Video Games


A new type of city-building game which will make you feel like you've been administered a digital Valium


The latest offering from the Swedish game developer Oskar Stålberg might loosely be described as a city-building game. There are no missions to complete or resources to gather. There isn't even a menu of buildings to pick from. Instead, Townscaper players add one block at a time atop a placid sea and watch as the structures they're creating morph automatically into streets, homes, apartments, and towers. That barebones simplicity, objective-free gameplay, and calming setting will make you feel less like a city administrator and more like you've been administered a digital Valium.

It's hardly a thrilling experience. But there's still a lot of Zen fun to be had in seeing your individual mouse clicks snowball into city blocks or castle-like complexes. That organic, incremental growth makes Townscaper a refreshing change from other city simulators, which typically revolve around zoning vast tracts of land and laying down miles of infrastructure.

Less appealing is the game's lack of people to populate the player's creations. Their absence can make the game feel sterile after a while. In the era of coronavirus, when dead downtowns are depressingly common, it can even feel a little eerily familiar.

NEXT: How Britain Lost the Lockdown Battle

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21 responses to “Townscaper

  1. Sounds like a training resource for clueless progressive city (and humanity) planners. Imagine a lofty but undefined goal, push a button, and good stuff happens--just like in real life, right?

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  2. "Less appealing is the game's lack of people to populate the player's creations. Their absence can make the game feel sterile after a while."

    For what does it mean to be a King, without a host of subjects at one's disposal?

  3. Jesus H. Christ. Take off your ideological glasses for once. It’s a freegin’ video game and you still had to write something signaling to your fellow CACLLs and somehow insinuating Reason is anti freedom.

    1. HO2

      1. NACL

    2. It was a simple observation about human nature. I said nothing about Reason, or anyone else. But, if you need to pick a fight, I am all for it. I enjoy thrashing your little baby brain, and I think everybody else likes watching me do it, too.

      1. SPB2 likes thrashing other parts of little babies. Maybe they can share.

  4. I haven't bought this one (yet), but the gameplay looks relaxing and the graphics remind me of the children's books of my yute.

    Right now I get my Zen gaming from Libertarian Truck Simulator (American Truck Simulator with law enforcement disabled).

    1. Ever play Stellaris?

      1. Can't say that I have. Worth looking at?

        1. If you are into cosmology, biology, science fiction, and long-haul strategy gaming, then you should absolutely give it a shot. Basically, you start out as an "alien" civilization in one star system at a point in its evolution where the technology required for deep space exploration has just been discovered. The point is to expand out into the galaxy, set up shop in other star systems (each with unique resources and opportunities for technological advancement), colonize other habitable planets, all while confronting other alien civilizations (either with war or diplomacy) doing the exact same thing.

          Fair warning, however. It is a very addictive game. And, like most Steam games, you will probably shell about $150 bucks for all the add-ons and DLC's. But, in my opinion, it is completely worth it. Given the degree of variables and customization available, and the wide variety of different civilizations (each of which presents unique advantages and disadvantages during gameplay), this is probably as close to a never ending game as you can get. If you need to get lost for a while, this can easily help you do that for a hours, or days, at a time.

          1. And, yes -- before you ask -- they even have libertarian alien civilizations, which is a nice contrast to the typical imperialist/militarist ones. The hivemind/gestalt consciousness civilizations are also interesting to play with. The internal politics of each civilization adds another fascinating layer to the game.

            1. Thanks for the post! For some reason this game sounded familiar, and it turns out one of my steam buddies bought it for me a couple years ago. I'll give it a shot!

    2. Libertarian Truck Simulator = Saudi Truck Simulator . Not only is law enforcement disabled - so are traffic rules and drivers don't feel the sheepish urge to conform to traditions like driving on the right.

  5. Well, there goes my day.

  6. It's so weird when my niche non-politics interests collide with my politics interests on the pages of Reason.

    Neat game. Check out the subreddit for people's interesting creations.

  7. Strange to me how many thousands upon thousands of video games have been released, and only this tiny one merits a review. I can't remember the last time I saw a video game review on Reason, if ever.

    1. Well look at that, apparently video game reviews are sort of becoming a thing this year. I see Suderman has done a couple recently.

  8. Pandemic has worsened the situation only video games are keeping it real-like. We need
    latest gaming accessories in 2021 which make the gaming real fun to kill the boredom, loneliness and all type of crises. So get your gear loaded and let's become virtually immortal while playing townscraper....

    1. I thought GPT-3 had protections to prevent it from being used to create bots but here we are an actually coherent and on topic bot

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