It’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere (and winter in the Northern one), no new Twitch leaks, nobody sent emails from the FBI infrastructure anymore, BlackBerry is dead, North Korean defectors are so disappointed in the Western society that they are now defecting back to DPRK, Kanye is still weird, log4j is more like fix4j, Covid-19 is still around, you’re not dead yet and you have more free time than usually, so what do you do? You shitpost and play video games, of course, what a silly question! Here’s what I played lately:
The Colonists is a lovely game by Codebyfire, a game where you have to build a new home for your team of robots as they begin a new life for themselves on a distant planet where they can fulfil their ultimate dream: to be human. The game reminds me of Settlers and Anno series which is definitely an endorsement because Settlers and Anno are some of the best city-building and real-time strategy video game series.
You begin with just your Colony Ship and you expand your “empire” via building roads, harvesting resources, doing researches and such, therefore requiring a lot of micromanagement (nothing that should scare you). Construct road, boat and train transport systems, harvest resources and set up production lines, discover new lands and battle for survival; you’ll advance through three different ages as you build infrastructure for your colony
Once you do get a grasp of things it can become very satisfying to tinker with optimal layouts and building preferences, as to develop as quickly and efficiently as you can. You’ll soon get a good eye for exactly where you should place your orchards or your sheep farm, for instance, and exactly the best way to build your roads around a level. Each level also has mineral deposits that you need to reach to mine certain materials, so you have to consider this when planning. Plus you will have to place watchtowers to expand your visible terrain and your available building space.
When everything is working, the game is a delight. The playful block art style and colour scheme also help to make this feel like your toy box come to life. Coupled with a beautiful melancholy electronic soundtrack, this is a game you can easily lose hours to with a smile on your face.
The game runs on Windows, macOS and Linux and is huge HUGE fun, definitely recommended because it’s one of the best city-building games I’ve played lately.
In Timberborn you control a bunch of lumberpunk beavers and help them build a beaverlicious city. While Timberborn is still in early access (game is not complete, things might change), it’s quite polished and fun, featuring ingenious animals, vertical architecture, river control, and deadly droughts. Contains high amounts of wood. No, really, you need to get lots of wood for your beavers. The game has wet and dry seasons, day and night differences (beavers sleep at night and you can’t coerce them to build stuff), droughts so you need to stockpile resources and food, keep forests alive after the rivers dry up while relying on artificial irrigation to keep the lands arable.
But also your beavers are lumberpunk so they have explosives, can put up dams and floodgates, dig canals and turn timber into sophisticated machinery. Oh, and the lovely vertical architecture system where you can stack buildings on top of each other, construct platforms and bridges to connect everything. There are two factions of beavers in the game, Folktails that are conservative wood-worshipping beavers and the Iron Teeth that are industrialists.
Runs on Windows and macOS, Mechanistry did a really good job so the game is definitely recommended, I’m still hearing beaver sounds in my sleep. The only thing that I didn’t like is that the game feels really short, after you played both factions and there is no more room on your map you’re pretty much done. But that is probably because of its early access status and the final release will improve on that.
Oh, did I mention I love beavers and it was always my dream to be their supreme leader, Beaver the First, and lead my mercenary beaver army to take over the virgin forests with nothing but strong teeth and sheer willpower? Now you know.
Tinytopia by MeNic Games is more of a puzzle game than a classic simulation city-builder, it’s all about balancing the needs of your citizenry with the needs of gravity. It’s an unique combination that’s plenty of fun, absolutely worth a look, if only because, again, it’s the only game where you get to build a city on a rotating turntable.
The levels are mixed with real-life cities making an appearance such as New York and Toyko. Then there are challenging physics-based levels that task you with trying to build cities on quirky foundations. Such as a revolving turntable, a seesaw and bicycle pedals. I found these levels to be the most fun and they provided me with a good challenge in a different way. You have to focus on things like building and height or weight distribution and pray what you have constructed doesn’t tumble over.
The hook of Tinytopia, beyond the excellent tilt-shift photograph look that is immediately reminiscent of LEGO blocks or a model train set, is the upgrade system. Everything you place in the world has an upgrade path. A simple house can have four people living in it, and it’ll generate a certain amount of tax revenue. Placing a house next to that house bumps it to level two, and placing four in a grid can upgrade them to level three. Condos, finance offices, stores, and everything in between can be upgraded this way.
The fact that the monsters that can attack the town are wind-up toys seals the deal for me, runs on Windows and macOS, it’s a simple, silly fun game that will bring out the kid in you. If you have one, of course.