Welcome to The Next World - a strategic visual novel telling the story of a crashed colony ship and its ragged group of survivors, trying to make a new life on the wrong planet. Craft plans, make decisions, and manage your colony's limited resources in a desperate fight to stay alive.
User reviews:
Mostly Positive (54 reviews) - 72% of the 54 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Mar 7, 2016

Sign in to add this item to your wishlist, follow it, or mark it as not interested

Buy The Next World

Buy The Next World: Exploration Bundle

Includes 3 items: The Next World, The Next World Soundtrack, The Next World: Planetary Exploration

Buy The Next World: Deluxe Bundle

Includes 2 items: The Next World, The Next World Soundtrack


Recent updates View all (6)

August 5

A Wild Expansion Appears! - Planetary Exploration 1.1.1

It's time to take a much closer look at the planet which now hosts the last, battered remnants of the Exodus mission -- and at the niche which those survivors can carve out for themselves in their hostile environment.

The Planetary Exploration expansion offers:

● A completely new exploration system
● Direct your salvage expeditions in detail
● Find ore to mine - then mine it!
● Manage your colony's power needs in detail with the new Power resource
● Discover dozens of new events and conversations

The Next World now has so much more to offer -- you simply can't miss out.


2 comments Read more

August 1

Free Soundtrack Expansion!

To commemmorate the impending release of The Next World: Planetary Exploration, our beefy expansion to the original game, we're adding the expansion's music to our regular soundtrack, free of charge. It features several brand-new tracks by our extremely talented composer Steve Barnes, all of which are unique to the expansion.

It's just a little taste of the high-quality content to come. Planetary Exploration features a huge slew of new art, sound effects, exploration events, and more. It will be going on sale very soon, so watch this space!

0 comments Read more

About This Game

Welcome to The Next World - a strategic visual novel by Illuminated Games, telling the story of a crashed colony ship and its ragged group of survivors, trying to make a new life on the wrong planet.

TNW is a visual novel/strategy hybrid inspired by The Banner Saga, King of Dragon Pass and Oregon Trail, with an emphasis on planning and decision-making over combat. Keep as many colonists alive as possible by making the tough decisions which will determine how your adventure unfolds. Build colony structures, salvage wreckage, resolve problems with multiple branching outcomes, and manage your colony's dwindling supplies; all while playing through an intense story of political intrigue, sabotage, desperation and survival, by writer Ryan A. Span (FRONTIERS, Mount&Blade, Euclidean).

  • Robust strategy system - manage your colony on a hostile world & keep your people alive
  • Fully hand-drawn art in retro-industrial sci-fi style
  • Two different protagonists to choose from, each with their own quirks and methods
  • Colourful and memorable cast of NPCs
  • Dozens of events to help you or challenge you
  • Hundreds of decisions to make, each with its own consequences

System Requirements

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: Windows XP
    • Processor: 1 Ghz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX or OpenGL compatible card
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 350 MB available space
    • OS: Mac OS 10.4
    • Processor: 1 Ghz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Storage: 350 MB available space
    • Processor: 1 Ghz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Storage: 350 MB available space
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated Sept. 2016! Learn more
Mostly Positive (54 reviews)
Review Type

Purchase Type


Display As:

(what is this?)
44 reviews match the filters above ( Mixed)
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
59 of 68 people (87%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: March 8
Let me start by saying there is a lot to like about this game. I like how challengin it is early on and how careful you have to be in how you manage your colony. And the story is very interesting, unfortunately you have basically no say in how it really unfolds.

I didn't think this was the case at first. Many of the descisions you make clearly effect things like morale, the health of your colony, and so on. But for me part of the fun of a game like this is seeing what happens when you go back and make different choices. My first game I lost pretty early on. The second time, I make it to the end and won. So I went back to play a third game, to see what paths the different choices led me down. And this is where the game let me down.

As a heads up there are some spoilers for the early game here.

One of the early decisions in the game is wether or not to risk getting a reactor, which you need to power your base, but is damaged and leaking radiation. Having won the game once, I wanted to challenge myself, and see how long I could keep the base going without getting the reactor. I was enjoying the challange, until a story event happened. An explosion in the reactor I didn't have. The worse part is the mechanic of the game was clearly going to force me to either go get the reactor, or loose. But having a scripted event happen, that didn't reflect the current state of my base. And suddenly it was no longer fun.

All the decision I had made on my first play through no longer felt like they mattered. The game presents you with several moral choices, ask you to decide wether you will turn your security force into a secret police that crushes any dissent, or try and retain a semblance of law and order. And although you often see your choices reflected in the systems of the game, the moral level for instance, if it's not reflected in the actual story you are told, what's the point?

The characters are intereseting, and the early game seems to promise the chance to learn more about them. When I won the first time I assumed that I had just missed opportunities to learn more about their past, and to trigger other story lines. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. But I can't say I'm interested in going back anymore because now I'm spending lots of time clicking through lots of text I've already read, in hopes of find another story line.

It's a wordy game, and that's not a bad thing. But if you're going to ask your player to read that much and offer all these choices, then they need to be able to effect the narative. Otherwise, you should just make a graphic novel, and not bother trying to make it a game.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
16 of 20 people (80%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: March 8
This game plays like a early access title. Much of the game feels unfinished or needs more balancing. Fear the RNG because it doesn't take much in the first week of the game for a single disaster to force a roll back. Additionally the mechanics of the game such as health or morale are completly hidden, you have no idea how much harm reduced rations will cause or what direction your popularity is going. The popularity is especially important to know if you decided to allow elections, I had good morale but had no idea if this meant that I would be elected over my rival.

Overall, don't buy now. There is a lot of potential but the game needs to be finished first.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
29 of 46 people (63%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
16.5 hrs on record
Posted: March 7
I was an official tester and I really enjoyed it. The Next World has an interesting mix of turn-based strategy and visual novel going on. While it does not focus too deeply on one aspect exclusively, it does bring an amazing experience with an awesome story by unifying those aspects.

I loved the personality of each character, their growth and the story development. Meanwhile the gameplay itself has a rogue-like feel, but without being as severe, creating a great experience flow.

I recommend it if you are looking for something refreshing and different with a deep story filled with moral choices.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
9 of 10 people (90%) found this review helpful
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 15
I was surprised, surprised and relieved, in a good way, when I got to the end of The Next World. Up until I actually saw the end credits roll, I was certain, certain that my little colony was going to fail.

The Next World puts you in the role of either Shen or Lucy (your choice), as they try to lead a small group of survivors who’ve crashlanded on a hostile alien world. At first the goal is simple: “meet basic needs,” but it quickly escalates from there.

Genre-wise, you’re looking at a visual novel that includes a small amount of base/resource management. It plays a bit like King of Dragon Pass in that there are random events that happen every turn, but The Next world offers more simplicity and direction than its inspiration. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is a matter of taste, but I personally lean toward good since the story is the real driver here. A more complicated simulation system would just frustrate your attempts to see what happens next.

As it stands, the base management part of The Next World focuses on ordering your vehicles around. Rovers can go exploring or salvaging; transports can also salvage (and are much better at it) or can be used to construct new buildings; both are required to perform special missions from time to time. Other than that, you can decide how much food your colonists get to eat, which affects their health and morale, which in turn affects whether or not you win or lose.

Yes, there is a lose condition in this game. If the population of your colony drops below 50 people, that’s it--game over man, game over. And it will drop. I forget exactly how many people I started with, but I believe it was well over a thousand, and that number slowly dropped as accidents, disease, and random events took them down. At one point, I was losing dozens of people every day due to illness, probably caused by the fact that I’d put them all on quarter-rations in order to get the resources necessary to build some important structures. By the time the colony stabilized to the point where it was generating sufficient food and resources, there were 63 people left. Which meant I spent the rest of the game with my fingers crossed that no more accidents would arise.

The tension generated by that experience is The Next World’s greatest selling point. I never felt like I was fully in control of the situation. I was always worried that every decision I’d been making was wrong. And I suspect that’s exactly what the developers wanted you to feel. After all, you play the role of a junior-ranking official thrust into a leadership position he/she was never prepared for. As I said at the start, the fact I got to a happy ending came as a pleasant surprise. I breathed a very real sigh of relief, content that things turned out all right, though still sad that a relative handful of my virtual citizens came out unscathed.

You’ll note I’ve been vague about the story. That’s deliberate, because there’s no way to talk about it without ruining the surprise. It’s quite well-written, though, and made my jaw drop more than once as plot twists were slowly revealed. The Next World is definitely one of my favorite visual novels to date… though, let’s face it, most of the competition is pretty lame.

It’s still a visual novel, though, and that’s the biggest criticism I can make about the game. Although I personally enjoy the form, there’s nothing in The Next World that will make an outsider feel the same. Current VN fans will find a lot to love here, as will anyone who enjoys good sci-fi tales. Less niche gamers, however, probably won’t; I’d have to direct those to the Telltale games instead.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
10 of 12 people (83%) found this review helpful
4.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 9
This is a fun mix of visual-novel style conversations with a resource-management game. I enjoyed the story, and was pleased with how it ended. Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
9 of 11 people (82%) found this review helpful
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: March 9
The base building/management sections of the game are serviceable and the decent story disguises the simplicity of the game mechanics fairly well at first. But after a while you start to notice that how well you do in the management/base building section doesn't really affect the story. Also the story kind of lost momentum in the third act.

Was hoping for a game that captured the beauty of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri but replaced war/diplomacy with exploration and discovery and an intrigueing narrative.

Instead it's a (very good) visual novel with a minigame.

Would still recommend as I enjoyed myself though.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
7 of 8 people (88%) found this review helpful
7.2 hrs on record
Posted: March 8
A very cool visual Novel combined with strategic elements.

Everytime when I thought, oke I have enough resources, something happens that drains all your resources and your like F*ck. So you really have to think long term with this game.

The prologue is kind of long and I don't know if the choices you make in the prologue does anyhing at all except for choosing what charater you play.

Visuals are good. Most of it are static pictures, but there are some little cutscenes.
The Music is relaxing, but there is not much variation.
Characters are oke.
Strategic Elements are simple to understand, and very good.

It would be a good addition for anyone who loves Visual Novels.

See my gameplay below. Althouh maybe a bit boring, because most the game is just reading. Anyway Enjoy!

Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
17 of 27 people (63%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
112.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 7
Hey folks, i would like to give you my impressions as an official tester of the game and hope you will find it helpful or at least interesting.

The Next World is a pretty unique blend of strategy, management and story-telling. It is inspired by titles like King of Dragon Pass, but manages to create its own particular flavor. A largely linear story-line (albeit with various endings) is combined with random events and colony management. So while the overall direction is not procedurally generated, the path that you walk varies based on your careful planning, the incidents you encounter and your decisions on how to handle them.

The game is text-heavy, but the writing is good and conveys an engaging story. Combined with the dire situation you find yourself in, the scarce ressources, dying colonists, and a continous flow of new challenges, i felt compelled to read everything and found the experience to be fun, tense, engaging and varied.

To me the most exciting period in TNW is the struggle through the early game. It really feels like a dreadful situation, where every ray of hope also casts new shadows. Once you manage to get through that you will have some time to explore, upgrade and expand (you do this throughout the game, but the focus in early game is on using anything and everything to address basic needs), though it is just the calm before the final storm, which should best be used to prepare well.

I find it a bit difficult to fully describe and explain the gameplay, so i will recommend the gameplay video you can find in the community hub (if you dont mind some minor spoilers). Still i will also try to go over some basics. Your primary concern is to keep your colonists alive or at the very least some of them. To do this, you will want to keep morale and health at good levels, which is based on the supplies (food/drink) that are available (you can ration these) as well as the modules added to your base (providing you with supplies and ressources (for construction/upgrades/etc), but also with boni to health and happiness) and the decisions you make as a leader. The latter can range from choosing between salvaging, exploration or building to making tough calls in the various events that can occur throughout your journey. All of these aspects intertwine to some degree as a lucky event or locating and salvaging a good module may help you set up a base that gives you enough breathing space to handle a later unfortunate turn of fate.

Edit: A question on replayability popped up on a different review and just to be sure, i will share my answer here as well.

"[Replayability is] Pretty decent. Even after the 120 hours that steam logged for my testing, i still enjoy starting over for another round. I wouldn't say that you should expect as many hours as i have, since i racked a lot up due to my task, but the colony management and various events as well as 2 playable main characters and various endings (and the possibility of failure) certainly allow for several play throughs."

It is indie. It is retro. It is good. It is not Telltale. It is not KoDP. It is The Next World.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
8 of 10 people (80%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
3.9 hrs on record
Posted: March 8
The blend of virtual novel and turn based strategy is interesting. The events often have hard and meaningful decisions and I get a degree of a Banner Saga vibe from the general gameplay, as you work to protect your colonists. I will try to update with more details as I get more time in the game.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
9 of 12 people (75%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: March 7
this is a hard but fun manigment game, been realy enjoying it and trying to save my people
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Recently Posted
Nathaniel Prime
2.7 hrs
Posted: September 26
The story in this game is great! The game in this game, not so much. It is a colony management simulation with the very real and apparently almost inevitable threat of your entire colony dying. The exact mechanics are unclear and your ability to win seems to be entirely based on chance. Seems like the developers should have stuck with a visual novel instead.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
No Name
0.5 hrs
Posted: September 25
I really wanted to enjoy this. The problem is the profanity in the character conversation.
I wanted strategy, survival and story... adding vulgar words adds nothing good.
Wasted my money on a game I don't want to play and definitely cannot share with family.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
19.4 hrs
Posted: September 20
The Next World is an immersive and entertaining science fiction visual novel game that requires strategy and colonial management. The story and science fiction elements of the game are very impressive. It is written well, and the graphics are beautifully drawn.

The colonial management in the game is very difficult, but incredibly addictive. Working out strategies to mitigate the (inevitable) casualties your colony is going to suffer is a lot of fun given all the hardships you face. The choice of the main player character also added different story elements to the game. While your player character choice doesn't diverge the story dramatically, there were enough changes to satisfy me and provide replayability.

I played the Next World when it first came out and thoroughly enjoyed the original. There were a number of elements I felt could have been improved, and when I discovered that the new DLC (Planetary Exploration) was available I downloaded it immediately. The new DLC is a great addition that improves on an already very good game. The most substantial change relates to, unsurprisingly, planetary exploration. While there is still a very welcome degree of randomness, the inclusion of a planetary map is a good one. This is in addition to the many new exploration events that enhance the game. In some ways the game felt more challenging, but on reflection this was getting used to the new options available to the player. I also welcome the enhancements to the power-management event chain regarding the decision whether to pursue a fusion reactor or a renewable energy strategy.

My young son and I both enjoyed playing the Next World thoroughly. I am looking forward to future DLC and further developments — there is definitely potential for the game to be enlarged in a very big way. I recommend.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
15.0 hrs
Posted: August 20
Very interesting reading I have enjoed it a lot.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
68.4 hrs
Posted: August 7
Product received for free
Hello, I was one of the testers for this game since it's BETA form and I also had the pleasure of testing the new expansion as well.
I will mention that though I was asked to provide a review, what I say will consist of my own thoughts only as I have been partially responsible for balancing, suggesting ideas from time to time and also because I couldn't make a convincing lie if I tried.

The Game is essentially about Survival, Morality and Choice. Your ship crashes on a fairly harsh and barren planet and it's up to you as either one of the main protagonists (Either Shen or Lucy) to manage the last few remaining human beings in existence to a possibly prosperous future. Both of the playable characters offer slightly different experiences mechanically though I would say the main reason you would play either one of them is for a different perspective story-wise.

The hardest part about this game would be making the choices. Everything you can do will effect the game in a major way. There is not one set way to go about this game and as someone who used to complete the Vanilla version of the game about 5 times a day, I believe my opinion holds up to be true, especially since some of the results and events are a little bit random at times. Not so Random as to determine whether you'll win or lose instantly but random enough to change the course of things. My biggest tip for this game would be to question every decision you can before you commit to them as every choice no matter how small it is will point you towards one result or another.

As for who this game is for. It's a rather Niche game as it takes on a somewhat realistic and down to earth approach to how it's story is told. It's not about romance though the various crew members you have to work along are all fairly different and charming to some degree. It's a bit odd in that it's a mixture of Strategy and a bit of Storytelling. but, if you've got the patience to sit down and enjoy something a bit more mature than your average Visual Novel, it's worth a shot as it's a fairly enjoyable and enlightening experiance.

As for the game if you get the expansion. I would say it's a lot more challenging and rewarding as it both adds events, builds on it's mechanics which opens up more routes/choice to you and it builds on it's characterisation a bit more.
I won't say that the game is rubbish without the expansion as I believe the vanilla version is complete for what it is but should you enjoy the vanilla experience, you may want to try the expansion.

Honestly, if you've taken an interest in this game, just go with your gut, you'll probably like it.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
1.5 hrs
Posted: August 5
Can not recomend this game. Punishing randomness with nothing you can do, way too easy to end up in a talespin of resource loss that leads to defeat, and all together the kind of grind that is neither fun nor satisfying. This game has been compared to Dragon Pass and Alpha Centauri, but having played both of those I fail to see the link. Beyond the 'those games were actually fun' bit, Dragon Pass actually has your storyline actions majorly effect what happens in the game, which Next World does not, and is far farer in gameplay. Meanwhile, the only link I can find to Alpha Centauri is the line it Next World feeds you when you click on the exit button, and the fact that the game is set on an alien planet.

I can see what the designers wanted to do, but as is they should be ashamed to be taking our money, much less putting out an 'expansion pack' that seems mainly to serve to make the resource situation even more punishing, as now you have to explore before scavanging.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
A developer has responded on Aug 6 @ 12:29am
(view response)
Splendid Swarm
11.2 hrs
Posted: July 23
Here is a game that throws you into a hostile environment, where your choices alone will dictate whether or not you and your people live to see another day. If you think that sounds unforgiving, you'd be right. The mantle of leadership will quickly wear heavy on your shoulders, as the gravity of your situation becomes clear. Can you make the decisions no one else will? Can you lie to people, telling them everything will be alright, knowing fully well it will not. Can you send dozens of people to their deaths so that many more may have a chance at life?

In the end, what is more important to you? Their survival or your humanity?

Aside from a thoroughly enjoyable game, this product gets a high recommendation from me because of the dev's outstanding willingness to see their product succeed. Going so far as to contact me and personally assist in resolving a major, in-game issue I experienced.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
3.4 hrs
Posted: July 15
I am not new to games that stack the odds against you. I love playing Faster Than Light, and there are other games I have played in the past that could be considered difficult. The Next World though, can be quite hard.

Even with a good strategy you can succumb early to a no win situation developing simply because you didn't get lucky with some of the random events. Some people may complain that this makes The Next World a bad game. This cannot be further from the truth.

Sure, failure may seem inevitable on some play throughs, but the ones that you win against all odds balance out the losses for me. There is an immense sense of accomplishment with reaching a win condition when the entire game is rooting for your loss.

The story is good, interesting, and compelling. Though I have beat the game once already. I can see myself replaying it multiple times to see how different scenarios act out and how different characters treat each other.

I highly recommend this game for anyone who likes a story driven game, that also rewards good critical thinking in certain situations.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
6.2 hrs
Posted: July 10
Good little game. Story is not greaest but it holds up. Would be hard to prolong it with this type of setting anyway.
You have basic managment of your base, some random events and decisions to make. Some of them are moraly tough and = bad. Puts you ino the right mood.
If I have to find any minuses than it would be:
-No skip option. You can use auto-forward on max speed but it doest always work as fast as it can.

- Game is short. 6 hours to finish as 1 of 2 characters and see half of the endings. Because game is short some of your choices do not get long term influence they could. Some characters got way less development than I wanted.
Game last for 60-70 turns total,

For its price on summer sale its worth it. I had my fun and probably will play as second character for total of 10-12 hours.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
4.2 hrs
Posted: July 7
Great little game. If you want to feel what it is like to be a leader who is forced to make hard decisions this game is for you. I wish the novel part of the game was a bit more interactive with more agency given to the player but for an indie game the choices are fair and meaningful. I am still trying to keep over 500 colonists alive long enough to build a sustainable colony but so far no luck.

Hundreds must die for hundreds to live, unless you are very lucky.

I hope for more games like this to be made in the future. Perhaps with more of an RP focus.
Helpful? Yes No Funny