New Cycle Review | PC

In essence, New Cycle is a great starter into the genre, and resource management systems however thins out everywhere else.

By SkulD, Posted 19 Jan 2024

New Cycle comes to us from the publisher Daedalic Entertainment, the same name that brought us Barotrauma and the Shadow Tactics series. Developed by Core Engage as their first title, this proves to be a good start in the city builder genre. Given the fact that this title focuses on natural events, development, and interaction with others, players of games like Civilization and Anno 1880 will feel right at home. Using decision-making and challenging scenarios in order to stimulate the player into making hard choices they wouldn't ordinarily make.

Unfortunately, where these titles can have a level of difficulty attached to them, New Cycle proves to be a lot more relaxed. In essence, New Cycle is a great starter into the genre, and resource management systems, however, thins out everywhere else. Despite this, with a unique story and world condition, New Cycle puts a spell on you to see its archaic tale through. Revolving around a solar flare shutting down all of human society, your group is the end of a nomadic era. To this end, you not only have to protect yourself from nature but also from an uncertain future.


Throughout your experience on New Cycle you'll have to deal with building new structures, upgrading them, and researching new goals!
 

At its core, New Cycle is a title that prefers to see the player deal with the dangers of nature and self-creation. The larger your city becomes, the more resources it will deplete, eventually leading to you needing to seek out alternative resources. Coupled with a harsh landscape produced by solar flares, life for humanity has become far worse than it previously was. Because of this, you'll be forced to deal with sandstorms, aggressive lightning, droughts, and floods that threaten to wash society away. Along with these storms, you'll encounter a scarcity of resources, including wind, water, food, and wood. 

After technology has shut down for the most part, save for a few relics, the world appears to be growing over cities and wonders alike. So by your decisions, and strategies a small society grows and either prospers or dies under your command. In this way, New Cycle is very similar to many strategy games, only switching it up by not having a dedicated military system. Instead, you'll focus on such things as mining operations, scouting parties, and trading in order to better your town. Just beware, as the larger you get, and the brighter the light grows, the more that will be drawn to it.

With all of these struggles in mind, we come to the difficulties and challenges of New Cycle. At its root, you're going to need to control your resource pools, take care of your people's health, and produce new research. Dealing with weather conditions, city management, and population growth will produce hardships such as rationing and shortages. You have an infinite number of options for how to combat these issues; however, none of them are surefire to make these problems go away entirely. Threats of sickness and hunger will always be present, along with a shortage of power and medicine to go along with it.


Dangerous conditions exist in New Cycle such as sandstorms, fires, and thunder storms!
 

Because of all of these factors, New Cycle requires the player to keep close attention to all of their systems. However, in truth, these attention zones can be as easy or hard as you make it through your development. If you know what you're doing, the four-year span of time you need to expand becomes virtually easy and, at most, tedious. However, a few rewarding challenges exist that give New Cycle the potential to be something really special. For one needing to explore the old world through scouts could only be improved by adding more options for those zones. 

Naturally, you can build railroads to extract resources from these locations; however, these can be limited and unreliable at best. Another issue with this game is your interaction with far more powerful communities that seek to force your involvement. From a warship to slave traders, you're going to come to meet some very unsavory ideologies making their way back into the world. It's highly regrettable that in most of these cases, there isn't much you can do to handle them besides being neutral. In fact, you'll usually be forced into helping these groups in one way or another or be faced with aggressive human intervention. To this end, this may be the most destructive force in New Cycle save for the obvious solar flares that take place.

Human intervention proves to be the most aggressive or rewarding option in New Cycle. At various points in your playthrough, you'll be introduced to societies that partake in questionable ethics. From deep totalitarianism to slavers, there is no end to terrible groups roaming around the world. Unfortunately, with no military expansion, you can do incredibly little in order to protect yourself or your people from these threats. Perhaps because of this, your diplomacy and ability to macromanage the effects of these groups allow you to survive solely. New Cycle is not a game about military strategy but instead about making hard choices in order to survive the wilds of humanity and nature. 


Power is key to your survival in New Cycle!
 

Solar flares are the final piece of the puzzle that creates extreme difficulty in New Cycle. Acting as both a set piece and a threat, the sun itself is reshaping and flaring. This creates not only a series of events where your power grids will shut off, and you have to struggle to fix them, but also a story plot that builds off human expression. It's interesting to watch how people with no understanding of science look at large-scale cosmic events. In these cases, they produce interesting things like religions, rumors, mythologies, and folk tales that are derivative of our own world. Through that, we almost get to see the rebirth of these societal ideas that are so hammered into our real-world lives. 

While there aren't any experience systems or combat in place, you do have a few unique options for development. For one, buildings come in a series of tiers based on the resources used to develop them. Beyond this, you have access to further development research and even worker upgrades, given the proper training. However, the most meaningful type of upgrade or experience is when you enter a new solar cycle. This implies that you are able to produce new developmental buildings, and it comes from the time and decisions you make as a city planner. In this way, it is very reminiscent of games like SteamWorld Build, where as time goes on, the game becomes more complicated.

Where this becomes a problem is in the fact the game has no meaningful direction it wants to take you with this. Overall, you can choose to make a self-sustaining society, but you aren't going to finish some outright goal. No matter what you try and do, the world is not getting any better, so you're stuck in a shambling rock. On top of this, if you know anything about cosmological events like a solar flare, you basically realize this is all a pointless effort to begin with. Despite this, the struggle for survival can show the brightest and darkest aspects of humanity, as New Cycle tries to showcase.


Farming and other forms of gathering will be essential to survival in New Cycle!
 

The objective problem with this title remains to be that there are quite a few staunch issues with how the story transpires. It's hard to believe, for starters, that in these kinds of societies, there is no military force to be seen or heard from. You are engaged by a warship that openly exploits your small society for resources, and you have no option but to build up defenses so this doesn't happen again. Additionally, there is very little actual difficulty in New Cycle, as a lot of the challenges are easily subverted. For instance, if a building catches fire, just let it burn down and put a new version of it down. The water spent on putting buildings out is far more valuable than the building itself.

A major gripe with New Cycle continues to be the fact that the level of resource management seems complex on the surface. However, as you delve deeper, it's simply just a long addition with multiple variables. So by creating a neat system of districts, these “difficult to manage resources” become a simple task of producing more than you consume. In essence, that is the name of the game, making sure the uptick is more than the consumption rate. Ordinarily, in most strategy games or city builders, this is met with a secondary issue such as an economy or crime. However, in New Cycle, this is the bread and butter of your gameplay, and thus, once mastered, it becomes kind of boring.

To add to that, another gripe is that the second is seemingly countered by the management of your population's health and happiness. However, since these are directly tied to your resource production, they're secretly just the same issue as the second but reconstructed. A similar gripe can be said about power management and nearly every other aspect of New Cycle’s internal mechanics. It's a lot of redundancy of “well, we have a scarce resource” that can be manipulated and farmed out of scarcity. This brings us to the final gripe of New Cycle’s design choices and core gameplay.


Mining and resource cultivation is key in New Cycle!
 

The final and most significant issue in New Cycle is that they offer you scarce resources but don't warn you if those resources are depleting. There is a clearly defined point of replenishment for resources; however, never one given on depletion. This means that all of a sudden, out-of-the-blue wood will be unavailable in all your locations. While this is a simple fix, it proved to be outright infuriating when by the time they tell you, there is zero wood available to rectify the situation. Ultimately this creates an unplayable stopgap that needs to be rectified, as it took two playthroughs in order to subvert this. A simple “resource is depleting” is all you need to add to fix that crucial issue. 

Beyond these issues, there are quite a few things that were enjoyable in New Cycle, both graphically and through its use of music. To start off, this title uses simple animations and graphics to their fullest. Mixing artist-drawn story cutscenes with character design and simple strategy game graphics to create a dystopian world. What's notable is that despite humanity’s broken and desperate state, New Cycle managed to avoid just being dingy and brown. There are times of greenery, harsh winters, and sandstorms that create different color pallets that are ever-changing. Unfortunately, these are limited by the extent of the gameplay, but there is a lot that can be said about some of their effects choices as well.

Fire, sandstorms, and lightning bolts are well-animated and have a scale of alarm in them. They're meant to be the antagonistic forces of the world, along with the beauty of winter. And through them and the designs of the broken landscape around them, you can see how humanity was broken. Still, though, if anything could pop attention to New Cycle, it’d be its use of narrative dialogue and storytelling in order to describe the solar flares. The sun is unseen, though, through the beautiful description and archaic language, we see that it holds the ever-changing focus of the story. And when it does show itself through solar flares, the impacts are felt graphically and mechanically.


Upgrading your mines, and producing new goods will help you have a better cultural standing in New Cycle!
 

Lighting in New Cycle is another feature of the game as the day-night cycle, when paired with the element changes, presents a dynamic world. You can see how power and energy interact with your city as you go from darkness to a blooming bright civilization. Additionally, you can feel the depth of flames, lightning strikes, and how even man's light is blurred by the winter and sandstorms that lurk beyond. It creates a sense of urgency, a sense of hope, and a knowledge that the torch we lit still lingers onward in these strange times within New Cycle. 

Music and sound play an important part in this game's story as they build suspense. Like any strategy game, they choose impactful and dramatic music mixed with ambient sounds and tones. However, there is a bit of voice acting as well that helps out this together as a competent game. The main issues are that good sound and story alone carry a title beyond the gates of being simplistic. That being said, for an opening attempt at a title Core Engage nailed their voice acting and music choices to fit this title's theme and aesthetic!

New Cycle is the first title brought to us by Core Engage, and it has a lot to offer a player just getting into strategy games. If you want to learn resource management and how impactful it can be for a game, then this is for you. However, in all other regards, this will not be the next big title for Strategy game and City Builder fans. In short, if the tones and ideologies shared in this game weren't so extreme, this would be a great game to introduce new players to for city builders. If you want to add more meat to the table, so to speak, adding more difficulty, options per development tree, and more story weight would be best. Lastly, while resource management can be a great method to make a game engaging, it in itself does not build an entire game ethos.



 

It feels as though something is missing from New Cycle, like a spice was out in the cabinet, and they served it anyway. It's hard to tell what, but if I were to pick one thing, I’d have to ask for more to do in New Cycle, maybe more villages or more development options. Until then, unfortunately, it's a mediocre game that needs a lot of love and time before it can be up to its full potential. However, as a final parting note, as a first game for these developers, they did a really good job of making something that works well- and has a great story premise! I can't wait to see what becomes of this title with more TLC.
 

Michael VanDine,
NoobFeed Editor

comments powered by Disqus

NoobFeed

General Information

New Cycle

65/100

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Daedalic Entertainment
Developer(s): Core Engage
Genres: Real-Time Strategy
Themes: City Builder, Simulation, Survival, Sci-Fi
Release Date: 2024-01-18

View All

Popular Articles