Clanfolk Review – Rimworld-like Build-up Strategy in Medieval Scotland – Test

In Clanfolk we are responsible for the survival of a family clan in the Highlands of Scotland – A Colony Sim similar to RimWorld in Review/Test

Clanfolk Review - Rimworld-like Aufbau Strategie im mittelalterlichen Schottland - Test
Clanfolk Review
Rimworld-like Aufbau Strategie
im mittelalterlichen Schottland – Test

Clanfolk is a village-building simulation set in ancient 14th century Scotland. We manage a family clan and learn to survive in the harsh wilderness. The game mixes survival, building strategy, and village simulation in minimalistic 2D graphics.

Check out the review of the 2D building simulation of a Scottish clan in Rimworld-style. In the Clanfolk Review, I show you all the details about the survival strategy game, after more than 30 hours in the game – A unique colony sim that started in Early Access on Steam, Release Date was July 14th 22

German Version:

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This post is available here as text and as a YouTube Video (German Voice-Over, English Subtitles). So you can choose how you like to enjoy it most.

Clanfolk Review Video

German Voice-Over, many subtitles

Clanfolk Review - Rimworld-like Aufbau Strategie im mittelalterlichen Schottland - Test

Clanfolk Review – Intro

Hi there, this is the Zap. In this Clanfolk review, you’ll get a sneak peek at the new building strategy and family survival game. It features 2D graphics and lots of details, and we are building a Scottish clan in the 14th century. I’ll tell you how it plays, what’s in it, and at the end, I’ll give you a rating. But most of all, I want to give you all the info, so you can decide for yourself if the game might be fun for you.

I received a free test key, my thanks for that. However, this should not affect my rating, as I always test all games with the thought in the back of my mind, how would I feel if I had paid full price.

Clanfolk – Background – Indiegame Early Access

Clanfolk Review
Background - Indiegame Early Access
Clanfolk Review
Background – Indiegame Early Access

The game is developed by the small IndieDev studio Minmax Games and published by Hooded Horse. So far, there are already two other titles from this team, Space Pirates and Golftopia (read my Golftopia review here). Clanfolk entered Early Access on July 14, 2022, so it will continue to be developed and provided with more content for some time.

But the current version is already fully playable. I spent more than 30 hours in the game during the test, so it already contains enough content to be interesting for quite a while. Randomly generated maps allow you to create endless new challenges.


Game Type – Survival Colony Builder Strategy

Clanfolk Test
Game Type Survival Colony Builder Strategy
Clanfolk Test
Game Type Survival Colony Builder Strategy

Scotland in the 14th century, the time of the Highlanders, who fight against the invasion of the British into their barren but beautiful Highland idyll. The tribal culture consists of so-called clans. These are kinships that stand up for a common cause with their own rules, coats of arms, mottos, and even unique fabric colors of their kilts.

In Clanfolk, we begin the game as one such newly formed clan. A small family consisting of grandma, grandpa, mother, father, and three children sit on a meadow in the Scottish Highland rain. And you can say they have no idea what they are doing. Because everything you need to survive, they have yet to learn and explore. Build up survival in 2D, a bit like in Rimworld, also comparable to the 3D competition of Going Medieval, let’s see how well Clanfolk will do here.

The game is completely real-time, with day and night changes, weather, seasons, temperature calculation, hunger, thirst, and diseases. Real-time, but there are four speed levels and a pause function. So we start with a small clan. Our brave Scots must first figure out the simplest things. Knowledge essential for survival is missing and must be explored quickly. How do you build tools? How to catch fish or cut grass? And it takes a few days before we can erect simple sleeping mats and a tiny hut.

We gradually progress through a complex tech tree with 250 different knowledge points. These unlock tools, workbenches, goods, and actions. It starts with simple things, like a stone sickle for cutting grass or a sleeping mat made of straw, and eventually, we can make complex meals with bread from ground flour or iron picks for mining in mines, perfect animal husbandry, and trade with other clans.

But it is a long way to get there. There are no enemies, no war, and no dangerous animals to threaten our lives. But still, pure survival through hunger, disease, and cold in winter is already not so easy to master. The goal of the game is to build a perfect settlement and make good contacts with neighbors, accommodate guests and accumulate wealth with production and trade.

Gameplay – Gathering, Crafting, and Survival

Clanfolk Gameplay
Gathering, Crafting, Survival
Clanfolk Gameplay
Gathering, Crafting, Survival

It starts simply with cutting hay, catching eels in a fish trap, or collecting stones and sticks. But after a while, we have dozens of workbenches at our disposal, where we can again make dozens of different items. Almost everything can be harvested and stored in storage areas on the ground or later in special boxes and cabinets, at least as long as our family can find time for it. Because the days are over quickly as the paths to the trees and to the mountain become longer and longer, and the effort for crafting and logistics in the settlement also becomes more and more complex.

One of the biggest challenges here is optimizing walking routes and storing the many raw materials, intermediate products, clothing, food, and tools. Depending on how well you get this mastered, supplies grow or our people are more busy running around, and then at some point, at the latest in the really crisp cold winter, they starve or freeze to death.

Perhaps either there won’t be enough clothes to wear or we’ll run out of firewood. Other dangers include people dying of thirst because the pond is iced over, and unfortunately we didn’t learn how to make clay jugs in time. You need them to scrape the ice off the lake and thaw it by the fire to get drinking water.

With almost every new technology, the most basic dangers become slightly less dangerous. But in exchange, the amount of effort to be organized becomes greater, and the danger that we’ll suddenly get gaps or imbalances somewhere in the long commodity chains increases instead.

And then we also have to generate surpluses so that we can accommodate guests. Because these bring sounding coins into the cash register. And we urgently need this currency to buy missing goods or breeding animals for the farm from traveling merchants and to hire day laborers later. Besides chickens, sheep, goats, and pigs, there are also cattle and all of them have their own products that they contribute to the life of our family, such as wool, leather, eggs, meat, etc.

Gameplay – World and Maps

Clanfolk Review
Gameplay - World and Maps
Clanfolk Review
Gameplay – World and Maps

Clanfolk currently does not offer a campaign. There is a random map generator with three different difficulty defaults where we can choose amounts of forest, meadow, mountain, wildlife, and water, which creates slightly different challenges.

The world of Clanfolk consists of a flat map. Large meadows with different types of grass, lakes, flat ore deposits, trees, and a few wild animals like foxes or hares, there is not much else. I miss real mountains, valleys, and caves, which are missing. But the pitfalls here are in the details.

If our cabin is too far from the quarry piles, where iron ore can also be found, or from the pond, we will waste a lot of time commuting between the mining sites and our home. And if there are hardly any trees or fruit bushes nearby, this quickly creates nasty shortages. So the choice of our starting point alone is already one of the most important strategic decisions.

But, all animals are peaceful, and none of the other clans will attack us. So, weapons, war, and destruction by strangers are not among the problems of our clan folk. Clanfolk is a complete pacifist game at the moment. Peaceful building and settling is the order of the day, but that is still a challenge due to the severe environmental conditions. At least in the beginning, but more on that in the conclusion.

Tech, Graphics, Sound, Engine, Translation

Clanfolk Test
Tech, Graphics, Sound, Engine, Translation
Clanfolk Test
Tech, Graphics, Sound, Engine, Translation

Clanfolk is developed with the Unity engine, this provides a stable base and usable performance. Even on mid-range PCs, you can play the game in full detail, without stutters. And if you turn down a few simple settings in the options, it will probably run on very small systems as well.

Anyway, it ran absolutely crash-free in testing for me on two different PCs. Also in the gameplay, I did not notice any really major bugs, so here Clanfolk is already at the Early Access launch a well-rounded product.

I see the graphics as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s simple, and since there’s only a single level, everything is easy to keep track of at all times, even in complex settlements. Unfortunately, the game characters look very simplistic to me so far. The fact that the inhabitants don’t even have proper arms and legs was off-putting, at least at the beginning. But after some time I got used to it.

The dubbing is somewhere between adequate and mediocre for my taste. Very many actions, production steps, and events have their own sounds. There are a few ambient sounds, like croaking frogs or flocks of birds (although you never see either). Loud rain pattering, wind noises, and pitiful wailing sound when shivering convey the often prevailing cold our Scots have to deal with. But somehow I’d like a little more and a little more variety there.

Clanfolk is available in 14 different languages, all of which have no voice acting whatsoever, but it doesn’t need it in my opinion. However, the on-screen texts, tooltips, and labels of the UI elements are translated well to very well, at least in German and English.

Clanfolk Screenshots – Ingame Pictures

Click or tap into the image for a larger view.
In the enlarged view, you can scroll right and left on the edges

Clanfolk Test – Opinion and Conclusion

Clanfolk Test
Opinion and Conclusion
Clanfolk Test
Opinion and Conclusion

When I first looked at Clanfolk, the graphics of the characters astonished me, in a not-so-good way. And then when they started moving, with almost no animations and completely no limbs, I was honestly a bit shocked and also put off.

But I got over myself, and behind the very sparse graphics lies a complex simulation that made me, at least, forget after a short while that some of the visuals not only look sparse but, sorry for the honest words, just ugly.

In addition, many competitors show that something like this can be done better with simple means. For example Going Medieval, which I also like very much and which I also had in the review. There are other IndieDev teams who show that you can simulate such a game principle also in full 3D and with numerous floors.

After a few hours of getting used to the game, I kind of wished for more here. The world is too flat for my taste, too little variety and 3D graphics or at least several levels with stairs, basement, and attic, would really have been a real asset. Maybe there will be some more “depth” to the game in the course of the next months. But unfortunately, I couldn’t find a roadmap for the project so far, so at the moment it’s not clear what else is planned for the future.

Medieval-technical-terms-jumble

One point that bothered me a bit is that medieval terms are used in part for some equipment. This caused, at least for me, some confusion. This may be a good thing from a historical point of view, but for players who are not that familiar with the subject matter, it can cause problems. I could not always immediately imagine what it is and what it is needed for, whether it is supposed to be a tool, a material, or something to eat. Presumably, this is specifically only true for the German translation, but here they dug a little too deep into the terminology box.

My very big problem with Clanfolk, however, is that despite all the materials, tools, workbenches, etc., the difficulty curve was very unusual. Normally, you start gently into the game and as the settlement grows, so do the challenges. Not so in Clanfolk, because here it’s the other way around, the first winter is actually the biggest danger.

from-survival-becomes-routine

You have to get certain unlocks very quickly and very specifically, like the clay jug or the mushroom dryer. And then you need a supply of food sufficient for the 10 days of winter, which is at least conveniently displayed at the bottom right. In addition, there is a need for enough water jugs and, above all, a thick supply of branches for the campfire, as well as straw and hay for the animals, several demands which are not displayed anywhere. If any of these are missing, there is a really high risk of not surviving the cold season.

This is where the tutorial could be a bit more helpful. However, this section of the game really felt like survival to me, and when my first family died in the winter, I saw this as a challenge. However, once you’ve identified this hurdle, figured out the things you need, and prepared accordingly, the game suddenly becomes very easy. And with each additional technique explored, the end result is that the game becomes even easier, less dangerous, and less challenging.

And at some point, survival actually disappears completely. Then we have only pure organizing of commodity cycles, which can work out sometimes more, sometimes less well. But really dangerous moments won’t really reappear after that, unless you make really serious blunders, like a barn fire that destroys entire storage cabinets. But here the game has good tools to prevent that.

What I’m saying is that the game is thus at its most exciting and challenging right at the beginning, and after a few hours it becomes more complex, but the tension levels off considerably. And way too often you’re sitting there waiting for certain things to finish. And the hardest part is that you have to restrain yourself from scheduling too many sites because otherwise nothing gets done, or you have to wildly juggle priorities.

However, it’s great that there are these extensive priorities for almost everything, which is a big plus. Few games allow such direct intervention in NPC queues and to-do lists. The size of the tech tree is substantial, with 250 unlocks in total to show for it.

Many upgrades, moderate effect

Unfortunately, many of the later techniques end up being just slightly better variations of the previous ones. Different food made with different ingredients on different equipment, but not really changing much. Prettier building components or better clothes that provide minimally better insulation or slightly better mood for the inhabitants, made with other materials on other devices. But really new features come along very, very rarely. And so I still felt that somehow in the end it could have just been more, and especially more ideas would have been good.

When you replace the scarcity of the first winter with extensive fields, trade, and better skills for the inhabitants, the challenge dwindles more and more. I’ve rarely longed so much for dangers, such as wild animals, thieves, plagues, vermin, maybe even a predatory neighboring tribe, or anything that might shake the settled neat system at least a tiny bit. There is a lack of surprises and sudden twists for my taste, and that ends up looking a bit bland overall.

Moderate graphics, Good game, with expansion potential

Summarizing that, there’s a complex simulation, with lots of little details, but presented very sparsely, and unfortunately offering little in the way of tension towards the end. Clanfolk is great for relaxing, coming down after work, or after a stressful day with the family. Comfortably clicking around and using your brain a bit here and there. And then, as far as the frugal graphics allow, pretty settlements in old Scotland emerge. It looks like Rimworld, but currently offers only a fraction of that game’s scope.

The game costs $19.90 or € and offers some replay value due to the random map generator. However, since figuring out how to beat the first winter is the biggest challenge and afterward things quickly turn into a routine, subsequent restarts are less and less exciting. That still leaves a very relaxed puzzle game, which isn’t bad either but offers little challenge or variety.


Clanfolk Review – Rating

When I put the price in relation to the gameplay provided, I would like to give Clanfolk a basic rating of 85 %. A somewhat low replay value due to a lack of challenges gives a 4 % deduction and when it comes to the price I then doubt whether it is appropriate and that is why I would like to go down another 3 % for this. This brings me to a final Early Access launch score of 78 % for Clanfolk.

Since the game is still in further development, and I hope for more features and maybe at least some better-animated characters, I think there is potential upwards. Unfortunately, there is no roadmap yet, so I can’t get an idea of what’s to come from it at the moment.

Clanfolk Review
Rating with numbers 78 percent
Clanfolk Review
Rating with numbers 78 percent

Clanfolk

Zap from ZapZockt.de

Clanfolk Review - Rimworld-like Aufbau Strategie im mittelalterlichen Schottland - Test
In Clanfolk we are responsible for the survival of a family clan in the Highlands of Scotland – A Colony Sim similar to RimWorld in Review/Test

Clanfolk is a village-building simulation set in ancient 14th century Scotland. We manage a family clan and learn to survive in the harsh wilderness. The game mixes survival, building strategy, and village simulation in minimalistic 2D graphics.
Simulation
Complexity
Graphics
Sound
State of the Game (Early Access)
Scope of the Game
Fun per Price-Ratio

Rating

When I put the price in relation to the gameplay provided, I would like to give Clanfolk a basic rating of 85 %. A somewhat low replay value due to a lack of challenges gives a 4 % deduction and when it comes to the price I then doubt whether it is appropriate and that is why I would like to go down another 3 % for this. This brings me to a final Early Access launch score of 78 % for Clanfolk.

Since the game is still in further development, and I hope for more features and maybe at least some better-animated characters, I think there is potential upwards. Unfortunately, there is no roadmap yet, so I can’t get an idea of what’s to come from it at the moment.

3.9

Outro

Do you like scots and surviving deaths in winter? Or are flat, barely animated 2D characters and lots of upgrades with no real innovation nothing for you? Feel free to write me your opinion in the comments or in the community Discord.

More gaming news, game reviews, and guides can be found on the YouTube channel or at https://zapzockt.de – thumbs up click on the video, subscribing to the YouTube Channel and a share with friends certainly can’t hurt. And then I wish you a great day, ciao ciao, your Zap

Clanfolk Steampage

MinMax Games Website

Clanfolk Publisher – Hooded Horse Twitter

Clanfolk Discord


Reading – recommendations:

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