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Challenging survival city-builder Landnama is out now

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Landnama from developer Sonderland scratches a very weird itch as it mixes exploration, survival and city-building into one and it's quite a challenge too. Note: the developer sent me a key.

The developers say it gives you the "thrill of a dungeon crawler with the vibe of a city builder" and they're not wrong there. You start off with a single tile and a mostly empty map, with you needing to explore tile-by-tile to expand and hopefully survive the coming winter. You have a single resource, heart, which is used for everything and there's no second chances for failure here with an ever-increasing challenge.

It's a real-time game too, so it's not quite like Civilization although you can pause any time. You need to stock up hearts because when Winter hits, it will take a whole bunch away. Shown in the screenshot above, at that point I had 18/25 hearts and winter will cost somewhere between 9-14. When Winter does hit, it will flick between 9 and 14 and you hit a button to lock in a number (hopefully a lower one). You could attempt to chance the Winter toll, but it can get pretty difficult to land it on a good number.

The problem is deciding where to explore and what buildings to put down, so that you can increase your gradual heart production while also keeping enough back for the Winter. Landnama sprinkles in random events too, some of them can be pretty devastating but others are just a mild inconvenience. Either way, you need to try and be prepared for anything but easier said than done with the randomness of it.

It will take quite a while before you really get somewhere, and you're quite likely to have complete failure on your first few runs. Thankfully, each run doesn't actually take that long and you get multiple chances to play through it each time. When one civ fails, you pick another to carry on your saga.

Eventually you'll get to a run where you've got the exploration and survival aspects down, and you'll start getting a decent amount of heart in each time so that you can expand and not worry too much about Winter. One of the keys is the adjacency bonus of buildings. As you explore, you'll want to salvage some buildings and move them to a better location to allow you to get more heart production so it's a constant game of studying the map.

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With it now released the developer has been listening closely to feedback on the difficulty and replay value, and they've said they do plan to add in a bunch of extras to address having more to do on repeat runs and they've already addressed one problematic point of the difficulty so I look forward to seeing what they add in future.

The Linux version of Landnama worked great with no issues at all. If you're after a game that will challenge you but still remain somewhat relaxing to play then it's a good choice.

Available on Steam with Native Linux support.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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1 comment

Jarmer Aug 3, 2023
I tried the demo but uninstalled it. It's extremely punishing. If you fail, there is no way to quit and restart.

For instance, there is a "normal" tribe that I would consider the easier difficulty tribe, that has no negative attributes. So I picked that one on my first go, and failed during a winter, so that tribe is now considered dead. Not possible to quit and restart. Now I can only choose the more advanced tribes that all have positive and negative attributes, which just makes it even more complicated and difficult.

I just don't have the time for that. Sorry game. All that said, I really do think the game is made well, the art is fantastic, sound is great, and thought that went into the turns etc... All good. It's just made for people who really enjoy quite the challenge!

Last edited by Jarmer on 3 August 2023 at 2:36 pm UTC
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