For a decade now, the SteamWorld games have been carving out their own cute little niche, bringing charm, accessibility, and a quick pace to a variety of different genres. This has been going on for quite some time. Despite the fact that they have not yet made a mistake, this most recent addition is a gamble since it is the first SteamWorld game that was not produced by the original designers, Image & Form. Instead, The Station is in charge of the development project. How does it compare to the ones that came before it? Well, not exactly, but it doesn’t mean that its combination of city construction and subterranean excavation, similar to Dungeon Keeper, isn’t still a really enjoyable way to spend a weekend.

As a mild introduction, you will be tasked with constructing a frontier town filled with steampunk robots. This will be accomplished by placing attractive, chunky, small buildings and linking them with roads. It is an intentionally simplistic approach to city-building; much like the Anno series or The Settlers, there is a significant emphasis placed on the creation of supply chains that transform resources into other resources (and maybe then refine them even more into even more resources) in order to power your development.

Workers are required to operate a variety of different structures, some of which are houses. It is possible to meet the demands of your workers by constructing essential services in close proximity to them, such as a water supply and a general shop. This will result in maximum productivity from each individual house. As you reach “milestones” of population, new requirements become apparent; if you continue to fulfil these new requirements, it will not be long until it is feasible to transform workers who are completely satisfied into engineers, who are responsible for the placement of a wide variety of new structures. The engineers, on the other hand, demand their own special services in order to be satisfied, and all of a sudden, you have to create room for all of them as well. Once you have done so, you will be able to transform them into a form that is even more dependent on you, and so on.

This is just one example of how SteamWorld Build is continually adding new layers to the game, which is a pretty innovative approach to its genre. In addition to the fact that it means that additional complications are only introduced after you have completely acquired a handle on what is currently in front of you, it also offers what might be a stuffy form of game: a tremendous feeling of discovery and surprise. However, its most remarkable revelations take place under the surface.

You will be able to begin mining after your settlement is operational, at which point you will be able to transition to a new subterranean level that follows a completely different gameplay style. Here is where you will discover the influences that are associated with Dungeon Keeper. Your miners are going to dig through the blocks of rock that you have marked out for them to dig through in order to clear space and acquire resources. You do not construct structures in these freshly created tunnels; rather, you set room tiles. You designate distinct areas for certain tasks, and you gradually extend these zones as you dig further and deeper into your surroundings.

A symbiotic relationship exists between this subterranean layer and your overground community, despite the fact that it operates according to separate laws. Both layers collect resources that are required by the other, and you are able to move fluidly between them as you work to maintain a balance between them. When things grow sluggish on one layer, for example, when currency runs out in your town and you need to wait before you can construct anything new, it is the ideal opportunity to flip over to the other layer and do something completely different. This is due to the fact that it is a great method to infuse more diversity into a game that is quite easy.

Continue to construct and dig, and before too long, further subterranean levels will be exposed; each of these levels will have its own map, and they will all be operating concurrently. The presence of your presence is not welcome in these more profound worlds. The addition of monsters who wander and oppose your expansion, as well as waves of monsters that periodically overwhelm you, brings a new dimension of tower defence to the game.

Like in the game SteamWorld Build, the rooms are set out like mine because time equals money.

The amount of time it takes to generate the materials that are required is the primary factor that differentiates a mine that is operated efficiently from one that is run poorly.

There are a lot of things to keep track of by the time you reach the latter stages of SteamWorld Build, yet the game is never chaotic. Nothing could possibly go wrong to such a severe degree. It is possible that production in your town will be hampered if it is mismanaged, but it is not likely to collapse. Even monster assaults below ground will often just leave buildings and robots shattered and in need of repair rather than completely destroying them. You never truly need to rebuild after a crisis; instead, you merely have to wait a few minutes for it to automatically reassert itself. There is no danger of a game over taking place in the near future.

On the one hand, it is a wise decision in a game that wants you to be travelling between various areas. If you were always concerned about your mines whenever you went to reorganise your residential sector, you would never be able to concentrate on the task at hand. In addition, at a certain point, it becomes abundantly evident that time is the only thing that is at risk, which is an obvious consequence of the fact that there is very little pressure on you to do well. It can be difficult to shake the thought that instead of spending five minutes tweaking your digger’s route to the ore veins, you could just watch funny videos on your phone for fifteen minutes and end up with just as much metal. This means that the actual difference between a mine that is well-run and one that is disastrous is the amount of time it takes to produce the resources that you require.

Ultimately, the game is about attempting to make your small engine of a town as efficient as possible, much as the majority of city builders are. However, since there are no actual impediments in your path or other factions to compete against, the drive for efficiency is solely for its own sake. This does not constitute a deal-breaker; in the end, it is fundamentally more rewarding to generate +30 tools per minute than it is to make +5 tools per minute; nevertheless, it does leave the game somewhere on the wrong side of being too slow.

At the very least, you won’t be left with that sensation for an excessively lengthy period of time after playing SteamWorld Build since the whole experience is really rather brief. Although you are encouraged to replay the story on different maps in order to unlock new and powerful building types, there are not really enough changes that occur from run to run to make that an enticing offer. A complete run of the story, which is a fairly thin tale about building a giant rocket to escape the planet, only takes about five hours to complete.

A close-up image of a collection of structures in SteamWorld Build, one of which is an establishment that serves hamburgers.

I found that short run time to be rather refreshing; it is not often that one is able to just sit down with a city builder, experience all of the exciting things that it has to offer, and be able to reach a conclusion that is gratifying in just one weekend. There is a lot of entertaining content packed into that period of time, and in contrast to other instances of the genre, it does not seem like it is being stretched out or repetitive.

People come to city builders with the intention of wasting dozens or even hundreds of hours, whether they are constructing their ideal city in a big sandbox or going through a multi-scenario campaign. However, I can see that there may be a mismatch of expectations in this regard. This is something that SteamWorld Build does not provide, and it is probable that veterans of the genre will be dissatisfied with the amount of content that is available here.

If you are new to the genre, particularly if you are a younger player, this would be an excellent way to get started.

Assuming that it is what it is, SteamWorld Build is a lovely and very cool method to satisfy your need for a city builder in a short amount of time. It also has enough creative twists to make it stand out from other games. An individual who is new to the genre, particularly a younger player, would benefit greatly from the game’s accessibility and forgiving nature, making it an excellent choice for a first playthrough of the genre. In a genre that is filled with bigger hitters, however, it does seem extremely light, and there is no reason why this premise couldn’t have been extended further into a more significant experience.

Build does not fit as cleanly into the current series as it might, despite the fact that, as I said earlier, the SteamWorld games are characterised by their accessibility and their shortness. In spite of the fact that its fundamental genre mash-up notion is excellent, it does not seem as fresh and delightfully adventurous as the submissions that Image & Form has submitted. In addition, it does not fully correspond to their personality.

Even though the small animations of your bots moving about and making curiosities like sparkling oil wine and cactus water are enjoyable, the plot and characters seem like an afterthought, and the fact that you are positioned far above the action makes you feel as though you are not a part of their unique steampunk world. Build is the only SteamWorld game that I am unable to recommend without any reservations, despite the fact that it is a really enjoyable experience and, in some different ways, extremely intelligent.

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