The city building genre is having a moment right now, both at the high end of the market (Cities Horizons 2) or, more commonly, the smaller end (just look at the Steam sales charts for any day of the week). Easily slip into this last category Terrascapeone of my favorite examples of the genre for years.
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Terrascape It is a game set in a hexadecimal based world where you are required to place medieval buildings on the best plot of land possible. For buildings that harvest resources, such as loggers or hunters’ dwellings, this means placing them close to as many trees or wild animals as possible, and for more advanced constructions this means placing them next to last buildings. The more perfect your location, based on the number of nearby resources and structures, the higher score you will get.
You can’t build anything though, this is a board game-like experience where you have to choose from decks based on major categories (fishing, village, farming, etc) and then you’re given a hand of cards, each with a card that can be played to bring down a building on the map. Starting with just a handful, over the course of the game you’ll unlock more cards for a deck, and then more decks with new buildings.
If this is starting to sound familiar, that’s because it is. Dorfromantik He did a lot of this. as he did Islanders. I loved those two games, and I do Terrascape For the same reasons, because it takes the essence of city building, breaks it down into the simplest way to implement it, and then makes the whole thing incredibly convenient.
There are goals, whether you’re playing the game’s specific challenge maps (which give you city-building improvement puzzles to complete) or the more fun sandbox mode (which just lets you lose goals and gives you extra points-scoring goals), but they didn’t feel rushed. It’s nice to look at, there are no time limits, the whole thing is incredibly cool, and you drop a little farm here, and oooh, look, the town square over there, it’s not pretty.
The way each hexa art flows into the next, and the little pop every time you place a building makes the whole experience very satisfying. I’ve spent the past week firing this up whenever I’ve hit a pause, and instead of trying to complete any goals or objectives, I’ve scrolled around the map drawing a city into existence, like Bob Ross from the 1400s. Bobby Ross.
If spending your entire time in a zen-like state doesn’t appeal to you, you can still practice this thing if you want (and you’ll need to complete some tougher/larger maps). The game’s scoring system builds up, rather than staying consistent, so if you drop a hunter’s hut early on and get a load of points from nearby wildlife, you won’t lose those points if you later build a medieval village on top of it all. . This makes each map a great exercise in forward planning, as you start thinking about trees, fish, and deer, before advancing through floors and having to change pace and start thinking of big houses and taverns instead.
Terrascape It’s still in early access on Steam, and it’s available now.
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