This delicate game of balance affects your favor with New London, who will call you (or you can call them) to discuss what's going on and what's needed from either side. Lose too much favor, and they'll cut your rations or worse. Currying favor will help you continue to gain much-needed supplies and support, but it's never more than "just enough" to keep pressing on.
On The Edge plays like the rest of Frostpunk, albeit with some caveats. I enjoyed playing with at least one hand tied behind my back, but I never felt in control of my outpost. Calling back to New London meant I had to wait for their new laws, or food deliveries, or whatever have you. I was merely a subset of their survival trial, and at that one, that didn't matter. However, I had fun. The environment and tech have some new stuff to use to your advantage, and you're not beholden to New London if you want to set out for yourself a bit in terms of scouting nearby locations for supplies and survivors.Note: Frostpunk: On The Edge was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.