Look, I get it; the Clanfolk devs get it. Storage containers when done properly are an invaluable asset in a colony simulation game. They provide a space for all the junk you're collecting in order to survive the winter, and they even stop items deteriorating as quickly as they would on the dirty floor. The devs at MinMax Games have made it abundantly clear that they're aware of the many benefits of storage containers, but I feel they may have gone too far.
Clanfolk is a brutally lifelike settlement builder, with obvious inspiration coming from the likes of Rimworld and Dwarf Fortress. Rather than being set on a far off planet, or a fantasy world, the game's characters toil away in the very real, very hardcore Scottish Highlands. The winters are harsh up in them-there hills, and Clanfolk embodies one clan's frantic race to climb the research tree before the dark winter months find them.
The trick is to barrel through the tech tree fast enough that you don't get caught with three lone mushrooms to tide you over when the lakes freeze up and the berry bushes wither and die.
You usher your clan through, from barely knowing how to wash themselves into the bread-baking, meat-smoking, Irn bru-swilling Scots you know and love today. Basically, there's a big focus on research, with that being second only to stockpiling—and they really go hard on that feature.
In my initial playthrough, I was thrilled to find myself unlocking all kinds of storage containers. A serving basket to keep berries longer. A meat rack to stop my scrummy eels getting covered in mud. There's even a haystack to gather up all the grasses I've been accumulating. Great, all those are super helpful since there's a much lower stacking limit on floor stockpiles. And considering how slowly these bloody pawns build, there's a real need to squeeze stockpiles into the inevitably smaller, and warmer spaces over winter.
As the game went on, though, it started to feel purely like a container simulator, rather than a colony simulator.
Not only can you craft haystacks and meat racks, there's also a hide shelf, tool rack, straw pile, stone pile, rock heap, branch pile, log pile, clay bin… *breathes* a 'going place' (its for poop), and even a flute rack. Seriously? A flute rack?
It's clear the MinMax Games devs spotted Rimworld's Deep Storage mod one day and went "That! Let's make Deep Storage, the game." The thing is, they're evidently in on the joke, because the icon for the game itself even depicts a little palette with stock on it. I just feel bad for the environment artists when they were told "Yep, we want storage for every material that ever existed, enjoy."
The thing is, all my moaning about flute racks isn't technically a complaint about the game itself. Clanfolk is a great little sim with some surprising features, and once you've got the tactics down the game can be quite relaxing. Really it's my own fault that my clan members spent most of my first playthrough building racks and stacks because I was overestimating. I know now that one gathering basket should do, there's no need to place seven when you first start.
Just something to keep in mind.
Of course, the game's not without its quirks, and it needs a little balancing. There's no way to remap controls in game yet, for example, and the UI is a little haphazard (particularly the research and skills screen). My main gripe is how long it takes for my clan members to figure out how to use oats. I mean, bread is such a basic thing, but somehow they've figured out the intricacies of pentatonic scales before they've even whacked out a single bloomer.
Avoid my mistakes, though, and you'll be able to enjoy the clever 'priority boost' function for getting clan members asses in gear, or the 'repeat build queue' feature for scheduling daily item crafting or harvesting queues. You might even live long enough to enjoy full bars in the 'auto-supply' feature, for keeping your stockpiles full to the brim, or scattered poop holes for fertilising your inedible oats.
Still, these are all minor things I'm willing to look past considering Clanfolk is still in early access. For now, this brave-heart is ready to get her nose stuck into some deep, deep storage simulation fun. See you on the other side of winter.