In Greek mythology, Ixion is a character defined by hubris. He killed his father-in-law for petty reasons and attempted to seduce the goddess Hera while a guest in Mount Olympus. As punishment for selfish disregard of humanity and the gods, Zeus bound Ixion to a spinning wheel of fire that travels endlessly through the sky and the underworld. For better or worse, Bulwark Studios’ city-building survival game, IXION, is a game about that wheel and humanity’s attempt to survive its flames.
The world of IXION is one in which humanity has forced themselves to find a way to survive off-Earth, as they have depleted all of its resources. The solution that humanity found was a giant space station called Tiqqun (pronounced “tycoon”), which is the product of an organization called DOLOS. While the Tiqqun is preparing for its maiden voyage, players take on the role of the Administrator and are given an in-depth tutorial about IXION‘s primary mechanics.
Players are first introduced to the city-building part of the game, which features mechanics that fans of this genre will be very familiar with. Players are given a mostly empty grid and variety of buildings to fill it with. These buildings include apartments, mess halls, warehouses, and stockpiles that are crucial for making resource management feel fun and not tedious; though it doesn’t always succeed. Some basic resources, such as alloy, are located in pre-placed buildings that only have a finite amount of those resources. Getting them to stockpiles is crucial and doing so means building roads which, thankfully, don’t require resources to build.
IXION‘s survival mechanics go hand in hand with the city-building, as players will be responsible for the well-being of the population through things like food production, power, and medical care. There is a dedicated U.I. that shows the level of happiness among the population, as well as a trust meter towards the top of the screen. The trust meter is crucial to player success as it can be a big factor in determining success or failure, as low trust can result in a mutiny or rebellion. Like Frostpunk, a great survival game in its own right, this meter is affected by how the player responds to difficult situations that arise which often gives players a difficult task to achieve and a harsh penalty if they fail.
IXION is built around incredibly detailed mechanics that, while impressive, create two significant barriers for players. First, it isn’t too welcoming to players that are new to the genre because the sheer amount of tasks, resources, and responsibilities will quickly become overwhelming. Second, despite this review being done on an AMD Ryzen 5 5600G processor and GeForce GTX 1660 Super graphics card, which is above the minimum requirements listed on IXION‘s Steam page, there were regular crashes after opening only the second of IXION‘s nine sectors.
So, in order effectively play this challenging city-building, survival hybrid, players will need an upper mid-tier PC. It’s unfortunate because IXION is a game that quickly catches the player’s attention and, despite it’s high demands of the player, it finds a way to feel balanced and fair. For those that enjoy this type of game and have the hardware to comfortably play it, then there’s no hesitation in recommending this title. Otherwise, it might be better to start with a less intense game in this genre and wait for some performance patches to avoid the punishment of the ever spinning wheels of fire and buffering.
IXION is available December 7 for PC. Screen Rant was provided with a Steam digital download for the purpose of this review.