The Colonists is an addictive little world-builder featuring cute robots. And while it doesn't do much to set itself apart from its strategic peers, it's a relatively accessible game, complete with step-by-step tutorials and a gameplay structure that's easy to understand. In a genre where complexity can be a serious hurdle, The Colonists finds agreeable ways to ease you into the experience, and it's better for it.
But that's not to say The Colonists totally lacks depth. The further your robot-run civilisation flourishes, the more there is to manage. At first, things are simple. You build wooden huts, basic water wells, and small farms. These resources are converted into battery energy for your mechanical minions, and naturally, a growing population demands more and more sustenance. You'll soon find yourself expanding, scouting new territory and harvesting the land's many resources so that the cycle can continue.
Then comes the research, and the furthering of science. Your wooden shacks are replaced with stronger materials, dirt paths become busy roadways, and you learn how to coax rare metals from the earth. Bit by bit, your robots attempt to imitate humanity, and it's all very charming. For the most part, there's a nice, relaxed feel to The Colonists that makes it easy to pick up and play — even if it's just for quick ten minute session. And like any good world-builder, just sitting back and watching things work is very satisfying.
Creativity is perhaps a bit of an issue, though. As alluded, The Colonists is pretty straightforward, and the path of progression doesn't allow for much deviation or customisation. There are no difficult choices to make, no branching upgrades to choose from; you just improve and expand upon what you already have, repeating the process until the entire map is filled with bustling 'bots.
But at least in terms of content, The Colonists has plenty for you to do. There's a campaign made up 14 missions — essentially tasking you with colonising different locations. Meanwhile, sandbox mode lets you choose a map, tweak various gameplay settings, and play however you like. We especially enjoyed messing around in the latter once the campaign had shown us the ropes, and taking things at our own pace.