Socratic Gaming: SteamWorld Build

An Enjoyable City Builder With Some Quirky Gimmicks

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this product from the developer

SteamWorld: Build presents itself as an intriguing addition, albeit one that takes a different route from what many fans of the SteamWorld series might expect. As both a fan of every SteamWorld entry and someone who has spent hundreds of hours in both Cities, Skylines, and Frostpunk, I was extremely excited about this entry.

SteamWorld: Build's approach to city building is markedly different from the strategic depth and gradual progression that characterizes games like Cities: Skylines and Frostpunk. Rather than easing players into its world with a few basic elements and then slowly introducing complexity, SteamWorld: Build offers an abundance of building options and resources right from the start. This stark contrast to the methodical, layer-by-layer development found in Cities: Skylines or the rigorous resource management of Frostpunk can be overwhelming. For players who enjoy the satisfaction of meticulously planning and executing city layouts, this game’s rapid introduction of numerous elements might feel disorganized.

The game also takes a more straightforward path in terms of resource management. Unlike Frostpunk, where balancing your city’s resources against harsh environmental challenges is crucial, SteamWorld: Build opts for a more relaxed approach. This simplicity, while making the game more accessible to a wider audience, also reduces the strategic challenge that can make city-building games so compelling. This aspect, combined with the game's relatively short length, featuring only five stages, might leave players longing for the depth and expansiveness offered by other titles in the genre.

Visually, SteamWorld: Build stays true to the distinctive steampunk style of the series, yet it sometimes struggles with clarity in distinguishing between various game elements. This is a notable shift from the clear and intuitive interface that fans have come to expect from the SteamWorld games and can affect the overall gameplay experience.

Despite these points, SteamWorld: Build does introduce a unique take on city building. It’s suited for players looking for a less demanding, more casual approach to the genre. The departure from the complex mechanics typical of city builders like Cities: Skylines or survival elements of Frostpunk is evident, offering a fresh perspective. However, its brevity and the somewhat superficial introduction of game elements may not fully satisfy those seeking a more traditional, in-depth city-building experience.

In summary, while SteamWorld: Build is a visually appealing and interesting addition to the SteamWorld universe, it might fall short of the expectations set by its predecessors and other established titles in the city-building genre. The game experiments with a new direction, and while it doesn’t entirely capture the depth and engagement of previous SteamWorld games or the intricacies of city builders like Cities: Skylines and Frostpunk, it offers a different kind of enjoyment for those who prefer a more relaxed approach to city-building.

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