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TFM: The First Men demo hands-on preview

TFM: The First Men

TFM: The First Men does for basebuilding games what Tribes of Midgard did for the survival genre. That is, it’s condensed into a much shorter and gameified experience. There’s a time limit, and the real game is doing everything fast enough to avoid a game over.

But how is that different from any other basebuilding game? Afterall, if you’re not fast enough you’ll get steamrolled by the first invasion of hostiles. For that, we’ll need to take a closer look.

TFM: The First Men
Developer: Gathering Tree
Publishers: Gathering Tree

Platform: Windows PC (Previewed)
Release Date: Spring 2022
Players: 1, Multiplayer Option Unavailable in Demo
Price: Unlisted

TFM: The First Men

Despite being a preview, it should be made clear that the demo version of TFM: The First Men may not offer a comprehensive picture of all the game’s features. Not just because multiplayer mode is locked, but also because most of the maps are too.

What we are given, is a single mission. Take a ragtag band of humans and use them to kill a “shard-holder”, a creature of magnificent power investing the prison-dimension of Demoria. The time limit is 60 “years” which are more like days to be honest.

So you’re given your group of humans, you’ve got your mission, and you’ve even got a little hub area under your control. The game then throws you in the deep end with only a quick tutorial. The tutorial is barely good enough to get you started, but it’s definitely not enough to make sure you’re doing things correctly.

TFM: The First Men

There’s five different resources to manage, and the most consequential one is “Path”, an individual resource that allows you to pickup perks and buildings. Fundamentally, I disagree with the decision to lock building behind something akin to experience, but I gave it a shot here.

On one hand, it keeps you from going full Rimworld and just building your base at the expense of everything else. On the other hand, it feels bad to have to spend Path just so you can tell someone to build a hovel, and I don’t mean like research hovels; I mean every single individual thing you build is done at the cost of Path.

What this means is that you need to specialize your people. Some of them will just be batteries of Path in order to build some of the necessities around your ramshackle base. Meanwhile a select few will be the adventurers you send out into the field.

TFM: The First Men

I respect the innovation and originality with this game’s resource management, but it just doesn’t feel good to play with. I’m on a schedule, I have to fiddle with understanding all the little variables of my people. Meanwhile I’m waiting for them to grind enough Path for something to actually happen. To make a long story short: The First Men is not beginner friendly.

TFM: The First Men has the potential to be amazing. Based on what we can see in the trailer on the game’s Steam page, there will be opportunities to actually build more grand bases. While the scenario available in the demo left a sour taste in my mouth, I have high hopes for what this game can ultimately achieve.

Ultimately, TFM: The First Men stands out as a new addition to the base management genre, but will likely be overshadowed by its more polished peers. However it’s worth keeping an eye on this one, based on what the developers show in the trailer there’s a lot more on the way than what’s available in the demo.

TFM: The First Men is launching sometime in spring 2022 for Windows PC (via Steam).

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A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.