Writing this review for Dawn of Man has made me reassess what I like in a game. I like shooting things and building things, I also like racing games but RTS games have never been a genre I gravitated towards.
I wrote an article on this very site stating how much I was enjoying the beta access and now I finally get to review what has to be, my favourite game of 2018/2019 and possibly the best game I will get to play this year.
Well, I have been
Dawn of Man sees you develop a community from a small bunch of hunter-gatherers beginning in the Palaeolithic era through 10,000 years of human history until you reach the Iron age and if I am honest, it’s not enough.
I want to carry on, it takes a lot of patience, careful, thoughtful gameplay to succeed and make it as far as the Iron Age and so I find it hard to give up and start again. I want to carry on.
Its unusual that a game comes along that makes me want to do more work, but writing a Dawn of Man review was actually the last thing on my mind when playing.
Not only will you need to contend with raiders and dangerous animals but also the weather, resource management and the moral of your populace.
There will be many trials to contend with, many times have I seen the population of my village decimated due to a famine caused by my own incompetence only to fight back and become strong again.
The way a game looks heavily influences my feelings about it. I think the term is “graphics slag” and in this area Dawn of Man is just about perfect. I am not expecting triple-A levels of sheen but I do want to see people going about their business and interacting with their environment.
The character animations, in particular, the animals, are incredible, the look of the buildings and their progression as you pass into different ages is exactly what you would expect to see and there are small details everywhere. A lot of love has been poured into this title.
Everything changes with each season too. Winter isn’t just more of the same with snow, it starts looking frosty and only towards the end of the Winter will you see snow on the ground. Spring, Summer and Autumn have their own unique looks but the way they blend into each other is first class.
Depending on the time of year there will be different things to accomplish. Hunting animals in Winter is tough, there are far fewer of them around and if you have started to domesticate animals you will not be able to capture them until the Spring and there are young around. Working with the seasons is important.
Planting crops in the Spring makes this a very busy time in the village. You focus your efforts on it, there is time to relax, time to hunt and build in the Summer as you watch the plants grow and then back to being busy again in the Autumn during the harvest to ensure you have food for your village and its animals during the Winter.
You will fall into the rhythm of village life very quickly and it was a real light bulb moment for me when I realised that without a tutorial and with no prior knowledge of how things were or even are done, I was naturally planning ahead to complete certain tasks at the “right” time of year.
In my last game, I was still in the Mesolithic and it was just getting close to the end of Winter. I was worried because I had focused too much on building and gathering during the Summer and Autumn and didn’t really have enough meat to see me through. My villagers were going to be starving soon if I didn’t solve the issue but then luckily a small group of Mammoth wandered close to my village.
The relief I felt was real and I made sure that I assigned more people to hunting for the following year. It was an experience based learning moment, unscripted and powerful. What tutorial could ever achieve that.
Game play pacing is on the money. If you expand your village to quickly and stretch yourself too much you will lose everything. This is exactly what I did the first few times I played. But once I slowed down, tuned in to the seasons, kept the workload balanced and planned ahead the game opened up to me.
Initially, you will need to see the impact your decisions have so you may play the game at 8X speed, the fastest you can. After a few hours you will know what your decision means, you will understand how things will progress so can slow the pace of changes and this gives you more time to make good decisions.
The music in
The animals sound fantastic, apart from the strange sound the Mammoths feet make, it sounds like someone is hitting a comedy drum.
Other than the Mammoths feet the rest of the animals work really well and give you clues about what is around before you look for anything.
Controls are simple, WASD for movement, middle mouse to pan and rotate the camera, which is excellent by the way. You can speed the game up or slow it down with keys 1-4 and pressing Tab will take you into a paused hunter mode. This allows you to identify things on the map like fishing spots, mine locations, animals or even approaching raiders.
Pressing 7 will bring up a workload window which shows you how much work is to be done or being done. Keeping below 150% workload will mean getting things done without a message popping up every few moments telling you the workload is too high. This is genuinely the only thing that irritates me in the game.
Overall the UI is very easy to navigate and extremely intuitive. I can have the information I need on screen and finding things is very simple with the small bar at the bottom of the screen acting as the only real menu system.
Defending your village against raiders can become annoying particularly when they raid you during the harvest but once you have a pallisade to protect the innocent they are usually easily dealt with, even if it seems as though your walls and defence towers are made of glass.
Periodically traders will arrive at your village and I wish I had the option to set up trade caravans of my own as it would be a great way to organise additional needed items in exchange for excess on a more regular and reliable basis.
Writing a review is often a time to reflect about what I like about a game but equally what I would change, what would make it better and particularly what I really dislike.
There are a few minor issues with Dawn of Man that I have already mentioned but for the first time in a very long time I have had to think long and hard to find quibbles.
The difficulty level and pacing of the game is superb, starting with Free play is my recommendation and playing Continental Dawn which is the accessible level is a great place to learn to play the game. There is a tutorial and it is very good however, even without playing it the game interface is so intuitive you will not struggle to progress.
Progression comes in the form of Milestones and once you have achieved 5 you unlock the The Northlands scenario which is condisdered challenging and at 10 milestones you unlock Ancient Warriors which is the difficult free play scenario.
There are more Challenges that are called Bygone tales or Creative mode. The latter allowing you to start in the stone or metal age and the former being made up of four futher scenarios, The Long March, Temple of the Sun, The Shepards and Before Dawn. Before Dawn is set at extreme difficulty and I am yet to attempt it.
I want more, I want there to be so much more in the game, trading with other tribes or even fighting over resources. I would like to see some type of road building, maybe just pathways that develop as you move through them regularly.
Without these additions the game is still incredible, it would be perfect if there was a little more meat on the bones but what we have is nothing short of wonderful.
I have scored the game already and you won’t be surprised that I am scoring this Dawn of Man review 95.6%. This is the highest score I have ever given to any title. It is as close to the perfect game as I am likely to play and I am in love with it.
I review many games, my personal playtime is very precious as I have to spend most of my time playing games to write about. Since receiving Dawn of Man I have spent all of my own time playing it.
To date, this equates to 43 hours. This is 43 hours I could have been playing Metro Exodus which I received at around the same time or any of the 800+ games in my collection. I didn’t I chose to play Dawn of Man.
More to the point, I was supposed to be writing a Dawn of Man review, instead I was just playing the game for fun, any time I had the chance. I am really in love with this game and I hope you will like it too. It is beyond fantastic and if there is one thing you take away from this Dawn of Man review its that I think you should click the link below, buy yourself a copy and thank me later.
As you know, when I write a review my first and only commitment is to honesty, it is you, my readers who make this site successful. If a developer doesn’t want to work with me because I am too honest then rest assured that you should avoid their game but Madruga Softworks have created an almost perfect title and if you can’t tell by this Dawn of Man review its one I am happy to endorse.
Probably the Best game of the year already
- Gameplay - 94%94%
- Graphics - 97%97%
- Sound - 98%98%
- Longevity - 94%94%
- Value - 95%95%
I am yet to play a game that I enjoy as much as this. I have found gaming Nirvana, everything about it is right and I just want more.