In the ever-expanding realm of addicting city-building simulations, a new contender is stepping onto the stage, but the steampunk aesthetics should look relatively familiar. SteamWorld Build, based on the SteamWorld franchise that has been digging away on our PCs and consoles for the past decade, is a city simulator that marries the charm of steampunk with the strategy of intricate city planning and resource management.
SteamWorld Build is set against a backdrop of Old West landscapes. Steambots are your citizens that will help build the town, gather resources, and work towards the ultimate goal of getting off this planet. There are some light story elements as to why you are doing what you are doing, but I won’t spoil what’s there for you. Suffice to say, there is an end goal to building up your town and exploring the depths underneath it, all while balancing your checkbook and resources.
As with any city builder, you start off on a blank plot of land, working to build out a small town that is self-sustainable. Progression comes with upgrading workers and building new facilities to refine new materials gathered underneath in the mines. Your upgraded workers also become more demanding as you find new resources and unlock milestones, so pay attention to their needs in order to maximize their work capacity. Trade is also possible, so you can sell off excess resources for cash or for other resources you might be short on.
The city builder part of SteamWorld Build never gets overly complicated, which makes this a relatively accessible game in the genre. You also aren’t contending with seasons or environmental hazards you might in other city builder games, which makes this a more chill game to play. You won’t ever feel like your city is on the verge of collapse (and that will only happen in the mines if you don’t put up support beams!).
Exploring and gathering resources in the mines is a nice change of pace to the gameplay. Once your city is running efficiently, I envision most of your time will be spent spelunking in the mines, looking for valuable resources and rocket parts to build your eventual escape from the planet. Your workers will need their respective quarters scattered throughout each layer of the mine in order for them to work on their assigned tasks. These are all simple, straightforward needs that are easy implement, but you might want to give some thought on the location of each of their respective working quarters. While you can have some basic workers hack away with a pickaxe, you can eventually unlock different workers with upgraded abilities get at more valuable resources.
In the end, I made it down to just the third layer of the map. It was fun uncovering new locations in the mines and it can become easy to forget/neglect the town above once you start finding your stride in the depths. Definitely check in on the surface level from time to time to make sure everyone is happy and working efficiently so you can continue digging around underneath.
SteamWorld Build scratches the itch of a city builder and shines in the spelunking and resource management aspects. If you are looking for an accessible and fun, laid back experience, I believe SteamWorld Build is a game to check out. If you are looking for a difficult and complicated city builder/resource management game, you may want to look elsewhere.
This preview is based on an early access copy of the game provided by the publisher.