Almost immediately it becomes clear that with the Finji published title I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, developer Northway Games has created a game that cares as much about the player as it does about its characters. Shortly after you boot up the narrative RPG for the first time, you are greeted with a content warning that you can choose to look at, if that sort of thing is relevant to you.

Next, you’ll be thrown into the character creation and you might notice that there isn’t a simple binary gender choice. Instead, you get two sliders: one for pronouns going from she/her to they/them to he/him, and the other for your appearance going from feminine to androgynous to masculine. You can scale them as you see fit and have the option to adjust them at any point during your playthrough. Then you’re introduced to the world of I Was a Teenage Exocolonist. A world where hiding in your room to recover from the stress of the outside world is encouraged every now and then, where even at the young age of ten you are trusted to make your own decisions, and where judgment is rarely a thing you will encounter. I Was a Teenage Exocolonist aims to create the most pleasant experience imaginable and it absolutely manages to do so.

I Was a Teenage Exocolonist
There isn’t much to character creation, but what’s there offers everything you could want

Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t less pleasant moments in the story. I mean I did just tell you that the game starts with a content warning. But even in its darkest moments, I Was a Teenage Exocolonist makes sure to build you back up again and to keep you going, rather than trying to destroy you emotionally.

 

In I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, you are part of a group of people that crash with a spaceship on a foreign planet. You are ten when this happens and are now part of this new colony trying to make it work. You will be spending your next couple of years here, from age ten to twenty to be exact, making you a Teenage Exocolonist. Don’t worry, this is by no means a spoiler, because there’s another aspect to this story: you seem to remember all of this happening before. Well, you don’t remember any details, but you keep having dreams and instances of deja vu, and you know something awful will happen once you turn twenty. This means there’s a pretty clear end in sight, and yet it never felt like a ticking time bomb to me. I was so captured in the moment that when the ending came knocking I was actually quite surprised.

I Was a Teenage Exocolonist
Simple but effective

You spend your time by taking on different tasks: going to school, helping at the farm, going on expeditions etc. Every action takes a month and you’ll have to do a little card minigame to complete it. These are fairly simple, all you have to do is match the colors and numbers on your cards to get a good enough score to pass. There are a couple of small mechanics that get added over time, but nothing crazy. You can get more cards by interacting with the people around you. Cards represent the memories you collect over time. How you can interact with the world around you depends on your stats that increase depend on the actions you choose to take each month. Interacting with other characters won’t take any time away from you, after all it’s something you should be doing as much as possible.

And this is something you’ll want to do as much as possible as well. The other characters are all super loveable, with their own little quirks that make them unique. Seeing them growing up alongside you, going from adorable little kids that you befriend to young adults that you might become more than just friends with is an absolute pleasure. It’s clear that the people behind I Was a Teenage Exocolonist have a clear understanding of modern teenagers and have managed to recreate that experience faithfully. Yes, even including some of the more awkward moments, although I have to say they are a lot more charming if you are just a spectator looking in from the outside.

I Was a Teenage Exocolonist
Friend or Foe? What do you think?

The art style is another strong point of I Was a Teenage Exocolonist . These beautiful illustrations with their vibrant colours create such a vivid image of this alien world that you’ll be sure to fall in love with it. Similarly vibrant and beautiful is the soundtrack. It consists of songs that would make a great Lo-Fi beats to study to playlist. The music keeps you calm and cozy, but at the same time makes you long for discovery and adventure. There’s an unmistakeable Sci-Fi vibe to it all as well.

I Was a Teenage Exocolonist is a pleasure from beginning to end and one that I see myself going back to in the near future. It’s a game that seems to be built on empathy more than anything else and you can feel that in every aspect of the game.

Nairon played I Was a Teenage Exocolonist on PC with his own copy. I Was a Teenage Exocolonist is also available on Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

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