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News Opinions 29 May 2024, 03:46

Everyone's Waiting for Frostpunk 2, but The Alters May Actually Be 11 Bit’s Biggest Hit This Year

I had the pleasure of visiting Warsaw at the invitation of 11 bit studios and playing The Alters. Although I didn't expect it, after having some fun I conclude: this may be the most important game in this studio's portfolio in 2024.

Mixing survival, base construction, and management with a compelling plot doesn't seem like a winning formula. Meanwhile, after trying out The Alters, the latest release from 11 bit studios, I was left puzzled as it could be a game of the year contender.

You may have come across teasers for this title and probably don't fully grasp what The Alters is all about. Don't worry, everything is fine with you. Just the very idea of the game seems to be out of this world and is more similar to the science fiction works of Stanislaw Lem or Jacek Dukaj.

Multiverse, clones, and Jan Dolski

The game tells the story of Jan Dolski, who crashes his spaceship on a foreign, hostile planet. The entire crew dies, but miraculously and under mysterious circumstances, he is the only survivor. At this moment the game begins - our protagonist must quickly reach the base to take shelter from the radiation. When he gets there, it turns out that the base isn't in the best condition and requires repairs. Meanwhile, our courageous Janek isn't knowledgeable about every area of study. However, there's a unique substance called rapidium on the planet that enables cloning, but it's not the usual kind of cloning - it's more about creating alternative versions of Janek himself; Janek, who made different choices at crucial moments in his life, resulting in a completely different path.

So try to imagine what it would be like if you hadn't made a crucial decision in your life - how would it have been different? If you hadn't dropped out of college, accepted this or that job, moved to another country, didn't break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, where would you be now and who would you be? What if instead of studying economics, you went to study computer science? Instead of going to school in LA, you went to school in Boston? What if you left your family home or conversely - stayed in it? Do you have decisions in your past that you regret and wish you could undo?

Everyones Waiting for Frostpunk 2, but The Alters May Actually Be 11 Bit’s Biggest Hit This Year - picture #1

The Alters, 11 bit studios, 2024.

And that's what this, let's say, multidimensional cloning is all about. In order for Janek to fix machines whose functioning goes beyond his knowledge, he needs a technician, and to conduct research, he needs a scientist. The game then displays a timeline of his life and all the important moments in it. Then we can use rapidium to alter this timeline and change the life of an alternate Janek - so Janek becomes a scientist instead of a construction worker. To survive on a dangerous planet, we obviously need several alternative versions of Janek who will be able to manage our base.

Three games in one

The devs had three game ideas and they brought all of them to life - including a survival aspect. We have the option to leave the base at any time and venture out to an alien planet to search for metals and other materials needed for construction and maintenance. Here, once again, the game shifts from survival to building specialized base rooms and micromanagement, bringing to mind Fallout Shelter or another game by 11 bit studios - This War of Mine.

The plot of The Alters is, of course, the third element - 11 bit studios has made us accustomed to games that address challenging themes. Janek's life wasn't the easiest, and using cloning, which surpasses time and space, allows him to contemplate his own past mistakes and traumas. So we will be able to traverse our base and talk to our alters - who are initially rather hostile towards us. It's easy for conflict to arise because their characters are different, shaped by different experiences. In this whole social drama of many incarnations of Janek, there is one more problem they have to collectively deal with - escape from a dangerous, radioactive planet.

Everyones Waiting for Frostpunk 2, but The Alters May Actually Be 11 Bit’s Biggest Hit This Year - picture #2

The Alters, 11 bit studios, 2024.

Each of these components has been developed really well. I was especially worried about the survival stage, where we run across larger maps (although it's not an open world) - because 11 bit studios had no prior experience with this type of game. I may have been worrying too much in advance, as the exploration occurs in a truly stunning (though rugged) setting, doesn't cause irritation (except for running into blockers), and adds dynamism to the rest of the game. During this stage, we gather resources, find abandoned items that are useful in the base (such as films, which we can later watch together to socialize with our alter egos), and we also build. For instance, a mine on previously discovered ore deposits - but for it to work, we need to build power pylons and run a cable to our base, just like we did in Death Stranding.

Expanding the base, however, enables access to new functions (such as conducting research or manufacturing items that are used for exploration). We've seen all these elements in other games, but The Alters performs a specific synthesis here, which - surprisingly - turns out really well.

Everyones Waiting for Frostpunk 2, but The Alters May Actually Be 11 Bit’s Biggest Hit This Year - picture #3

The Alters, 11 bit studios, 2024.

One of the unusual connections I made while playing The Alters was with Stardew Valley - mainly due to a similar time and energy flow system. In the 11 bit studios game, our character can also faint from overwork. So, we need to focus on maintaining good sleep hygiene, but it's interesting that we can determine how long Janek should sleep. If we give him less time for sleep, he will be sleep-deprived the next day and will work less. This generates the need to plan what we will focus on each day, as we don't have enough time and energy for everything. We also have to assign various tasks to our alters, like cooking dinner.

Actor with many faces

Alex Jordan is the actor who provides the faces and voices for all of Jan Dolski's "clones", and he has played supporting and third-plan roles in well-known games such as Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, Dragon's Dogma II, and Final Fantasy XVI. It's worth mentioning that Alex Jordan provided the voice for the sex scenes in Baldur's Gate 3 - and only for those scenes.

The actor playing the role of Janek is amazing; he changes his acting and speaking style depending on the alters (a builder speaks differently than a scientist). I had the pleasure of meeting Alex at an event in Warsaw, where he was walking around in his game tracksuit - he turned out to be an extremely helpful and warm person who truly understands virtual entertainment and knows how to play The Alters, which isn't very common among actors.

We learned that Jordan's voice acting will be audible regardless of the selected language version.

The voice acting and performance of a single person (albeit in multiple roles) meshes seamlessly with the engaging plot right from the start. Nothing strange about it - it's 11 bit studios, and they love to tell stories. So, if you don't like survival games, don't dismiss The Alters because it's just one element of the game. The driving force and motivation to keep playing here is the science fiction story.

Everyones Waiting for Frostpunk 2, but The Alters May Actually Be 11 Bit’s Biggest Hit This Year - picture #4

The Alters, 11 bit studios, 2024.

This title looks and presents itself great, but besides the graphics, I have to mention the music, because it's in a completely different league. It brought to mind the mentioned Death Stranding and effectively highlights the sense of alienation.

I've only played for just under two hours, so I won't try to build up any special hype here. However, if the rest of the game is as good as its beginning, we can confidently assume that we have another Polish hit on our hands. I spoke with members of the studio and they used the term "dark horse" several times. Indeed, while all eyes are more likely to be focused on Frostpunk 2, it's The Alters that, in my opinion, could bring 11 Bit its greatest success in 2024.

Matthias Pawlikowski

Matthias Pawlikowski

The editor-in-chief of, associated with the site since the end of 2016. Initially, he worked in the guides department, and later he managed it, eventually becoming the editor-in-chief of Gamepressure, an English-language project aimed at the West, before finally taking on his current role. In the past, a reviewer and literary critic, he published works on literature, culture, and even theater in many humanities journals and portals, including the monthly Znak or Popmoderna. He studied literary criticism and literature at the Jagiellonian University. Likes old games, city-builders and RPGs, including Japanese ones. Spends a huge amount of money on computer parts. Apart from work and games, he trains tennis and occasionally volunteers for the Peace Patrol of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity.


The Alters

The Alters