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The Alters (PC/PS5/Xbox Series, 2024) - a "weird" sci-fi base-building/survival title featuring "alternate versions" of the protagonist from the developers of This War of Mine and Frostpunk

Commissar SFLUFAN

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To survive on a lonely planet, Jan creates alternate versions of himself - the alters. Each alter’s personality is shaped by Jan’s various life paths. The Alters begs a simple question surrounding life-changing moments and the decisions people make: What if…?



Jan Dolski is a simple worker who faces impossible odds. Crash-landing on a distant planet, stranded and alone, he seems trapped with no way out. Jan’s only hope for survival is to employ additional helping hands on board his mobile base… but how? Improvising as he goes, Jan uses the local Rapidium substance to create alternate versions of himself: THE ALTERS.


Have you wondered how your life would change if you chose a different path in the past? Who would you become? Jan Dolski is about to face answers to these questions which makes the predicament he is in even more daunting. Each one of his alters has a different personality and background as his life path is a result of a specific change in Jan’s life.

To return home, Jan must not only get along with his alters but also face some crucial choices he made in the past. The decisions he will make based on that can occasionally put someone’s life at risk. The question is – are you ready to deal with the consequences of these choices?


The planet Jan has landed on is slowly turning its face towards a giant sun. This means that radiation levels can quickly reach a critical level. Survival on this unforgiving planet is a death race, so the base Jan lives in must remain on the move. This, of course, is far easier said than done. The planet is highly inhospitable and filled with many difficult obstacles our Jan will have to overcome.


To move across barren landscapes you need food, fuel, and other precious resources. Luckily, your base is ready to extract them from the surface of the planet. The only problem is that finding these required resources might prove quite challenging… and the time to do so is running out.


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  • Commissar SFLUFAN changed the title to The Alters (PC/PS5/Xbox Series) - a sci-fi base-building/survival title using "alternate versions" of yourself from the developers of This War of Mine and Frostpunk

Recent previews from Gamescom:



RPS got to see an early build of 11 bit Studio's new management survival game The Alters at Gamescom, and first impress…



What exactly is The Alters? It's a question I've been itching to get answers to ever since Frostpunk and This War Of Mine developers 11 bit Studios first announced their strange new game at notE3 last year. Until now, all we've had to go on is a cryptic CG announcement trailer that showed a gaggle of identical clone-looking men in bright pink medical gowns, all of whom seemingly live inside a giant wheel full of shipping containers. It didn't really tell us anything about what the game actually is, or how it plays, and we've heard precious little about it since.


Happily, I've now seen about an hour of The Alters in action at this year's Gamescom, and first impressions are very promising. This is indeed a game about sort-of clones living in a big wheely shipping container, but these containers are actually modules you'll be building in XCOM/Fallout Shelter-style chunks to advance the capabilities of your big wheel base as you work to escape the broiling heatdeath that's slowly enveloping the planet. You'll also be venturing out onto the planet's surface to gather resources, all while managing your crew of clo- sorry, alternate selves - as you assign their daily work tasks, and then there's the fact that, well, you're all chuffing different versions of the same person and the literal embodiment of what your life might have been like if you'd done X instead of Y, or Y instead of Z. It's a fascinating blend of ideas, and if 11 bit can stick the landing, I reckon it could end up being something really quite special. Here's everything I learned.


To his credit, even game director Tomasz Kisilewicz describes The Alters as "a weird game" at the start of my hands-off presentation. It centres on the story of Jan Dolski, "a man at the crossroad of his life" who goes on a manned mining mission to try and turn his fortunes around. Alas, it's not long before disaster strikes and leaves him as the sole survivor on this now very large mobile mining vessel trundling across the planet's surface. He has neither the skills or enough hands to run it by himself, and there's also the small matter of the "giant sun" rising behind him that will definitely finish him off for good if he doesn't find a way to escape.



There's a detective element to some of these emotional cues as well. Kisilewicz explains that we might come across situations where we can see an Alter is frustrated by something, but we'll need to probe deeper to find out exactly what it is. How exactly we'll go about doing that remains to be seen at this point, but I suspect it will be through checking in with them regularly when you're back at base, diffusing arguments between them, and making sure they're assigned tasks that suit their particular skill sets. Many hands might make light work, but your Scientist will naturally be quicker at researching new technologies, say, than your Miner, Technician or Botanist.


Similarly, some Alters might make requests of you to help improve their living space to make them happier, such as building a gym to help let off some steam, or seeking out specific ingredients so you can cook more nourishing, nutritious food. It sounds like it will be a delicate balancing act, weighing up their emotional needs with the jobs you need them to perform while also dealing with this melting pot of clashing personalities - and the irony is that if anyone goes wrong, you've really, quite literally, only got yourself to blame.




IGN saw a hands-off demo of the upcoming science fiction game, The Alters, and it's looking extremely trippy.




The video game industry’s love affair with science fiction is as old as the medium itself, so it’s no minor statement when I say that 11 Bit Studios’ The Alters is perhaps the weirdest sci-fi game I’ve ever seen. This bizarre survival game is packed with weighty building mechanics and social links, and every time I thought the 40-minute demo couldn’t get any wilder, it defied my expectations by throwing yet another curveball. Whether it’s the planet’s rising sun that threatens to burn you into oblivion or the giant wheel-shaped base that serves as your home, the Rapidium miracle element that’s Earth’s only chance at survival or the alternate reality clones of the protagonist that serve as your companions, The Alters is perhaps the most high-concept science fiction game of all time – and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I quite enjoy weird science fiction stories myself, and there’s something about The Alters’ extreme weirdness that gives it a neat dreamlike quality that’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. That’s definitely something to get excited about.


In the Alters, you play one version of Jan Dolski, a space-faring captain on an expedition to a remote world that’s gone horribly wrong, seeing you stranded on a planet with a slowly rising sun that will kill you if you let it. While waiting for help to arrive, you’ll need to pilot your mobile command base across the surface of a hostile world, and that can’t happen on your own. To assist you, you’ll need to gather resources to build alternative versions of yourself called Alters, who are pulled from the multiverse where Jan made different life choices and became a different person. This way, you can find a version of yourself who became a miner to help with gathering raw materials and another version who became a scientist to assist with research and development of new technologies.


Not only do you have to contend with keeping your base fed with supplies and solving obstacles to move the base along the planet’s surface to stay out of range of the sun, but you also have to manage the various alternate versions of yourself, who each have their own baggage, needs, likes, and dislikes. In the demo, one version of Jan struggled with opioid addiction after being involved in a mining injury, and constantly caused issues with his unpredictable behavior, while another conflict arose between two other Alters who disagreed over how to best use resources. Keeping tabs on everyone’s mental state and engaging in dialogue sections to resolve disputes and gain understanding of each of your clones’ mental state already seems like it’s a tough balancing act somewhat early into the game, so I can only imagine how complex that gets as you add more and more Alters.





Just a man and his Alters.




In terms of gameplay, The Alters is a base-building survival game where players will have to utilize their Alters to explore their surroundings, gather resources, construct outposts, and more all to ensure the survival of Jan and his Alters. But players will also have to manage the relationships and well-being of their Alters. Not only is each version of Jan useful for its sheer manpower, but each one has its own distinct skill sets.


In the presentation we saw, one of the Alters complained about a strange and abnormal sensation in their hand. However, even though Jan assured the Alter they would get it checked out, events kept occurring that preoccupied his time. In the end, the Alter ended up taking matters into his own hands—quite literally—and dismembered his own limb. It seemed like a stark reminder that the feelings of the Alters matter. They are each their own self, not to just be used as an asset.


From both a narrative and gameplay perspective, The Alters looks very intriguing. By the end of the presentation, I wanted to know more. And with past outings like Frostpunk and This War of Mine, I can only imagine the adventure that awaits Jan and his Alters.





Frostpunk and This War of Mine developer 11 Bit Studios is heading to space for its next new IP: The Alters. We caught a brief look at this quirky project last year when its announcement trailer showed a man coming face to face with, well, himself. Lots of himself, actually. This initial CGI trailer gave fans lots to think about as it also revealed a Ferris wheel of a base that can roam an alien planet as it hauls around the troop of clones. However, at the time of its...




If I had to put The Alters in a box, I would describe it as a story-driven, base-building survival game, but even that doesn’t quite do it justice. When you return to your base, you’ll be greeted by Jan’s clones. If you’ve been keeping up with 11 Bit’s marketing for the project, then you’ll no doubt know Jan’s alternate-reality counterparts have been given the spotlight – and for good reason. These clones, called Alters, have all been created by Jan, and are physical manifestations of ‘what if?’ scenarios from his life.


As the original Jan, you have the freedom to explore these different branching moments from his life through what 11 Bit calls the Tree of Life. This in-game system is a visual representation of our character’s history, with the player able to choose which Alters to bring to life based on their needs. For example, let’s say you require an especially intelligent crew member to perform tasks around the base. In the Tree of Life, you can find and create a version of Jan who left dating behind, focused on school, and became a scientist. On the other side of the coin is a version of Jan that focused on his love life, so if you need an Alter who’s a romance expert, you can bring him into your world, too.





The Alters is a resource management game where players don't just have to find resources, but directly deal alternate versions of themselves.




My hands-off demo began with Jan out on the gray, desolate planet he is trapped on with his Alters. He’s looking for a way to cross a lava river with the circular base he and his alters live in before a devastating sunrise. Some rocks blocked Jan’s path, so the developer started looking for resources. From a vantage point, he saw some metals he could potentially mine in the distance. One of these was radiated, so the developer went for the safer materials.


Mining in The Alters isn’t always as simple as hitting a rock with a mining tool. While scant amounts of resources are available like that, the most meaningful batches of materials are found underground. To find these, players must travel to the general area where resources are located and set up polygonal scanners to get a reading on what’s underground. After discovering the main deposit of resources, players can then build a small mining outpost tower to collect what’s there.


Much like Death Stranding, these tools remain in the world and leave a mark on the planet’s surface that serves as a reminder of the player’s actions. For now, the developer playing had all of the resources he needed and headed back to base. This is where The Alters got really interesting. Base and Alter management is a big part of The Alters. At a basic level, it functions like base-building does in games like Fallout Shelter.





The Alters is a sci-fi management game where you manage a group of your own clones.




Jan's Alters aren't just AI-controlled workers with no thoughts of their own. Sometimes they disagree and need you to step in to moderate, and other times they just want to chat with you. A word cloud of their current emotions appears above their head to help you navigate conversations with them and choose the right dialogue options. This approach struck me as oddly mechanical for a game that seems to be trying to fold potentially deep conversations about the choices we make in our lives with resource management, but the demo was too short for me to get a read on how important studying their emotions will be.


The voice acting did a lot of the heavy lifting in a scene with Miner Jan, the one who lost his arm but has it back again. He tells your Jan that he still needs pills for the pain and becomes addicted to them within a few days. He gets angry when you refuse to give him more and the demo ended with him cutting his arm off in revolt. How you manage your Alters and the decisions you make for how you'll run the base determine what problems arise and how smoothly your escape goes.





Have you ever thought about the drastically different life you might have had if you'd made a single decision differently? I've certainly got my...




Have you ever thought about the drastically different life you might have had if you’d made a single decision differently? I’ve certainly got my own version of this – I met the partner I moved halfway across the country for through the Friendship is Magic fandom, so if not for my decision to watch a children’s cartoon that I’d already been a little skeptical about, I’d probably still be living in the Philadelphia suburbs where I grew up.


In that other world line, what’s that version of me doing? Would he still be writing? Would he have stayed at that retail job? Would we even like each other if we met? These kinds of questions are what lies at the heart of The Alters, a sci-fi survival title from 11-bit Studios that I recently got to see in a hands-off presentation that left me extremely curious.



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  • Commissar SFLUFAN changed the title to The Alters (PC/PS5/Xbox Series, 2024) - a "weird" sci-fi base-building/survival title featuring "alternate versions" of the protagonist from the developers of This War of Mine and Frostpunk
12 hours ago, TUFKAK said:

Dude do you actually work wtf 


9 hours ago, Greatoneshere said:

Frostpunk secretly snuck up on me as a great game. I wasn't aware they were making a resource management game before Frostpunk 2, which they are also making. I'm definitely intrigued.


Have another preview article!


As far as The Alters is concerned - the new game from the This War of Mine team 11 bit Studios - every time we reach a …




As far as The Alters is concerned - the new game from the This War of Mine team 11 bit Studios - every time we reach a major junction point in our lives, another version of us is theoretically created. Had you chosen to pursue a different subject at school, for example, it could have led to a different career. That's maybe an obvious example but junctions can apparently happen because of many things - hobbies, friends, relationships. Where might we have ended up?


This question is central to The Alters, because here, we can realise these different versions of ourselves and even manifest them by bringing them to life, where they'll work alongside us. Hence the game's name. And we will have to, because in The Alters, we're in a race against time to survive.


In the game, we are Jan Dolski, a person working for some kind of sci-fi mining operation, and we've become stuck on a planet and are in danger of being fried by its nearby sun. If we don't get out of the way before sunrise, we'll die. But getting out of the way is not so simple, because we'll also need to move our entire base. Fortunately for us, it's wheel-shaped, so it can be rolled, but there are environmental challenges like lava-filled canyons to navigate along the way.




It's a glimpse of a game that intrigues me but also leaves me slightly confused. This War of Mine had a much clearer idea - living as a civilian through war - whereas The Alters seems more speculative and fragmented. Is it a mining game? Is it a survival game? Is it a game about clones? I think it's trying to be all three, but I'm not yet convinced it's managed. But like I say, I've only seen a glimpse, and if it turns out to be anything like This War of Mine, I'll be happy.


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  • 2 weeks later...

The Alters takes multiple out-of-this-world ideas and aims to make a cohesive package of story and gameplay mechanics.




Each Alter comes from Jan's Tree of Life, which highlights various key decisions that can yield different alters. Each of these key moments, the devs tell us, was designed to be relatable, as Jan's life is meant to resemble the common man. There are no situations such as defusing a bomb, for example, but whether someone stayed in their hometown, took a certain job or opportunity, got married, stayed together or divorced, and so forth. They are also created in ways to create interesting interactions with one another, as Jan's Miner alter is the polar opposite of his Scientist alter, for one example. The time limit of the sunrise also ensures players can't make them all, and so they must create those they deem helpful or interesting.


During our preview session, we saw a handful of the alters players can make, and players indeed make them. While it was not explained in full, players will use Rapidium and other resources to create a body and mind from the Tree of Life, bringing them into this timeline. This leads to some interesting scenarios, as the Jan Miner in his timeline was missing his arm. The act of us giving him a new body and a new arm led to a sort of phantom pain, which spurred his painkiller addiction. Players can either stop him in his tracks or enable him, with the choice coming up time and again, until he eventually cuts his arm off. The Jan Scientist was very mission-oriented and liked it when it was going well, but he was not happy with any decisions that detracted from it. And another one we were making, Jan Botanist, made a choice to move with his wife and retain the relationship, while the main Jan had forced his wife to stay home, leading to their divorce.



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