Developed by Haemimont Games and published by Frontier Foundry, Stranded: Alien Dawn started its life as an Early Access game back in November 2022 and since then, the game has been getting constant content updates. Even after leaving its Early Access phase back in April 2023, we are still getting free content updates for the game which is a great thing. Since Stranded: Alien Dawn follows the system of scenarios and maps, it is really easy to add new content to the game in the form of a new scenario and a map and Haemimont Games is using this to bring brand-new content to the game even now. The latest Jungle Update is a clear example of this, and it adds a brand-new map to the game along with tons of new improvements and additions. This is our review of the Stranded: Alien Dawn – Jungle Update on PC via Steam in which we explore the new Saltu region and tackle the annoying Scissorhands for some silicon.
After you update your game to the latest version, you can now choose Saltu in the regions section of the game. Saltu is a tropical jungle region and right after arriving on the map, you will notice that it is also one of the prettiest regions to be added to the game. Being tropical in nature, it is filled with greenery, as there are plenty of different types of thick trees, bushes, and grass everywhere.
Few areas are wide open right from the start which means that you will need to do a lot of cutting in order to expand your base after a while. Being a jungle, it is also filled with different types of fauna both hostile and peaceful, so there is plenty of options for you right from the start of the game. You will start with the basics just like always by building shelters, finding food sources, and observing the new flora and fauna to make the most out of them when you start using them for resources.
The map is really colorful, especially in its forests where apart from lush greenery, you will find different plant types of vibrant colors such as yellow, red, blue, and others. This gives you a true tropical jungle feel with an alien aesthetic to them because the plant designs are ultimately alien despite their bright colors. Another thing you will notice is the amount of diversity that the map has when it comes to its terrain. Apart from dense jungles, there are swamps, lakes, and rivers that you can use to your benefit both aesthetically and scientifically.
Based on your scenario, the debris from your spaceship will also be covered by overgrowth in no time just like you would expect from a normal tropical forest. Saltu also has tons of rain and thunderstorms, and you will likely experience it from the very first day of your arrival. During my playthroughs of this map, it was raining nearly every day for me with some thunderstorms thrown in the mix which brought with them the dangerous lightning which caused damage whenever it fell somewhere. Visually, Saltu is the best-looking map however it might appear to be a little smaller when compared to the previous maps added to the game or it might be the case that because it feels like an island since it is surrounded by water or there are dense jungles everywhere and very few open spaces.
Another new aspect of Saltu is the number of diseases that it brings with it. Typical for any rainforest, Saltu is no different and your survivors are prone to getting sick more than usual here as some of the natural food sources have a chance of poisoning your survivors even when cooked. The hot and humid weather of the planet is not the most suitable for humans and the local flora has adapted according to their own survival and while it may be fine for human consumption, it is still poisonous and can affect those who consume them in different ways Lucky for you, with all these diseases and health problems present on Saltu, the latest survivor Melody Adeyemi is perfect for this hot and humid planet. Melody brings her vast experience in medicine to the table and allows you to heal new diseases such as gut worms and blood infections easily. She is a capable healer and you will need her expertise on the new planet.
Apart from the new diseases, Saltu brings tons of other challenges for you to handle as well. Torrential rains and thunderstorms mean that your survivors will always be soaking while they are working outside which makes them unhappy. Apart from this, you will also need to research and place down different lightning rods to control the lightning strikes which will damage your placements and even survivors. If you love farming and create a lot of farms, you will need to watch out for Xenoflora blight as well which is a new disease for crops, and it can ruin your day very easily. Since this is a hot and humid planet, you will also require more electricity to keep your freezers and Acs powered.
Saltu surely looks beautiful, but it is filled with different new challenges for you to manage. For me, it has the perfect balance of challenge and fairness because compared to the previous maps, Saltu feels more balanced in every way. No matter what type of player you are, you will notice the balance that this map has to offer from every perspective if you can spend a few hours on it. For every problem, there is a fairly simple remedy, but you have to aim for that remedy and achieve it to retain that balance, otherwise, this hot and humid planet will be your demise. However, all is not gloom and doom on this planet because you have some fancy new tools up your sleeve as well.
Crafting offers you some cool new tools that you can use to ensure that your survivors are much more resistant to the new weather system. Since the weather remains warm throughout the year, you do not have to craft and stock winter clothes, but you will instead need something new things to survive the toxic new environment. Your survivors can now craft and store survival kits with them for longer exploration trips and since the planet favors plenty of farming throughout the year, you can use the new harvesting tool to harvest your crops efficiently and quickly. For night expeditions, you can use night goggles for better visibility, and for those toxic areas, you can craft respiratory masks which will allow breathing under toxic conditions. There are plenty of new research items as well for you to play around with.
Stranded: Alien Dawn – Jungle Update arrives at a time when players were starting to look for additional content for the game and I am happy to say that fans of the game will not be disappointed with it when they return to the game and try it out. I always wanted a tropical jungle region because it gives us much more to explore when it comes to flora and fauna. There are new plants to discover, new fauna to fight, tame and eat, and there are plenty of new things to explore in the latest update. The Jungle Update expands the game even more with a new survivor, and a brand-new region, and shows us that Haemimont Games is adding diverse new environments to the game. Best of all, all of the new content is free and if you own the base game, you just have to upgrade your game to gain access to it. All of the previously added content is fully compatible with it, and you can create a diverse amount of scenarios in a brand-new location.
Despite leaving its early access period, Stranded: Alien Dawn is still getting new and free content which shows that this game is bound to have a long life. Thanks to its scenario and map system, the developers can continue to add new content to the game as long as they like, and this could mean pretty well for the players as well. I love Stranded: Alien Dawn and I am really happy to see solid content updates like the new Jungle Update arrive in the game. Saltu is a beautiful new addition to the game and there are tons of new additions and improvements to look forward to in the new update. If you have been spending time in Stranded: Alien Dawn before, I will highly recommend that you jump back into the game to try out the new region and content.
Final Score: 8.5/10