I am constructing a ranch for robotic cows, to be used in creating burgers for a community of humanoid robots powered by steam. Although none of this is logical, it doesn’t matter. The games in this delightful robopunk series have consistently prioritized unique quirks over realism, making them even more enjoyable.
SteamWorld is known for switching up genres, as seen in the shift from space combat to fantasy RPG in previous games. The newest installment combines elements of city-building and dungeon-crawling. In the beginning, players must construct a steambot settlement in a desert reminiscent of the wild west, organizing production chains similar to The Settlers. For example, a forester produces logs that are then turned into boards at a lumber mill, which are then used to construct buildings.
The Workerbots require access to specific services in order to maintain their contentment: a general store, a repair shop, and a farm that supplies cactus water for their boilers. This unique aspect of SteamWorld is evident in the unconventional structures, which deviate from the typical city-building genre. For instance, your advancement may be hindered if the aristocratic Aristobots do not have an adequate supply of fashionable hats.
This feature is very forgiving and is meant to be user-friendly for beginners. The best part is the addition of a “move tool” which lets you easily move any building to a new location without any cost. As your city gets more crowded, it’s effortless to reorganize everything into a neater and more efficient layout.
The second part of SteamWorld Build is similar to the popular game Dungeon Keeper by Bullfrog. The goal is to dig underground in the city to find six rocket pieces, which can then be put together to help your robots escape from the doomed planet. In the mines, you can recruit bots to work as diggers, prospectors, and mechanics. They will dig tunnels and gather resources to create goods for the city above.
However, the excavators quickly come across hidden foes, requiring the recruitment of guards to protect the miners and installation of automated defenses. Playing the game will eventually follow a predictable pattern. Delays in excavation due to shortage of workers or resources will lead to a shift towards developing the city. At times, expansion of the city may be hindered by the need for a resource that can only be obtained by digging deeper into the mine, resulting in a return to lower levels.
If you have invested a lot of time into a game like Cities Skylines, then SteamWorld Build may seem too basic. There are no unexpected events to disrupt your progress, and there is no requirement to create complex infrastructures aside from constructing roads. The game is also relatively short, with a complete playthrough taking around 12 hours, depending on how much time is spent customizing your city. There are multiple maps to experiment with, and each one rewards you with a special building after completion, although there is not much variation between them.
However, the overall charm of this game is undeniable. The animations are of excellent quality, and observing the daily activities of your robotic citizens from a close-up view never becomes tiresome. With the move tool, perfection is always attainable for your city, allowing for endless modifications in the pursuit of optimal productivity. It’s effortless to lose track of time while attending to the needs of your steam-powered robots. After all, who else will ensure a steady supply of roboburgers for them?
SteamWorld Build will be available starting on December 1st for the price of £24.99.