Follow TV Tropes

Following

Video Game / Frostpunk

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/frostpunk.jpg
The city must survive.
Advertisement:

Frostpunk is a survival-based city-building game released on April 24th, 2018 by Polish developer 11 Bit Studios, the makers of This War of Mine.

The game is set in a post-apocalyptic 1888, where ice storms have ravaged the world and left only small pockets of civilization around heat-giving generators.

Unlike the majority of city management games, the game includes emotional and survival aspects with having to manage meagre resources and passing laws to prevent the populace crossing the Despair Event Horizon, which involves giving them hope to survive by working together, or by fear and terror and forcing them to do your bidding under penalty of death. The default scenario, A New Home, has the player assume the role of a Captain who's in charge of New London (named as such if the city survives); additional scenarios (The Arks, The Refugees and The Fall of Winterhome) involving other locations are unlocked after surviving for 20 days in A New Home. Later on, an "endless mode" was added, with different settings: Endurance, Builders (where players have to build a generator) and Serenity.

Advertisement:

The developers added a handful of new DLC expansions:

  • The Rifts, with new gameplay elements, a new building and a special "endless mode" map.
  • The Last Autumn, a large story based prequel to A New Home where your goal is to create a generator for Liverpool's evacuation before the bitter cold sets in.
  • On The Edge, the final chapter of the game, where you play as an outpost rather than an area with a generator.

Glass Cannon Unplugged used Kickstarter to fund The Board Game adaptation, Frostpunk: The Board Game, in 2020.

A sequel, Frostpunk 2, was announced in August 2021, set in the same universe 30 years after the first game, following a new technological breakthrough with the discovery of oil.


Advertisement:

Frostpunk contains examples of these tropes:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • The cold mechanic works more like a subtraction modifier to building warmth. It's a good thing that's all it does considering it can get cold enough to freeze carbon dioxide.
    • Building and road construction and disassembly can take place at any time of day or night, without any regard for the temperature outside. The same workers who spent the whole day gathering resources can still spend all night putting up houses without any penalty.
    • For gameplay purposes, children are just as effective at any workplace they can work at as adults, except with a chance of getting injured or killed while doing dangerous jobs. If you have full child labor implemented, you can have children doing a variety of tasks, from the physically strenuous woodcutting and mining to healing patients on the brink of death, without any adult supervision. Child labor would be next to worthless if children couldn't do those tasks as well as adults in the same building, as using children would limit the output of any such building, when resources and space for extra buildings are highly important factors to consider. However, for some reason, children can never be employed as hunters, as well as staff for Order/Faith buildings (except the House of Healing).
    • Engineers are qualified to work any task requiring education of some sort. The same engineer who built an automaton also has the knowledge needed to practice medicine and heal people, and the knowledge of psychology needed to make effective propaganda. Adding another category of citizens for different skill sets would needlessly complicate things and make your workforce much less flexible, removing a lot of decision-making potential.
    • Once created, the Scout and Outpost teams essentially stop having any sort of needs; they can go for days without any food, no matter the temperature. The only way to lose them is to either disband them personally, make a story decision in an event that results in their death or leave them outside the city when the storms are coming. Even when they return to your city, they don't have any needs for warmth or food. Having to micromanage that would most likely be too complicated since you're already busy with your city and figuring out where to send the parties as-is.
  • Achievement Mockery: You get an achievement for failing the Serenity version of Endless mode. For context, Serenity provides the basic resource gathering structures without having to research them, survivors are easier to come by (thanks to storm shelters having tons of them that periodically appear on the scouting map), and you start off with more survivors and resources in general. Basically the only way to fail is to do so deliberately by using overdrive on the generator for essentially no reason at all, or by not assigning the citizens anything to do for the first few days.
  • An Aesop: If you manage to save New London in the "On the Edge" DLC, a title card points out that this was only possible through co-operation.
  • After the End: The entire premise is rebuilding civilization after an apocalyptic ice age.
  • Almost Dead Guy: In A New Home, if you don't go scouting Winterhome soon enough, a straggler from there collapses outside your shelter, telling you of its demise and leading to the Londoner movement.
    • This happens a few other times, with one marking the beginning of the refugees about to reach New London, and another arriving from New Manchester in The Arks.
  • Alternate History: The introduction begins with an unexpected temperature drop in 1886, throwing entire civilizations into chaos. This accounts for the Steampunk-style technology for the setting. While the generators were constructed to provide sanctuary, many of them were unfinished, with working examples inactive by the time survivors reached them.
    • The in-game lore also reveals the split occurred earlier in at least 1822, with Charles Babbage successfully completing his Difference (and later Analytical) Engine projects, early attempts at mechanical calculation and computing. Decades of improvements later would result in the improved technology seen by the game's late 1880s.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: For most players, the whole survival routine may seem like an artistic license, and the techniques used as a metaphor/fiction... Until you remember that nearly all of these were actually used during the Siege of Leningrad in real life in 1941-1944. Working around the clock to sustain infrastructure (plus produce weapons for the front), fighting cold and apathy, inventing ways to cook the inedible things (yes, these sawdust meals and growing lichen recipes were used... and corpse-eating too), sending kids to schools just to pretend that something is normal, not to mention church and guards trying to keep the situation under control and give people some sense of hope. The game is fiction, but it does not bring up anything that never existed in our own reality.
    • The Arks are unintentionally based on a real event from the same Siege. The Seed Fund of Leningrad (tons of hand-picked grain and seeds) was opened after the war and found completely untouched, in a city without a single cat, rat or a bird left. Scientists kept the seeds warm (after moving numerous specimens from the Pavlovsk Experimental Station), sometimes with their own bodies, but did not dare take any for themselves over the course of three years of starvation.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The Arks ends before the storm strikes. The ending does not mention the ultimate post-storm fate of the arks other than "We did our best". Except when the player never finds New Manchester, then the end message states that it was found frozen to death after the storm.
  • Amputation Stops Spread: Citizens with grave illness (typically mild frostbite) can only be cured through radical invasive treatment unless advanced medical facilities are available, and will sometimes become useless amputees as a result of the surgery. However, with the right laws and tech, prosthetics can be fitted on them which returns them to the workforce.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Workshops are one of the best-insulated structures in the early game, which is a godsend when you get your first temperature drop. Some other structures automatically improve their insulation level when they are improved (like Steelworks).
    • Workshops were also updated to speed up research if the tech being researched was near completion at the end of the working day, so no more having it sit on a tech stuck at 98% completion for a whole night anymore.
    • In The Arks, you only need to send the supplies to New Manchester to save that city. Those supplies don't actually have to arrive before the big storm comes. This means players still win even if they only got their last supply shipment out an hour before the storm hit.
    • In The Last Autumn, you receive a message from London: the Frost is coming and after a week or so there'll be too much ice to send any more supply ships to you. They'll send an icebreaker a few days after that to get you out, but you'll be completely isolated until then, left to survive and finish the generator and any optional upgrades with what you have got there. It can be immensely stressful, but if you manage to finish the generator and ALL optional upgrades before the shipments cease, you simply evacuate on them instead, avoiding the entire last part of the scenario.
  • Anti Poop-Socking: Courtesy of the loading screen.
    Remember, your people need to eat and sleep from time to time. So do you.
  • Apocalypse How: While it is difficult to tell, it appears to be a class 2 or 3b. While humanity has not gone extinct there are only a handful of cities left, and the population of these cities ranges from a few dozen to a few hundred. What's worse is that it appears there is a high failure rate for cities as half of the cities encountered in the game have collapsed. What we know for certain though is that this a combination of volcanic eruptions in southeast Asia, the Sun cooling, and a possible meteor strike in Patagonia have plunged Europe and North America into an endless winter and caused crop failure and chaos in the Southern Hemisphere. If one piece of information potentially found in Endless Play ends up being true it could actually be a Class 3a, caused by a superweapon called "Saffron Cloud" developed by an unknown nation. However, this was considered malicious slander by the pre-Frost British government, who insisted that such information be suppressed to not cause undue political calamity or distract scientists desperately researching the causes in an already dire situation.
  • Apocalyptic Log: If you fail to save the Seedling Arks and New Manchester in the Arks, the game over entry is one of these.
  • Arc Words: A different set for each scenario. "The City Must Survive" for A New Home, "Our Legacy" for The Arks, and "We Will Never Submit" for The Refugees.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The poor citizens in The Refugees possess this viewpoint, as they were to be left for dead in London by the wealthy Lords before deciding to take over the Lords' ship and go to the generators themselves. The scenario involves dealing with the tension that builds when the Lords eventually show up to the city. While the Lords do have legitimate reasons to be resentful, having had their ship stolen and being forced to make their grueling, frostbitten journey on foot, they remain quite arrogant and entitled, such as demanding to be served first as nobility even in a city where the poor have made 'equality' the watchword.
  • Artificial Limbs: A law can be signed allowing steampunk-style prostheses to be manufactured in factories. Amputees who get outfitted with these become fully able to work again, to the point that they cease to be counted as amputees entirely.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • If you've built Care Houses, the gravely-ill will prioritize them over going to Infirmaries for treatment. This can cause problems if you have too many Care Houses, as the sick will sometimes steadfastly refuse to be treated, pile up, and die, even if there are perfectly vacant slots in the actual medical facilities themselves. Having this happen near the climax of any given scenario can be hair-tearingly frustrating.
    • Sometimes, citizens will refuse to eat rations because they're busy elsewhere, or in medical care. There's no way to give direct orders to individual people (save to remove them from employment if they're working), so the only option is to shut down or demolish the building they're staying at. This can get truly problematic in The Refugees where one objective is to feed all the people before time runs out.
    • Some buildings stop working if they get too cold. If that happens, anybody working out of them will still report in for their shift, risking severe frostbite and death in order to sit around doing nothing, unless you go in and turn the building off.
    • If you take the path of faith, citizens will insist on going to evening sermons even if they are gravely ill, often resulting in their deaths from going untreated.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The temperature can drop to past -50 degrees Celsius and you can still hunt and acquire large amounts of food from wild animals. Very few animals can survive in such conditions, let alone in such numbers.
  • Artistic License – Physics: In Endless mode, the fortnightly storm, instead of advancing on your city from one end of the map will close in from all corners of it. What makes this odd is that this is only in Endless Mode; in both A New Home and the Arks, it advances like a normal storm.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The game received an M rating, very likely as a result of two rare instances of the word "fuck" (with very high discontent, a citizen can occasionally say "I wonder how our glorious Captain's going to fuck things up today?" or say that you're doing "fuck all") in a game which otherwise has only mild swearing and nothing which would be out of place in a T-rated game. The Last Autumn expansion gives a few more, mostly directed at problems your worksite faces.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: While the concept of Charcoal Kiln (a structure that converts wood into coal) is impressive, the infinite numbers of coal made by coal thumper made it more efficient than relying on wood to make fuel.
    • The charcoal kiln however uses fewer workers than the coal thumber and with wall drills you will have an endless supply of wood to convert into coal.
  • Auto-Doc: Automatons can be assigned to Medical Posts and Infirmaries after researching (or being given in an event) Medical Automatons, thus replacing the human Engineers which would normally staff these facilities and implying this trope.
  • Bad Boss: You can be an amazingly tyrannical one in several different scenarios.
    • In The Fall of Winterhome, you can prove to be even more of a dick than your predecessor by putting in the bare minimum effort to quell unrest, as well as following through with the horrendous laws you inherited from him by your own, worse additions. Basically, as long as you place priority on the Engineers, who are required for the endgame, you can just leave everybody else in the city and run for the hills as soon as the dreadnought is ready to go. As the cherry on top, you can deliberately send the generator into exploding just before you flee.
    • The Last Autumn lets you be a literal Bad Boss by neglecting all work site amenities and labour safety measures, on top of prioritizing the completion of the generator above all by dooming your employees to their deaths when accidents happen. At best, you can just order new workers from Britain to replace lost hands. At worst, you'll have to deal with worker strikes, which can be suppressed if you sided with the Engineers, or bargained out of if you chose the Workers. You can even cut all possible corners on the generator itself and book it out of there as soon as it's finished, leaving the soon-to-be residents of New Liverpool with a much more grim fate than Winterhome itself.
  • Base on Wheels: Dreadnoughts are large tracked steam locomotives that traversed to the Frostlands on the now-frozen sea, which can move on ice sheets but has the possibility of being trapped by collapsing ice sheets. In the game, the Dreadnoughts are found abandoned with salvageable parts when scouting across the landscape. This plays a major role in the Fall of Winterhome DLC scenario, where one crisis in the story tries to get one of them restored when the generator is about to explode.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Among the few animals hardy enough to weather the Frost are polar bears. In one encounter in Endless mode, your scouts may happen upon a sled train that was wiped out by polar bears. This is good news for you, though, since you get to take the Steam Cores they were moving...
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The end-game scenario of A New Home involves surviving a superstorm event that drops the world's temperature up to -150°C. If players manage to make it through, the superstorm will end with the temperature returning to normal. No matter what happens afterward, the city (now New London) is the only known civilized site left. Depending on the player's actions in establishing laws, the citizens may express pride at not having "crossed the line", or wondering whether the sacrifices were worth it after all.
    • The Fall of Winterhome, even in the best-case scenario, has your evacuated citizens gloomily mourning those left behind in the city, hoping that someone will come by to bury them. The Dreadnought sets out into the white unknown, in search of greener pastures.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: If you sign New Order or New Faith, raise discontent to 100%, and fail to lower it in two days, you will be arrested and taken to the execution platform by the very guards/Faith Keepers who impose your will over your city.
  • Both Sides Have a Point:
    • Mechanics-wise, either Extra Rations for the Ill or Overcrowding. Extra Rations is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, providing food for the sick and allowing them to recover faster. At the same time, it costs precious food rations that everyone depends on having. Overcrowding works because you are not dealing with contagious diseases (except possibly common cold) but with frostbite and injuries. It generates discontent, but at the same time, it doubles the number of patients at a medical facility which, technically speaking, also doubles the speed your sick people are being treated AND it frees up more space for other buildings. It basically comes down to which you prefer in a game run.
    • Taken even further with The Last Autumn DLC wherein you have to choose from two factions which are the engineers or the worker's unions. The advantage of the worker's unions are to keep your workers happy and to shut down strikes peacefully and cheaply (while later on if you decide to be a tyrant, you can force them to work in incredibly dangerous conditions and keep motivation up permanently with daily executions); but on the other side, we have the engineers, who by their very presence will make the workplace far safer and just a bit later make the work far more efficient (and if you're still having problems with striking then you can later basically enslave the workers, with enough supervision by armed engineers). Both undoubtedly help production at first for their own reasons but if you take them both too far, it will lead into cruel tyranny, which ironically both factions accuse each over of at the start.
  • Brainwashed: The branches of the Book of Law on the Purpose tree give you several options for keeping your people manageable. The later options involve building a propaganda center or declaring yourself to be the bringer of God's will, and the final options on each branch involve executing dissidents. Once you take either of the Purpose branches to the end, your people will be completely dedicated to your order/faith, to the point where they will often go overboard of their own will on things like vigilante justice (tying people up and leaving them out to freeze for avoiding work) and book burning, and getting angry at you if you deconstruct the buildings of order/faith you use to enforce your rule over them. In "The Last Autumn" DLC, if you choose the union laws path and go all the way, the place will devolve into a mass-murdering communist cult (killing three people a day while chanting about the glory of the working class).
  • Bread and Circuses: One way to satisfy the population is to construct fighting arenas for entertainment. In addition, the "Faith and Spiritual Strength" path is built on this trope with churches and preachers.
  • Bury Your Disabled: When investigating Nikola Tesla's city, you learn that he left disabled members of his expedition to die on the way to it and later on killed those who became sick by exiling them. When you face the refugee crisis in A New Home, you can choose to invoke this trope by only accepting the healthy refugees.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • A New Home forces you to pick between Order or Faith to continue past a certain point. As some annoyed players have pointed out, that means that the ending narration will inevitably have some kind of imaginary atrocity to accuse you of by the ending, lest you not grasp the gravity of the situation.
    • The player does not have to proceed through the entire Order or Faith path and can get away with only some of the early and milder laws passed. As long as you do not choose the last two extreme laws in the sequence, you will get an ending stating that in spite of everything, you "didn't cross the line." However, in the Faith path, picking the Religious Denunciation law is considered "crossing the line".
    • In general, it's flat-out impossible to withdraw a passed law, even when the circumstances change, the most egregious example being Child Labor vs. Engineering Apprenticeship. Extra working hands are sorely needed on the initial stage, while rapid research grows more important later, but nope, you're stuck with the former, and also branded as a child exploiter.
  • Call-Forward:
    • "The Fall of Winterhome" has several of these for "A New Home". There are several events and occurrences that line up with what is discovered in A New Home, implying that canonically the New Captain of Winterhome didn't evacuate all the children onto the Dreadnought, allowed people to panickedly evacuate to the Freshwater Springs, left the Automaton on snow-sweeping duty on the bridge, sent a scouting team out towards New London in the hopes of spreading the word of Winterhome's demise, and so on. Yikes.
    • "The Last Autumn":
      • An IEC telegram later into the scenario reveals Lord Craven from The Refugees was the (at the time) new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
      • Your foragers can stumble upon a lost trailer carrying Generator parts meant for Winterhome. You have the option to return them to the convoy that had lost the parts, though since the parts were already damaged when first found, it's debatable whether it would have made a difference to Winterhome's ultimate fate.
      • A very subtle one if taking the Workers' side is that in the end, it's implied that the revolutionary socialist workers are planning to spread their rhetoric throughout the British Empire as much as they can before the world is completely frosted over — considering The Refuges has a large number of Refugees commandeer a dreadnought originally meant to carry The Lords by force, it may imply that the workers' anti-Imperial sentiments at least partially inspired The Refugees into action against The Lords.
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: The start and end to every workday is announced. Pursuing Order allows the Captain to construct Agitators, loudspeakers that blare motivating messages to increase work efficiency.
  • Central Theme: What people must do to find a balance between hopes of a better future and the pragmatism of survival in a frozen world.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: The generator must be given coal for it to produce heat, which radiates out in a ring around them. As your city builds up, coal consumption will increase as you need to expand that heat radius outward. New steam hubs can be built to provide a secondary, smaller heating area.
  • Choose a Handicap: In The Fall of Winterhome scenario, once you've fixed up the town and examine the generator that blew up and caused all the damage in the first place, your engineers tell you the generator is unfixable and won't last much longer until it completely shuts down, which kills your town's Hope. You have no choice but to set up a Citywide Evacuation, but you have two choices: tell the people you have no idea where you'll be going, which adds a permanent work efficiency penalty, or lie about another settlement you can go to and gain some Hope back. However, you'll later have to either kill your engineers to uphold the lie or let the truth spill out and piss of the townspeople even more.
  • Church of Saint Genericus:
    • Cities that choose the Faith law path can build, prayer houses, temples, and shrines. While these buildings resemble Christian churches, cathedrals, and steeples respectively, they don't use the crucifix as their symbol and the actual tenets of this faith are left vague apart from implied monotheismnote 
    • Building chapels is a non-ideology law in "The Last Autumn", where it's all but certain that they're Christian given the name of the building and hosting of evening services. Which makes sense, given that these are people of Britain from before the Frost.
  • Chummy Commies: Zig-Zagged with the Workers in "The Last Autumn", who are explicitly referred to in socialist terms (forming a Labor Union, London warning the player about "syndicalist" agitation, and eventually quoting Marx's "from each according to his ability") - on the one hand, they start off reasonable enough, protesting the unsafe and deprived working conditions, and when they organize a strike, they can be negotiated to pass new laws that benefit them (Hearty Meals, Comfortable Quarters, etc.), or simply gave extra rations or shorter work hours to end the strikes early. They also stand in opposition to the Engineers, who coldly promote efficiency at best, and turn the project into an outright Penal Colony at worst.
  • Citywide Evacuation: In Fall of Winterhome, this becomes the only option due to the generator gradually going critical beyond repair. Once the citizens find out, the Hope you worked hard to build up will plummet again, and you can either lie about another city they can escape to (which will come back to bite you later) or suffer a work efficiency penalty. The only way out is to fix up the nearby abandoned Dreadnought and get as many people in there as you can afford to. The bare minimum requires a lot of surplus coal. For the best case scenario, you need a massive amount of steel, nearly every Steam Core available, and enough food rations for the trip. You also have to stop the citizens from trying to escape on their own.
  • Constructive Body Disposal: The Last Autumn DLC has two cases of this, both as a result of siding with engineers over workers.
    • After using Strike Busting to break a strike, you can get an event in which a worker disappears, and you are given the option to allow people to search for them. Regardless of what you choose, the worker won't be found. After this, one of your engineers will later confess to you in person about having a lethal altercation with the worker (a strike organizer) and disposing of his body by dumping it and covering it with cement in the generator construction site, and asks if he has your blessing. You can choose to praise the overseer for a good job (which makes strikes less likely in the future but leads to workers occasionally "disappearing") or to punish the engineer.
    • Convicts that die working on the generator construction site do not get kept in morgues for repatriation to England. One of the laws, Rationalised Healthcare, notes that the bodies of convicts who die are disposed of in the foundations of the generator.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: While a very unusual take on the genre, the series of discoveries showing mankind's desperation to find the cause for the endless winter, which ultimately fails, has surprisingly many characteristics of it. There is no comprehensible intelligence or intent behind the disaster which has brought the Earth to its knees. It's nothing human science can explain, nor is it something that could make sense on a religious or mystical level. It does not seem to be mankind's punishment, and there's no special reason to it. It just happened, and there's nothing that anyone can do about it. The theme of mankind facing not merely destruction but the realization of its utter insignificance in the great scheme of things defines the Cosmic Horror elements of the story more than any amount of tentacled aliens could've.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: On a successful enough playthrough, your post-apocalyptic survivors could end up living in warm, heated houses with convenient access to entertainment, medical services, a place of worship/and a sense of security, eating filling meals of meat and vegetables, while automatons do virtually all the work and kids all go to school. This is a better quality of life than the majority of people had in 19th century London without an apocalypse!
    • Lampshaded by the achievement for never building tents in the span of a single scenario, which is actually called "Better than London".
    • Exaggerated with the addition of Endless Serenity mode, where you can eventually add heated winter gardens and public squares to the people's amenities.
  • Crapsack World: Human civilizations have been wiped out except for a few isolated pockets around the heat generators. Though just how crapsack your city becomes is up to the player, the best options for the city will be few and far between.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The Serenity trailer, along with both final tier of Discipline and Faith law paths, has an execution method where a person is exposed to hot steam to be boiled alive.
  • Cruel Mercy: If Discontent reaches maximum prior to the junction where you have to pick between Order and Faith, and you fail to meet the Ultimatum, you will not be executed even though many wished you were. Instead, they will exile you from the settlement, as even though you were incompetent, they still felt you deserved that much for the effort you've put in. Considering the fact that it's a Death World outside the walls of your city and that you're banished without food or coal, though, being boiled to death by hot steam almost seemed like the better alternative.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: On The Edge takes place after the events of A New Home and have it canon that the City did survive with a certain set of laws (which they force upon the settlements, and which is your first warning that New Home isn't very well run.). Considering that they have a population of about 550, the Captain apparently forced the survivors of the Frostlands to found the outposts for him instead, and likely did not get the Golden Ending.
  • Day of the Jackboot: In A New Home, the city can be put under an authoritarian regime following either the Order/Discipline path or the Faith/Devotion path the to maintain control over the unruly populace, once the Londoners faction starts forming to try and launch an expedition back there, in denial over the destruction of London.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Knowing that players might either delay it, or come with prior knowledge, the formation of the Londoners, resulting from the news of Winterhome's demise can still occur with a survivor even if the city was not explored.
    • There's a multitude of different narrations for Non Standard Game Overs accounting for several different scenarios:
      • If all the able-bodied adults die and there are only amputees left, you are Made a Slave to work for them until you and they inevitably die.
      • If all the adults die and only children remain, the children will proceed to execute you for dooming their parents.
    • While it's to be expected that the game has fail states for quests, the detail to which these fail states occur is staggering. So much so that they weren't fully documented on the wiki until a year after the game's release. For example, in addition to the multiple methods above, there are several different ways you can be deposed ranging from being exiled to executed, depending on how much of it was down to incompetence and how much was down to despotism.
    • If, in "The Last Autumn", you sign the "Short Shifts" law but don't actually implement any in a very long time, you'll eventually get a message saying your workers are upset with you for making empty promises to get them to work harder and motivation will plummet.
      • On a related note, if you do use the shorter shift but manipulate it to try and get more hours out of the workers note , an event will take place whereby a foreman reports that the workers felt cheated and the foreman himself can't blame them; this results in a rise in discontent.
  • Did Not Do the Bloody Research: In the base game, there is one event involving a citizen swearing with the word "arse". In The Last Autumn expansion, citizens will say "ass" or "asshole" instead - possibly because "arse" is a much tamer word outside of the English setting the game is based in.
  • Dirty Commies: Zigzagged with the Workers in The Last Autumn, oh they start out reasonable enough, but inevitably if you go down their end of the Labour laws, starting calls to ban all organized religion and quickly growing to working other workers to death, propaganda spam, and finally the People's Militia which inevitably pressures you into signing the chillingly straightforwardly named Terror law and the daily execution of Engineers.
  • The Dog Bites Back: An option for dealing with New London in On the Edge. After being talked down to and treated like trash by your former home city, culminating in them excommunicating you entirely and leaving your outpost to its fate, you can give New London the finger when they eventually come begging for your help after their mismanagement caused their settlement to implode. To make it all the more biting, you can also choose New London as the name of your outpost when prompted, which lets you effectively replace them after their downfall.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Amputees are unable to work, but still have to be taken care of. They are shown to be extremely resentful of this, with an example being an amputee who would rather be homeless in freezing weather rather than take up shelter because he doesn't feel he's earned it. If your city has enough amputees, they'll beg you to give them some wood so they can at the very least make cooking tools so they can do something to help out (giving them the wood permanently boosts the efficiency of cookhouses by 40%.)
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • You can choose to amputate a patient that begs you not to, rather than let him die from the infection. If you don't have a care house to take care of him, he kills himself because he doesn't want to be a burden to the limited resources.
    • In the Order path, a poet kills himself after a smear campaign your propaganda ministry started because of his "dangerous" writings on hopelessness.
    • In The Refugees, one of the Frostlands locations you can explore is a man hanging from a tree. If you go there, you find out that he was one of the engineers who worked on the generator and did this after learning that the people who hired him used lies and false hope to get him to work.
    • Also in The Refugees, this is implied to be the fate of Lord Craven if you save him from the lynch mob. He leaves your city and walks out into the icy cold by himself, with no other shelter or source of warmth around for miles. None of your resources go missing, so he goes without any food or coal.
    • In Endless Mode, one of the Frostlands locations you can explore is a man hanging from a tree with his dead family at the base of it. Your scouting party refuses to even speculate on how they might have died.
  • Due to the Dead: Anything involving desecrating the corpses, such as mass burial and fertilizer, will take a hit on Hope meter. One such event involves whether to give your people proper burials after witnessing a widow crying and holding her dead husband's hand in the mass graves.
  • Eagleland: One of the events involves finding a camp and later a city manned by an American expedition originating from Tesla Manufacturing. In general display very few stereotypical traits, due to being busy surviving. However, if you explore around Tesla City, you'll eventually find a group of American survivors who killed Tesla in a mutiny; they're armed with guns, proud of having killed a man they consider to be a tyrant, and are at first distrustful of your explorers. You convince these survivors to return to your colony with you by starting a friendly chat with them.
  • Early Game Hell: Setting up the right infrastructure is crucial and a bad start often puts you behind the curve for the rest of the game. It's very easy to make a mistake a few hours into the game that will doom you to failure 10 hours later, without the player even realizing it. Losing people early on is a serious hit, and it's possible to end up with all of most people incapacitated or dead in the initial days.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: While the threat of the Generator exploding and giving you an immediate game over if you use the Overdrive too much is always present, the only way you could ever actually see it happen is if you did it deliberately. No matter how cold it gets, there is never a situation where you would not shut the Overdrive off rather than letting the Generator go critical (losing some people to the cold is infinitely preferable to Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies and it's not even like you have to shut the Generator down altogether to let it recover), and the game even warns you when the stress level reaches 80% and 95% (when you get to 95% it openly tells you "you have to turn off the Overdrive. Now!"). Since there's no possibility of the stress level running away from you and getting out of control even after you turn the Overdrive off, the only way it can hit 100% is if you want it to, and even then the game gives you a Last-Second Chance to shut it down by sacrificing a child or a steam core.
  • Easier Than Easy: Relatively speaking, the Serenity mode in Endless. It is by far the least headache-inducing scenario in the game by a mile, being designed to give players an easier time if they just want to chill out and build the perfect city, with milder storms, pre-researched baseline techs, and no real pressing issues related to survival. In fact, the game even warns you if you try to tinker with the pre-game settings, as cranking up the difficulty level will "make Serenity mode not so Serene anymore", therefore defeating its purpose entirely.
    "For constructors. Plenty of resources, mild weather, and short blizzards. Build the city how you see fit."
  • End of an Age: The coming of the Frost is this, bringing an abrupt end to the technological progress of the 19th century, as well as to the larger period where humanity could easily survive on Earth. Even in the Golden Endings for the scenarios, there is no indication that Earth will become warm again.
  • Explosive Over Clocking:
    • The player can increase the generator's output by overclocking it, at the risk of exploding and wiping out the city at 100% stress level. It provides an extra heat level to all affected areas without needing more coal, but you have at most about a day's worth of overclocking before you have to shut it off.
    • Winterhome suffered this in its backstory; the generator was permanently damaged from too much overclocking in the past (because its captain was a fool who pushed it past its limits), and its scenario is about dealing with the fallout of that before it inevitably explodes.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The fate of Winterhome, a nearby settlement with a heat generator. It means that the player's colonists are the only known humans left in the region, if not the world. In Winterhome, a riot broke out over food shortages and increasingly harsh rule by an Army captain before the generator exploded from lack of oversight. Either many of them perished from that explosion, the resulting chaos, or scattered across the region in camps. This news causes a major Hope decrease and the "Londoner" splinter movement in-game as a number of your citizens refuse to accept that London is gone and petition/plot to return to her. "The Fall of Winterhome" described its fate in detail, with the city itself having suffered a massive upheaval that overthrew a tyrannical and incompetent Captain. The survivors then established order, cleaned up the deaths and damages, and began to inspect the generator. Eventually, a crisis occurs within the city when the engineers discovered that the generator was about to explode. They then decided to repair a nearby dreadnought to evacuate from the city, but the time and passenger capacity were too little. Thus, there were many inhabitants left behind. While the Dreadnought escaped with its fate and destination still unknown, the city of Winterhome fell into a desolate place with a destroyed generator by the time A New Home begins.
  • Final Boss: Despite not having any form of warfare or combat, this game still does have its own version of a "final boss" in the great ice storm at the end of A New Home.
  • Fight Clubbing: A Fighting Arena can be built, which is shown in the Book of Laws as two large fighters brawling inside the cage. Alternatively, Duel to the Death can be allowed between discontent workers in the arena to further entertain the crowds at the cost of people.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Fall of Winterhome is, well, about how Winterhome falls with "victory" coming from evacuating the city, and trying to save as many people as possible.
  • From Bad to Worse: The poor folks in Winterhome just couldn't catch a break. After rebuilding their city from the ground up, they find out that they don't even get to reap the full rewards of their rebellion, as the previous Captain's incompetence has caused the Generator to be irreparable. Things begin snowballing and getting progressively worse as people begin to panic over the possibility of not being able to board the Dreadnought. The only possible way to avoid bloodshed or severe morale hits is if you already have high Hope to stop people from making panicked breaks for it.
  • Fun with Acronyms: in The Last Autumn, the Imperial Exploration Company is an anagram of ice. It even vaguely sounds like "icy" phonetically.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Once you have a Guard Station or seat of the Faith Keepers, you can use guards or Faith Keepers to break up protests and keep order. These options are granted regardless of how many people you actually have assigned to those jobs, as long as you have at least one active at the time such an event happens. When trying to impose the New Order/New Faith, you can have all of two guards/Faith Keepers in a city of 500+ people where about a quarter of them are opposed to the law and are determined to fight it, and you will still be able to force your people to submit or die.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: If, by any chance, you make too much progress too quickly on the initial stages of the generator in The Last Autumn, such that the shaft explosion event precedes the first worker strike, you'll still be prompted to side with either your workforce or your Engineers, but the entire Labour tree will not actually show up in the menu, making it impossible to pass any of the required laws to keep the colony intact and slapping you with a severe handicap for the rest of the playthrough. There is no known fix for this, other than to restart or reload a save before that point and deliberately going as slowly as possible, while deliberately instigating a strike so the event will happen before the explosion. Actually beating the scenario without Labour laws is technically possible, though you'll have your work cut out for you if that's the case.
  • Genre Deconstruction: This game is one of the few works that properly depicts the dystopian and punk part of Steampunk where the downtrodden and never do'well attempt to escape the coming Ice Age in arks meant for the British Elite. The survivors are not typical upper class citizens with zeppelins and monocles but gin-addled workers and children who may be forced to work as they try to face an uncertain future as social upheaval pushes them towards fanatical/nationalism/revolutionary fervor and more often than not, The Needs of the Many comes into play with few if any satisfying outcomes.
  • Glacial Apocalypse: A series of massive volcanic eruptions and also maybe a meteor knocking Earth out of its normal orbit cause global temperatures to drop precipitously and leave only a few isolated pockets of civilization huddling around generators. The player takes control of New London, and will have to carefully manage resource gathering and consumption in order to keep the little island of heat going in the cold. A central aspect of the game is the struggle against a hostile environment that humanity is not suited for, and the forced choice between morality and survival — the player is presented with only two viable paths for survival, one leading to military despotism and the other to theocracy, and is left to figure out how much is too much and how much is justified to ensure that the city lives on.
  • A God Am I: If you decide to sign the penultimate law in the Faith tree, "Protector of the Truth," the city's captain declares himself the sole voice on what is right and what's wrong in the city.
  • Going Down with the Ship: Can be invoked in the end of Fall of Winterhome. When the Generator finally runs out of time, the Captain gets an event which presents three options; leave with your men to presumably board the dreadnought, leave your engineers behind to die at their posts while presumably evacuating yourself to the dreadnought, or stay with your men and die at your post. The latter two options buy Winterhome 24 more hours, and the last choice fits this trope. While this isn't a nautical setting, it has the same spirit and the player character's rank is Captain.
    Winterhome Captain: "I'm staying with you! Remain at your posts!"
  • Golden Ending: Each scenario has one.
    • "A New Home": Survive the storm without descending into totalitarianism. If you feel like going above and beyond, there is even an achievement for obtaining this (Golden Path), where you have to beat the scenario without causing any death via harsh laws, overwork, or exposure, all while having saved everybody possible and welcoming every wave of refugee into your city. That being said, there are certain factors that do not count towards or against a New Home golden ending, such as banishing people from the city or letting the Londoners leave, or signing specific controversial laws but not actually enacting them enough times to result in repercussions (e.g. Emergency Shifts can result in death from overworking, but only if used for several consecutive days).
    • "The Arks": Save the seeds and New Manchester.
    • "The Refugees": Allow the lords into the city and peacefully resolve the class conflict.
    • "The Fall of Winterhome": Though its ending was already sealed based on its title, the closest thing to the golden ending is to evacuate as many survivors as possible from the city with the Dreadnought after the generator was discovered to be irreparable. The Dreadnought has to have enough food and cabins for all 500 passengers, and there must be enough engineers on board to help steer and maintain the thing.
    • "The Last Autumn": Finish constructing the Generator, along with the 3 upgrades that allows it to accommodate a larger population before you are shipped back to Liverpool.
  • Grim Up North: The setting is in a region known as the Frostlands, which used to be a part of the Northern Hemisphere. As players send out scouts into the Frostlands, the scouts document various locations visited, and the entries frequently involve ice, snow and a bit of despair.
  • Guide Dang It!: One of the flaws of the game is the lack of details on its objectives and its features.
    • Many players will not notice the ability to upgrade by building over old structures (houses, hunter lodges, and resource gathering ones) rather than dismantling and building new ones.
    • The Arks has a mission where the relief effort to New Manchester has to be accessed from the Beacon, which may escape notice as scouting missions are done through the Frostlands Map. Another is confusion between Tier-3 "Houses" and housing for the populace.
    • A major issue of the Order and Faith paths, especially for A New Home and The Refugees, is that there are no indications for the player to know whether they have "Crossed the Line" for the Golden Ending.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: This happens in A New Home if the Captain chooses the Faith Path and successfully restores the city's hope; the disruptive and violent Londoners lose support and finally disband entirely.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • In The Arks, if the Captain chooses to give New Manchester the supplies that city needs without securing supplies for his own city, then the ending states that the Arks and the scientists caring for them all perished. However, while the ending narration laments you could not save both, it says of your decision that "lives were more important" and "more importantly, we saved New Manchester".
    • In A New Home , when the storm hits, one of your coal mines will have a chance of collapsing because of the supports failing. If you choose to abandon the lower levels of the coal mine, a few of your workers will ignore your decision to fix the supports themselves. Not one of them survives.
    • In The Last Autumn, if you successfully complete the generator but your colony collapses before the rescue ship arrives, the rescuers will report back to London that you and your workers sacrificed yourselves to ensure the completion of the generator and will be remembered as heroes.
    • In The Fall of Winterhome, when the generator finally reaches its critical breaking point you are handed the decision to either evacuate immediately, force your engineers to stay while you evacuate under the watchful eye of Guards or Oathkeepers, or stay behind with your engineers to lead them to the cold and bitter end. Whether just your engineers or you and your engineers choose to stay behind, your sacrifices gains the city one final crucial day to evacuate as many people as you can.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Due to how the mechanics of selecting citizens to assign to a station, it's hard to tell if the one man in Fall of Winterhome claiming to not want to be separated from his child/ren is really telling the truth. Normally, you can select individual citizens and the UI will tell you if they have any family in the city. Not helping the fact is if you do decide to ship this man off to the evacuation, some of your citizens will comment, "I wish I'd thought of that." After the man is evacuated, a mob will trigger an event, forcing you to either let them leave for the Dreadnought, or stop them at the cost of killing and injuring people.
  • Historical Domain Character: The game, particularly A New Home, had two characters: Tesla and Nansen. The former managing to found a corporation that would build a city protected by an electric force-field against the ice (and also the inhabitants) while the latter not only scouted the Frostlands before the event of the game, but also survived to help refugees trapped in Frostland to reach the player's city.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Fridtjof Nansen receives one, though it is in line with his character. In A New Home, Nansen scours the Frostlands to find refugees and guide them to New London before the big storm comes. After he does this, he stays behind to care for those too weak to travel onward. He presumably dies as a result of this, being missing if the player rescues the weaker refugees. In real life, Nansen was involved in several humanitarian efforts involving the rescue of refugees.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Nikola Tesla also receives one. It is in line with his historical character, though surprising as Tesla is usually the recipient of Historical Hero Upgrade. In the game, Tesla built a city in the Frostlands. He ruled it as a tyrant, expelled all disabled citizens, and was killed by his own men. In real life, Tesla was an ardent eugenicist.
  • Honesty Is the Best Policy: In The Fall of Winterhome, once the Generator's revealed to be doomed, your citizens will begin to panic. You have the option to lie and claim there's another city your people can flee to if they simply go along with the evacuation. If you decide to do this, you'll have a whole other can of worms to deal with in the form of a conspiracy. Your minority engineer population, who are more or less aware you're full of it, will attempt to milk it for all it's worth. Two will demand to be sent first, and four more will confront you and threaten to out you. In order to keep your lie, you have to lose 6 engineers in a scenario where they're extremely valuable.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: Some citizens have this mindset, believing that the world will thaw and become warm again even if they don't live to see it.
    "The spring will come!"
  • Humans Are White: Not only is every human in the game white, but almost all of them are British. The only exceptions are the handful of Americans who survived the fall of Tesla City and the Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen. Perhaps justified was that it was stated in the loading screen that the southern colonies were the first to fall, being unprepared for cold weather, though this leaves the question of what happened to the Inuit, Yupik, Iñupiat, Chukchi, and various other indiginous groups that live in the far north. Convicts hired in The Last Autumn are depicted as certainly not white.
  • Human Resources: The player can pass a law involving usage of corpses, many of which can demoralize the survivors. The Hot Springs settlement in On the Edge also practice composting dead bodies into the soil that they grow their crops over, which naturally disturbs many of your own people, and trying to dissuade them from doing so will lower their approval towards your faction.
  • Humongous Mecha: Automatons are big. They look like Boston Dynamics-style quadrupeds that tower over most buildings, and they replace all the workers inside it by climbing onto the building and attaching themselves to it. They recharge by marching to the nearest heat generator and plugging their steam core into the furnace.
  • I am a Humanitarian: If the situation becomes dire, the city can resort to this by passing the "Alternative Food Source" law.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • While the game insists on providing people with hope and optimism, sometimes the player has to cross some lines just to make it through, such as embracing child labor and burying people in mass graves.
    • The Arks also had this situation, regarding New Manchester, which the city next to the Arks had dire need of resources to survive the storm. Other than dealing with resource management for the players, the Arks' denizens will show discontent if the players keep providing resources to the neighboring city instead of focusing on preserving the Arks' seedlings, even if there is a surplus. Though there are many who sincerely felt that New Manchester should be helped, but kept the feelings to themselves due to the prescribed mentality by the Arks' populace.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: Despite the 19th-century technology, your civilization can develop Automatons. These are towering behemoths of steampunk mechs that are made for heavy industry, and can eventually be used for medical work.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: After signing New Order, one of the events you can be confronted with is an engineer who is said to be "spreading lies about you, accusing you of tyranny." You can let him be, raising discontent; you can have him imprisoned; or you can have guards beat him up. If you take the latter option, the engineer will be right back at the accusations after getting out of medical treatment, claiming that your actions just reaffirm his point; you can let him be at this point, raising discontent, or you can have guards silence him for good.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: The game has a plethora of negative endings that result in the city's doom, or your personal death or banishment.
  • Just Before the End:
    • "The Fall of Winterhome" is a scenario that detailed the city that players found in "A New Home". At the time of the scenario, Winterhome had a massive revolt to overthrow an abusive captain that destroyed half of the city along with many lives. In addition, the generator has been malfunctioning due to neglect by the said Captain and still under inspection on what is wrong with it. Needless to say, the city's fate is already sealed and the only option for the players is to repair the dreadnought to evacuate the populace.
    • "The Last Autumn" takes place before the Great Frost, where you are in charge of the expedition constructing one of the Generators.
  • Karmic Jackpot: In A New Home, right before the final storm, one of the exploration sites is a set of arctic huts — the description only says there might be survivors there. If you search there, you find thirty-two scientists who stayed to study the storm before it came. This provides you with some extra engineers right before you need to make a final push of preparations.
  • Kick the Dog: During The Last Autumn DLC; if you choose to start a penal colony, you can decide to deny prisoners access to any medical care. Considering that you will quickly be giving all dangerous jobs to "convicts" (including innocent people you just rounded up) and you should realistically have plenty of medical facilities (and engineers to man them) at that point in the game, there is no real reason to do it; other than to be a dick.
  • Made a Slave:
    • If all the able-bodied people in your city die and you can't put children to work, any amputees will enslave you to perform the labor.
    • If you fail to completely ease the tensions between the Refugees and the Lords, but not bad enough for a massacre to happen, the Refugees do this to the Lords.
    • In "The Last Autumn", there is an option to build a penal colony, which adds convicts to the workforce as forced labor, which you can add innocent workers to as well.
  • Mock Meal: Sawdust can be used to create extra rations, but at the price of hope and health.
  • Murder-Suicide: Implied to be the cause of death when your scouts find a man hanging from a tree with a woman and children dead at his feet. Your scouts refuse to speculate as to what might have happened.
  • Nintendo Hard: Frostpunk is brutally difficult, mainly due to story events that a first-time player won't know about, and thus cannot prepare for. It's very easy to make early mistakes in the first few hours of gameplay that will doom your colony to failure several hours later, without the player even realizing they made them. Prioritizing the wrong research and accidentally triggering plot events too early can be especially devastating.
  • Noah's Story Arc: One of the three scenarios in the game deal with preserving the seeds of various plants inside the titular Arks until the winter ends, even if the original inhabitants do not live to see it. The major issues are that there are a total of 45 Engineers and an automaton, which make starting a functioning colony difficult, and the Arks must be prevented from frost, as it will damage the sensitive seeds. Also the late game also had the players decide on whether to aid the unfortunate New Manchester in preparation for the coming storm or not, but it required vast amounts of planning and resources to gain a Golden Ending from fulfilling the needs of both the player's city and New Manchester.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: In A New Home, you can find a camp where people ate each other to survive.
    • If there's a mass starvation crisis occurring in the city, a series of events involving this causes your city to devolve into cannibalism if you allow it.
  • No Recycling: Averted in "The Fall of Winterhome" and "The Last Autumn" where you can retrieve wood from demolished homes and steel from abandoned factories.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Lord Craven's last words, if the player prevent his execution. He leaves a note before leaving of his own accord; in it, he observes that power corrupts and that the player character will eventually become like him, both powerful and corrupt/evil. How true this rings depends on you.
  • The Needs of the Many: The Game. Players have to weigh carefully various options and sacrifices, including serving soup to stretch out rations or enabling child labour.
  • The Neidermeyer: The original captain of Winterhome was such an unbelievable buffoon that, in some way, shape or form, he's almost singlehandedly responsible not only for the eventual desertion, destruction and doom of his own town and essentially the challenge of the entire scenario The Fall of Winterhome, but for the near-collapse of New London in "A New Home", too, since it's finding the ruins of Winterhome where there should've been a large and prosperous town that drives the Londoner schism and threatens to tear the population apart! How incompetent was the guy? After designing his city in the stupidest, least efficient way conceivable, signing the most inane and self-destructive laws in the literal Book, and installing a murderous dictatorship with a 0% Approval Rating, he proceeded to repeatedly ignore all warnings that Winterhome's generator was breaking down, eventually leading to the generator's near explosion and resulting in a massive riot. The captain ordered the rioters be shot dead, killing half of Winterhome's population and setting fire to most of the city in the process. Even after being removed from power and executed, the man's incompetence continues to haunt his former followers, as it turns out that the flaw in the generator, that could've probably been repaired if he'd simply acknowledged it sooner, has grown too severe and there's nothing that can be done anymore to save the town. Ultimately, no matter what the player does, the generator explodes, those who didn't escape Winterhome in time descend to cannibalism and eventually die horrible deaths, and New London's scouts finding what remained forces its own captain to embrace either Order or Faith (possibly turning into a maniacal dictator/self-proclaimed prophet himself in the process) in order to retain power. Wow!
  • No Fair Cheating: In The Last Autumn, if you try to take advantage of Short Shifts in order to exploit the safety and productivity bonuses, but change the hours back to normal just when the shift would normally end to avoid sacrificing work hours, your workers will call you out on your "cheating" the second time around, and you will receive a discontent hit.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Downplayed. Engineers are qualified to perform any job that requires education of some sort. The same engineers working on developing new technologies in your workshops can also be working as doctors, writers or manufacturers in your factories. Should your manpower be insufficient, they can do most of the workers' jobs too, including becoming armed guards.
  • Police State: The extreme end of the Order path, where the Captain rules New London with an iron fist and crushes dissent.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Child labor can be adopted to increase manpower but it will come at the cost of hope and increased accidents. Should your Generator go critical, you will likewise have an option to fix it by sending a kid (who's the only one small enough to climb into the mechanism), and then deal with the hope loss from a dead child.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: In "On the Edge", you control a small steel outpost built to redirect steel harvests to New London, the city in "A New Home". It also dabbles in Rogue Protagonist as the city's demands in exchange for food supplies become ever more unreasonable, hence the need to find other settlements. This in turn angers New London and cuts off all contact. Near the end of the scenario, they come crawling back, begging for aid, and it's the player's decision whether to send supplies to save the city or forsake it and deal with waves of refugees.
  • Punk Punk: A frozen world crossed with Steampunk.
  • Railroading: Most of the scenarios have this. Using A New Home as an example, you'll be forced into the Londoner arc by Day 15 at the latest, when a dying survivor from the area collapses at the gates of New London; you can trigger the arc earlier if New London scouts reach Winterhome earlier. The Londoner Arc is also resolved after 15 days at the latest; it's not difficult to resolve it earlier. After the Londoner arc, the end-game is near with the 3 waves of refugees, the preparation and then the Super Storm.
    • Averted in The Last Autumn. If the generator and all optional components are completed before the last supply ships leaves, the scenario ends, thus bypassing the survival arc (until the icebreaker arrives).
  • Rare Candy: Steam cores. They cannot be manufactured, only looted from very specific encounters, from dismantling the buildings or automatons that use them, or from Tesla City in A New Home if you choose to explore and set up an outpost there. Steam cores are extremely vital to the running of a healthy city, being part of almost every important upgrade in the lategame and the source of power for your automatons, as well as a requirement to even build some of the core structures like hothouses coal mines.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Every building only take a few man hours to build, from cheap tents to factories. The only catch is you need to have free citizens available to walk up to the construction site and build it. Another thing is despite the fact much of the game involves managing temperatures and free time, your citizens will never complain about construction, even if you task them at the dead of night after an extended shift in the middle of an ice storm.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The Liverpool construction site has the enlightened Engineers recommend pragmatic, direct solutions to problems such as overseers and organization, while the romanticist Workers prefer to have their problems solved through more indirect means such as Labor unions and negotiations. Frostpunk being Frostpunk, it is entirely possible to take it too far.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • Should the generator reach a critical stress level, the player is given a choice to let the generator explode and end the game or sacrifice a child to fix it and suffer a massive hope decrease, potentially causing the population to mutiny against the player. Alternatively, a steam core can be used without any repercussion - outside of several workers dying and your people being a ''bit'' peeved at your negligence - to prevent the ensuing explosion.
    • Having to choose whether to take in a group of survivors the player might not have the room or resources to care for or leave them to die. Especially if said survivors are all children.
    • Fall of Winterhome has this on a massive scale: you have over 600 people in your city (including all the surrounding bases) and only 500 can fit onto a Dreadnought even after fully upgrading its capacity. Leave the kids behind and people will justly question you. Evacuate the engineers and there won't be anyone left to delay the explosion. Leave engineers to maintain the Generator and they will tell you that without them the Dreadnought will simply stall in the middle of nowhere.
  • Safely Secluded Science Center: The generators were generally set up far from civilization in order to avoid their construction being compromised by civil unrest. The Arks in particular are a group of buildings supported by a generator and a small community of engineers (45 at the start of the eponymous scenario) created for the purpose of preserving various seeds to restore the vegetation of the Earth at the eventual end of the ice age. The main conflict in the scenario derives from attempting to prepare for a storm that endangers this project while also helping out New Manchester, a city of several hundred people that reaches out to you with a scout, is in dire straits, and would be doomed without it. Some of the engineers don't hesitate to make it clear that they feel that saving New Manchester isn't worth compromising their own mission to preserve the seeds in the Arks.
  • Science Hero: The colonists in The Arks are made up of academics from Cambridge and Oxford, being sent to preserve the last vestiges of plant life on Earth.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Snowpiercer — while it's easy to draw comparisons of "world frozen over", the most explicit reference is made in "The Last Autumn", in a sub-plot found when scouting: the team can potentially stumble across a French expedition to the region, where they intended to build a fleet of Cool Trains capable of plowing through the snow, with one of said trains being named the "Crève-neige" — unfortunately for the French, the locomotives are all completely wrecked by the time your team finds them, who can either break the sorry news to them... or lie about being part of a relief effort to rob them blind.
    • You get an achievement for having four simultaneously operating Coal Thumpers, machines that pound coal out of the ground to be collected on the surface. It's called Shai Hulud Summoner.
    • The achievement for giving child workers extra rations is called "Please Sir, I Want Some More."
    • In the game over screen where the Captain is banished, one random civilian asks "Now who will make our city great again?", a reference to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign slogan "Make America Great Again."
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: During the Londoners arc in "A New Home", the Londoners will make public protests if your Discontent is high enough. If you don't use your Order/Faith workers to break up the protest, it results in more people joining the Londoners. If you keep letting the protesters speak freely, however, after the third time you get the chance to speak instead and dramatically reduce the number of Londoners.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: A Darker and Edgier version of it. The severe frost has caused the remnants of humanity to huddle around generators that provide heat, creating the only livable habitats.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs:
    • The Refugees involves working-class citizens who took over a ship meant for wealthy passengers to one of the generators. The new city will have to deal with class tensions when the aristocratic survivors arrive (or to respond if they were refused).
    • The Arks' crisis involving neighboring New Manchester has elements of this between the Arks' small academic population (represented by its Engineer-only population supplemented by automatons for labor) and working-class heavy New Manchester, which the latter lacking sufficient supplies and infrastructure from the start, let alone an upcoming storm. A major issue for the Arks involved a segment of the population demanding the player to abandon New Manchester to its fate and a discontent penalty (but a small Hope bonus in some cases) if the player decided to help. Though this got better once the player accepted to keep 6 automatons while delivering spare ones to deliver resources.
    • The Last Autumn has the educated Engineers against the uneducated workers. Typically speaking, Workers prefer more immediate solutions to their problems while Engineers prefer more pragmatic solutions.
  • Steampunk: The overall tech level of the game, featuring steam cores, coal-powered heat generators, and massive steam automatons.
  • Strike Episode: In "The Last Autumn", workers will occasionally strike to demand better conditions, shorter working hours, etc. The player can either negotiate with the strikers (especially if they take the Worker's version of the Labor laws) or violently break up the strikes (especially with the furthest points of the Engineer's version of Labor laws, where the end result is turning the project into a Penal Colony relying on convict labor and watchtower guards).
  • A Storm Is Coming: And with it, a frost wave at the end of most scenarios, rendering the points of interest in its path unreachable. Averted in The Refugees and Fall of Winterhome, as the scenarios don't feature a storm.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Since the game takes many Acceptable Breaks from Reality, the few instances where it doesn't stand out.
    • One of the events involving Automatons is about a pedestrian whose leg was crushed after they stepped in its path. Want to avoid it in the future? Be prepared that slower movement means less efficiency.
    • The Healing House, an unlockable structure from Faith and Spiritual Strength path, is good for providing hope but, being manned by clergy with little medical experience, may not actually help with the general health of the patients. note 
    • In The Fall of Winterhome, not filling the Dreadnought to capacity with people until the Dreadnought is ready to be launched prevents a mass exodus event. Turns out that while everyone knew that the Dreadnought can't hold everyone, as long as it's not filled, they still hold out hope that they'll be the lucky ones to get on board.
    • With update 1.3, a meta-example occurs with Hunter's Huts and Hunter's Hangars. Before, keeping them in the cold had no consequences for the workers' health, since they simply spent a little while preparing in the hut/hanger before marching out into the Frostlands. The update made it so they require heat now to avoid illness.
    • In The Last Autumn, choosing to have any engineers on the Peoples' Militia should you side with the workers will result in either a minority engineer representation being harassed or brutalized, or a majority engineer representation attempting to pull a coup d'etat on you for depriving them of their privileges.
    • In the same scenario, workers witnessing their comrades dying in the fires and explosions will make them go on strike since no one told them that the Generator is supposed to save people during the apocalypse, and they are not eager to die for company profits. On the other hand, serving them cocaine (no, really) ensures their co-operation, but sooner or later it will affect their health.
    • Also in "The Last Autumn", near the end, you're told that the Frost is coming and London can no longer send you supplies. They'll send an icebreaker in a week to get you out, but you're on your own until then. Unless you finished all the work available to you, in which case you evacuate on the last supply ships and the game ends there. If there's nothing left for you to do, why stick around?
    • The rescued workers in The Last Autumn will cause strikes, but can be placated with a large amount of Food Rations. Turns out that people who have experienced starvation change their minds quickly when food is offered as a bribe.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: One of the locations your scouts can find is a cairn with both people and supplies buried beneath it. Your scouts insist in their report that the supplies were not intended to be grave goods for the dead to use in the afterlife. If that were the case, then your scouts would be grave-robbers after all.
  • Take a Third Option:
    • The Londoners' crisis can end peacefully for the city by choosing either the Order and Discipline or Faith and Spiritual Strength paths. However, if their numbers dwindle to one from getting enough hope without "crossing the line", the entire group will suffer from a Heel Realization and decide to stay in the City instead. Alternatively, you can just spam the abilities provided by certain structures in the Order/Faith laws, which force a number of Londoners to abandon their cause upon every use. If you simply let them go and equip them well enough, there is also a chance that they might come back alive after realizing their mistake.
    • The Golden Ending to the Arks involves saving both the objectives of the city along with nearby New Manchester, which involved vast amounts of planning and resources to pull it off.
    • In "The Last Autumn", siding with the workers and empowering them to form The People's Militia eventually results in an event where the militia takes some of the engineers who they deemed most abusive, and are planning to lead them away to an execution. The player's three options: Option 1) Let the executions happen. Option 2) Organize a "Revolutionary Tribunal", pass the "Terror" law, and construct the Execution Place, where one person will be executed each day. Or Option 3) Promise the "Revolutionary Tribunal", but never get around to passing Terror, causing Motivation to drop, and Discontent to rise, but saving the lives of the Engineers who would have been killed.
  • Tesla Tech Timeline: Tesla City is protected from the ice by an electrical shield, but this fried the inhabitants inside the dome as well. In half of the chances for entering the city, the site will become a source for Steam Cores, which cannot be manufactured in your city.
  • Timed Mission: The whole game is this, with both short-term timed objectives (like building enough shelters for everyone) and a larger, inevitable challenge to be faced — i.e. the Storms/Lords. Averted in the Endurance and Serenity settings for Endless Mode, as well as in Builders, after the Generator is completed.
  • The Theocracy: Other than the Order and Discipline path for the Londoners crisis, the society can turn to the Faith and Spiritual Strength that seems more benign by comparison. However, at its extremes, it can be no different from the totalitarian and secular path as their top tier level for the Book of Laws also allows purges and punishment against rebels. Furthermore, Devotion will replace Hope.
  • There Is Another: In the base game, there was serious doubt whether there would be other long-term survivors with functioning societies, especially considering the Great Storm at the end. During On The Edge, you find out that yep, there are. Most of them are barely scraping by when you find them but they somehow survived.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sometimes, the workers can exhibit this, such as demanding more food rations when the city is clearly short on food, or refusing to work extra hours to mine coal that's needed to power the generator that's preventing the entire city from freezing to death. In the game's canon, The Winterhome Captain is so ridiculously incompetent that he irreparably damaged his own generator and it's a wonder that he wasn't overthrown sooner by his own people.
  • Torches and Pitchforks:
    • Lynchings will occur in The Refugees if the Lords are in the city and you don't have security forces at hand.
    • The people will eventually come for you if you let discontent rise too high.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • Fall of Winterhome vastly shakes up the formula of the base game; you essentially play in reverse for a while, as you must dismantle or clear out half the ruins of your city, then spend the rest of the scenario trying to evacuate (likely dismantling more of the city as you go).
    • In The Arks, players only have access to Adaptation laws. The only manpower available are Engineers and Automatons, and there is no influx of manpower throughout the scenario.
    • The Last Autumn takes things even further, with heating being a non-issue as the temperature will be hovering around a mild 10 degrees Celsius above freezing (until the Frost approaches eventually). Instead, the main hazard you will have to worry about is the working conditions for the Imperial Exploration Company's employees. Of course, when the Frost hits... Oh, and Automatons are not available as well.
    • On the Edge is also a mild example. While it retains the same general mechanics of heat, construction, and healthcare, the standard resource gathering is largely replaced by trade. Three other settlements capable of providing food, coal, and wood are operating in the region as well as your own, which can provide steel and steam cores. To gain resources needed to survive, you must trade supplies with the other settlements outright or help them improve their conditions for a reward. Maintaining and managing your relationship with others rather then your own production is the primary gimmick.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution:
    • Very much averted in many scenarios. The House of Pleasure law allows you to turn the public house into a brothel and station five of your citizens as prostitutes there. Enacting this law will cause your population to lose hope, and some of your citizens will complain about it, but access to sex will lower discontentment, and then there is the event where a) one of the prostitutes kills herself after one too many visits by an abusive customer and b) the game reminds you there actually is no free choice of work in the city. You forced these people into these "jobs", but it wouldn't be Frostpunk if it couldn't get worse: If you institute the New Religion, one of your preachers denounces a woman as a harlot in a sermon and she gets beaten up by a mob. If you turn to the faith keepers to have them punished, they shrug and reply that they won't punish people for doing what's right — which, again, is beating up a woman for her being forced into prostitution by you.
    • Played straight in The Last Autumn, where there are no penalties associated with the law. The only inconvenience is the prostitutes or customers contracting venereal diseases, nothing a manned infirmary can't handle.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Workers you rescue from the frozen tundra in The Last Autumn will agitate your workers and cause strikes no matter how safe your worksite, or the relations with the local unions.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Potentially, the project overseer in The Last Autumn.
    • Having your foraging party looting the Lost Crates point of interest will award some minor but valuable resources...that were meant for Winterhome's generator, implying that had they received this shipment of parts as intended, things could have turned out much differently. Oops. The name of the achievement you gained from doing so basically spells it out in no uncertain terms.
      It was me all along.
    • That being said, given the multitude of problems that plagued that city to begin with, it's unclear how much worse looting the crates made for them. Furthermore, you can return these resources to a cargo convoy encountered later on, but given that Winterhome canonically perished anyway even with the parts, it wouldn't matter much in the long run if you'd just lie and keep them for yourself.
  • Videogame Caring Potential:
    • In spite of the grim nature of the game, the decision to not resort to child labor can be introduced via the Book of Laws in order to raise hope. In addition, beneficial decisions can unlock benefits later on, such as the children being able to work as Engineers and Medics if the "Child Shelter" decision is made.
    • Any decision made or law signed with the intent of raising hope or lowering discontent falls into this category, and these usually come at an increased material cost that the player must account for.
    • Going off of how you handle your child citizens, in the Fall of Winterhome, you are denied the above options due to some of the laws already being picked out for you — including the disdainful (and, given the starting population, redundant) Child Labor laws. Despite this, you can reward their hard work and help in rebuilding the city until the end by ensuring that all children are guaranteed a spot on the evacuation Dreadnought. It's the only form of special treatment your people won't openly argue with.
    • The news of the Generator's imminent failure in The Fall Of Winterhome lowers efficiency in all workplaces by 10%, assuming the player chooses to be truthful and does not lie about knowing of another city to evacuate to. Successfully evacuating every child to the Dreadnought following this decision raises everyone's morale and directly counteracts the loss of efficiency.
    • Building and stationing Automatons in place of people in workplaces earns the gratitude of the people, who no longer have to work in the cold.
      "My workers asked me to deliver this. They're plain people, so it reads like bad poetry, but here's the gist of it: they want to thank you, sir. The sight of this automaton working tirelessly in the inhuman cold, where previously they toiled and suffered, is something worth living for."
    • In place of Hope in The Last Autumn is "Motivation." Every decision and law that raises motivation concerns raising the quality of life for the workers, from serving hearty meals that cost more raw food, to lowering the capacity of tents so that people have more personal space, at the cost of having to build more of them. You can also shorten the workday from 10 hours to 8, under the premise that well-rested people make less mistakes.
      "The boss knows how to please hard-working people."
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: While the players are allowed to make sadistic decisions For the Evulz rather than from pure necessity, it will take a hit on Hope and Discontent that might cause trouble for the city.
    • The Order path allows players to install an authoritarian regime that would gladly jail and brutalize any suspected dissidents while the Faith path allows players to transform the citizenry into a rapturous cult with you as their appointed prophet, prepared to grind any that the faith proclaims as heretical into the freezing dirt. No matter which path you take people will resist you as you become more and more tyrannical, and when you take the final step into becoming an absolute despot any who opposed your rule will be hunted down and either executed or banished to the frozen wastes to die.
    • You can use Triage as many times as you'd like, killing a fraction of your sick citizens while instantly healing another. It has a cooldown and has serious Hope and Discontent ramifications, but clever use of Order/Faith abilities can help offset this.
    • The Engineers' path in The Last Autumn can dip right into this. You can sign up for penal workers, who don't take up as many rations per day and cost far less in terms of convoy orders. Then, you can arrest workers en masse and turn them into convicts! Convicts don't have a say in strikes for generator construction. There's even an achievement for ending the game with only engineers or convicts. Just be sure to have enough engineers on overwatch duty, or those prisoners could riot...
  • Was It Really Worth It?: After completing A New Home, the game reviews your decisions as a leader, highlighting the morally dubious policies such as child labor, propaganda, or inquisitions, before asking whether survival was worth the price paid. This gets averted if the player managed to not "cross the line" by avoiding extreme Discipline or Faith laws (and picking the less-authoritarian options in events for 'on-the-fence' policies such as Propaganda Centre if they are signed). Still, the game will scold you even for the milder forms of these laws, sometimes even if you never actually used them after signing.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Justified Trope, the player's colony is one of many expeditions that made it to the generators, with few resources to start from the ground up. The Book of Laws are mainly various mandates for the community. Less justifiable is the New Liverpool Generator in The Last Autumn. Why you must research the technologies needed to actually build the Generator instead of having them available to build when you arrive at the worksite is never explained. Likewise, the On the Edge scenario takes place after A New Home, yet the player is still forced to research the same technology all over again.
  • You Lose at Zero Trust:
    • "Hope" is how much people trust in you as a leader. When it bottoms out, you receive an ultimatum to give them a reason to keep you around, by raising Hope to 15% in two days. The Faith and Order paths have several means to raise hope. The ultimate option is to become some kind of demagogue who turns your supporters into zealots, "hope" gets overridden with "devotion" or "obedience."
    • "Discontent" is how upset people are with their circumstances at that point in time. When it maxes out, you receive an ultimatum to calm them down before they get rid of you, by lowering Discontent to 75% in two days. The Faith and Order paths, as well as some of the laws in the Adaptation tree, give you multiple ways to keep people happy. Should you fail to do so after signing New Faith or New Order, your people will execute you with the steam platform you ordered them to build.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Fall of Winterhome provides an example, though in this case there's no literal enemy. When the generator finally runs out, there's an event in which one of the choices the Captain can make is to stay at his post with the engineers to buy Winterhome 24 more hours. This will assuredly cost the Captain and his engineers their lives, but if the Dreadnought is only a few hours from being filled or even completed, then it will save lives.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas:
    • Food in the form of rations, made from raw food, is required for your colonists to survive. If you don't have enough Cookhouses to convert raw food into either Rations or Soup/Sawdust Meals in time to feed starving people they will eat the raw food when they're desperate enough, but Cookhouses are so efficient that it's almost impossible for your production of raw food to outstrip the rate of conversion to cooked food.
    • Coal is consumed as fuel by heat-generating structures. It can be generated infinitely inside a city with a coal thumper or coal mine.
    • Wood plays a role in early structures and is always needed in research. It can also be transformed to coal in a charcoal kiln.
    • Metal is used for advanced structures and technology.
    • Steam cores are external resources that can only be found through scouting, and are needed for Automatons and advanced structures.
    • The amount of workers is limited and can only be increased by immigrants from other parts of the map. It's divided into skilled Engineers, who perform specialized tasks such as research, staffing medical buildings, or advanced resource gathering; Workers, run-of-the-mill laborers, and Children, who can be put to work depending on the laws you choose.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Scouts and eventually Hunters can utilize hot-air balloons, the latter using zeppelins, to survey and acquire resources in Frostland. The opening cinematic for A New Home also shows zeppelins flying over London before the Great Frost arrived.

Top