When you think city building games, you usually think of games like Sim City or Cities: Skyline. While those games are very good, they can be very intimidating for new players, mainly due to the complexity of it all. These are full-on management games that require a lot of time, resources, and planning, and not everyone wants to invest in that kind of level of thought into it. Some people just want to build and play something that makes it very easy to build a city or town without all the extra baggage. That’s where a game like Townscaper comes in. Developed by Oskar Stålberg and published by Raw Fury, Townscaper is a town-building toy where you can just build something beautiful, without having to worry about all the extras.
The easiest way to describe Townscaper is to compare it to something like Minecraft. Instead of having blocks that you need to use to build actual buildings with, each block here represents a much larger section. For instance, the starting block is always the base, which looks like a paved island. You can attach other blocks to this to either extend the base out in all directions or if you build upwards, it becomes a small building. The building can be made higher with additional blocks or you can expand the building outwards. The game forms the building for you though, so it’ll add its own roof, doors, windows, etc. You just have to worry about how the building is shaped.
If you watch the trailer above, you get an idea of just how simple and easy the gameplay is. You can use either the controls are play via touch. Both are simple to master so it’s basically whatever you feel comfortable with. And like I stated above, building creation is basically attaching colored blocks to each other and the game basically handles the rest of the design choices.
Aside from building, you can also adjust things like the angle of the sun, whether it’s day or night, and whether or not the buildings and the environment are rendered in either simple form, with lighting effects, or with no textures and colors. You can also take screenshots of your creations as well. You can also save each of your creations so you can always work on them later as well.
In terms of art style, Townscaper is a very beautiful game. You’re basically building on a blank canvas where the starting point is like a calm lake. The buildings seem like they’re based on rustic Italian styles similar to what you’d see in an actual Italian coastal town such as the Cinque Terre in Italy.
I like that you can zoom in and out of your creation and see so much detail in the buildings. The places where your creation touches the water ripple like they would in real life. There are birds flying around that also land on the roofs of your creations. It all looks just so serene and peaceful. The only thing I wish they’d include would be some people just walking around or going about their daily routine. It would make these towns that are created look a bit more lively.
Other than that, Townscaper is just such a relaxing experience. There’s literally no stress involved and you can just build to your heart’s content. You can build a tiny island town or giant monstrosity. The choice is yours. On the PC version of this game, the borders for your town seem much larger than they are on the Nintendo Switch version. You can literally build a gigantic town, not only in length and width but also in height.
The PC version however doesn’t look that much different from any of the other versions. The only real difference I can see is the performance where the PC version is much smoother and doesn’t lag or frame skip when there’s too much on the screen. I know the Nintendo version would sometimes slow down quite a bit if there was too much on screen.
So is Townscaper worth a purchase? Very much so. This is a very good building game, or as the creator likes to call it, a town-building toy. For the most part, Townscaper really isn’t a traditional game, and it really is like a means of creating an art piece. I love how everything just snaps into place and how the game automatically just decides all the design elements for you. That means all you need to worry about is placement, and the end result is something beautiful and yours.
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