One of my favorite genres of indie video games are resource gathering automation games. Basically you gather resources to expand your base. This allows you to gather and refine resources faster and build even bigger and better things. When I first saw Nova Lands I was intrigued as it seemed like the type of game that I typically really enjoy. Nova Lands may not be the most original game in its genre, but it is kind of addicting and is a game that fans of this genre will likely really enjoy.
In Nova Lands you play as an explorer that lands on a new planet. With only a few resources on hand you need to build up a base to survive on the planet.
To start the game you are given a basic weapon and a tool that allows you to gather resources from the planet. You will use your tool to gather things such as wood/twigs, water, and basic minerals. You can further refine these resources with various buildings. To construct buildings you need to gather the corresponding resources.
As you explore and continue to grow your production facilities, you will unlock additional lands which give you access to additional resources. Some of these lands have enemies which can attack forcing you to use your weapon to defeat them. You will meet other explorers who you can purchase upgraded equipment from. You will also gain experience which you can use to unlock additional skills and research new technologies.
Theoretically you can play the entire game doing everything yourself. This is far from efficient though. Thankfully you have access to a number of robots that you can build to help you out. There are three different types of robots you can build. One gathers resources for you, one quickly transports resources to the areas that need them, and one attacks enemies that get in your way. By using these various robots you can automate most of your supply chains. This allows you to focus on exploring and expanding into new areas.
For fans of open world exploration base building games, Nova Lands might not initially seem like the most original idea. The game does share a lot in common with other games from this genre. Nova Lands’ gameplay is pretty similar to games like Forager. This is not all that surprising because most games in the genre tend to play pretty similar. This is probably Nova Lands biggest issue.
If you can get past the fact that Nova Lands is similar to other games in the genre, I think you will really enjoy it. I am a big fan of this genre of games, and Nova Lands does a good job recreating what I enjoy about it.
I think one of the game’s greatest strengths is that it does a good job streamlining the mechanics. Nova Lands is quite easy to pick up and play. If you have ever played one of these type of games before, you should be able to step right in and start building up your world. Basically you collect some resources and refine them. Then you use those resources to collect and refine other resources. This process repeats as you begin to build more and more advanced goods and expand your base.
While the premise is quite straightforward, the gameplay is quite satisfying. Obviously the game is not going to appeal to you if you don’t generally like these type of games. At times it can be a little repetitive collecting a bunch of resources just to refine them further to get better resources. This is not going to be for everyone. I found it to be quite satisfying though. It excels as the type of game that you can enjoy while relaxing.
One thing that I really like about the game is how it handles automation. At first you have to acquire all of the resources yourself. Pretty early in the game you acquire the ability to create your own robots. This is key to the game. You can use them to focus on the more mudane tasks such as collecting and transporting resources. This allows you to focus on exploring and developing other more advanced supply chains.
The robots are surprisingly easy to setup. On each island you create an antenna and add the robots you want to it. Each island has a limited number of robots that can run on it. Once you add a robot to the antenna, you then just give it basic instructions. For the gathering robots you just tell them what type of resource to gather and where to drop off the matching resources they find. It works basically the same for the other two types of robots as you pick something from a drop down list and then they start working. After you setup the necessary robots you can basically let them do their job while you work on a new thing.
I would say a large majority of the gameplay is built around gathering resources and creating automated supply chains that refine those resources. The game does have some exploration and combat mechanics, but they don’t play a large role in the game. There aren’t a ton of different islands to explore and they aren’t that big to start with. The combat is pretty straightforward as you have a weapon which you just aim and fire until the enemy is dead. The combat isn’t particularly challenging and you should rarely if ever die. Death isn’t much of a punishment either as you are just sent back to your starting island.
As for the game’s controls I would say that they are pretty good for the most part. I would probably recommend using a keyboard and mouse over a controller though. Controllers work fine, but it is just easier to interact with the game if you are using a mouse and keyboard. Using the controller requires more button presses and it is sometimes harder to select and place things where you want them. The game is still enjoyable with a controller, and if you prefer to play it with one it is still enjoyable.
Lets move onto the game’s length. I really can’t give you a definitive length as it is the type of game that depends on what you want to get out of it. If you just speedrun though the game doing the bare minimum to reach the end while getting all of the upgrades, I would guess it would take at least 10-15 hours. You likely will want to build up the industries though and automate things. In this case I think it could take 20-30 hours for you to complete everything the game has to offer. If you are the type of person that just likes to build and optimize your base though, you could probably get quite a bit more time out of the game if you wanted to.
Ultimately Nova Lands ended up being pretty much what I was expecting. The game is your typical exploration automation base building game. You explore the world gathering resources to refine to further expand and build out your industries. In theory this is similar to quite a few other games. If you don’t generally like these type of games or are looking for a completely unique game, you probably won’t get it out of Nova Lands.
Despite not being the most original game, Nova Lands is still a great game. I would start playing the game and a couple hours would pass without me even noticing. The game does a really good job of focusing on the most enjoyable aspects of this genre. It is really engaging building up your base. The game does a really good job streamlining the automation process where you can focus on expanding rather than micromanaging. The gameplay loop of gathering resources to unlock additional things for you to build and produce is kind of addictive.
Basically my recommendation comes down to whether you enjoy these type of games. If you enjoy a good exploration resource automation game, I think you will really enjoy Nova Lands and should seriously consider picking it up.
Release Date: June 22nd, 2023 | Systems: PC
Developer: BEHEMUTT | Publisher: HypeTrain Digital | ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Genres: Automation, Base Building, Exploration, Open World
Official Website: https://novalandsgame.com/
- A fun gameplay loop of gathering and refining resources to build up an automated base.
- Easy, satisfying and oddly addicting gameplay.
- Not the most original game as it shares quite a bit in common with other games from the genre.
- Is not going to be for people that don’t like resource gathering automation games.
Recommendation: For people who like automation resource gathering base building games.
Where to Purchase: Steam
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank BEHEMUTT and HypeTrain Digital for the review copy of Nova Lands used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.