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Pioneers of Pagonia Early Access Review – Zen Village Builder

Pioneers of Pagonia is a village building game developed by Envision Entertainment and launched on Steam early access on December 13, 2023. Set in a vibrant and mysterious world called Pagonia, you take on the role of pioneers who have been tasked with building a new home for their people in several preset scenarios and once you’ve learned the basics, you can set up your own scenarios to play through. It’s very chill, looks beautiful, runs like a dream and is a joy to play.

The world of Pagonia is absolutely beautiful with lush green grass, shimmering ocean and forests and mountains that are shrouded in clouds, begging to be explored. After establishing basic buildings, your explorers head off beyond your initial border and slowly expand your field of vision, unlocking new provisions, ore types and finding new lands to settle in. I love the game’s art style and the level of detail when zoomed right in to see the various villager types going about their business and watching a building being erected is fascinating.

You will need to manage your resources and these are easily seen in the top bar of the UI. There is plenty of information displayed to get started, and you can easily customise and change the resources tracked as you find more resource types. The workers all work autonomously so there’s very little micro-managing required which allowed me to focus on the buildings required in the guidance list. Watching hundreds of villagers going about their business, queueing up at the market to distribute provisions reminded me of the queues of people waiting for rides in the original Theme Park.

The starting map in Pioneers of Pagonia and some other premade maps are non-combative so you can chill out and enjoy the village growing in front of your eyes. Other maps like Cursed Coast have you needing to focus more on military buildings, crafting weapons and armour and forming combat groups. You can set patrol paths for your military units to guard, and they will try to defend from enemy attacks.

Bandits and other simple enemies can be dispatched relatively easily, but when you find werewolves and ghosts, you need to recruit specific military units such as rangers and fearnaughts to take the monsters out. Otherwise ordinary soldiers will run in fear or be slaughtered outright. There are also thieves that sneak around and raiding your supplies, and only rangers can identify them.

Other villages you come across will seek to set up trade routes and you can build friendships with them depending on how much you want to trade. In doing so, they may send better deals for treasures and other items. You can’t completely ally to have them join your kingdom but just having them as friendly neighbours that you can adjust trade volumes with is good enough for now.

For an early access game and aside from a couple of UI elements that say coming soon, you’d be forgiven for feeling Pioneers of Pagonia was a finished product. There’s plenty of variety in the seven pre-made scenarios or you can set your own parameters. The biggest takeaway I took from my time in the game so far is how chill the gameplay is. I’m not stressing that there are X number of workers sitting idle, or that this resource has run out. With forests being able to be replanted by your villagers, the whole experience is zen-like.

Combat and thieves certainly keep you on your toes, but the variety of maps provides enough to make each new game feel different enough. The early access roadmap can be seen on the game’s Steam store page with the next big economy update coming in February 2024 which will add a fishing hut, big storage, and production statistics. I am particularly excited for the co-op update sometime in 2024 which allows you to team up with friends with new objectives, discoveries and artifacts.

Overall, Pioneers of Pagonia is already a fantastic village building game with highly details graphics, intuitive village design and zen-like gameplay. The villagers scurry to and fro, automatically getting to work and moving to where they need to be, so there’s very little micromanaging. I love the slow progression of exploration meaning I didn’t feel pressured to expand the village, and the premade maps gave great variety. I’m looking forward to watching the game develop further during early access.

This review utilised a key provided by UberStrategist and Pioneers of Pagonia is available now on Steam early access.


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