30/11/2023

Steamworld Build Xbox Review 8/10 "Over Steamulation?" πŸ› ️πŸͺ¨ @SteamWorldGames #iNDIEGAME #GAMEDEV

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Steamworld Build Xbox Review

I have dug. I have heisted. And I have loved both. Three of my favourite games on the PC in the last ten years were made by the Swedish studio, Image & Form. Steamworld Dig 1 & 2, and Steamworld Heist are both beautifully formed and have really well thought through game mechanics. It’s simplistic to say perhaps, but both Dig and Heist just work. There’s little extraneous in there, and these elements are combined with gorgeous visuals and engaging characters to make very appealing games that I’ve returned to many times.

And now the steampunk robots of Dig and Heist are back, in SteamWorld Build. For lovers of city builders like Sim City and the Steamworld games, this new instalment immediately draws you in. In fact, though there is a tutorial, if you’ve played world/city builders, then you will pick this up pretty quickly. You build houses for your people, places for them to work and places for them to play (or buy hats, as it turns out). Then you connect the places together. Simple.

Steamworld Build Xbox Review

Well yes, it would be if it finished there. But there are layers to this game. Literally. There is a plot, you see. A plot that requires your newly formed town to mine for a) resources and b) parts to make a spaceship. I won’t go into the plot more than this as it doesn’t impact on the game really. You just need to know that there’s a surface level resource management game and an underground resource management/tower defence game. For there be monsters that lurk in the depths. Bugs and wormlike creatures mainly, but big aggressive ones that require a bullet or a little flame-grilling to dissuade them from munching on your miners.

This warfare element links well with the resources because as you dig deeper to get rarer materials, you come into contact with ever more dangerous and numerous beasties.

Steamworld Build Xbox Review

As with the much-loved Dig and Heist games, the graphics are really eye-catching. The cartoony steampunk aesthetic is one of my favourites in PC gaming and is reminiscent of the Torchlight games as well. It makes the different buildings and characters stand out and brings fun to the city/world building genre.

I do have a couple of gripes however, and they are slightly affecting my enjoyment of the game. Firstly, I’m not convinced that the management side of the game is clear enough. I admit, this may be my failing, so I’m interested to see what other reviewers say, but I felt like while I had lots of data and graphs, making sense of what impacted on what wasn’t obvious. I was fine until I ran into money troubles, then I found I wasn’t sure how to fix it. I muddled my way through, and perhaps that’s the intention, but that made me feel a bit like there was more luck than judgement at times. 

Steamworld Build Xbox Review

The other issue, which is linked, relates to the graphical style. It is beautiful and detailed, but this does make for a cluttered look, particularly on the surface level once you have a bustling city up and running. I sometimes found it hard to identify my different buildings and factories easily as, unlike Sim City for example, there aren’t different overlays/viewing modes to simplify what you’re looking at.

As a huge fan of the previous Steamworld games, I feel, so far, that Build doesn’t quite hit the same dizzy heights or its predecessors. It’s rich and detailed, engaging and nice to look at, but the additional complexity means that there are times when navigating is not as simple as it perhaps should be and I worry that as the game gets harder, this may have more of an impact.

Overall, I am really enjoying the game though. It may have required a little guesswork or extra head scratching on a few occasions where the required actions weren’t clear, but I have successfully steered my steambot community to what appears to be around halfway through the game and am having fun with the interaction of the world builder and tower defence elements, even if the on-screen action can get a bit busy.

Steamworld Build Xbox Review

SUMMARY

Perhaps not one for the city builder purists, but for everyone else who likes resource management with some warfare thrown in, this is well worth your pennies and the Steamworld series continues to set a high bar for beautiful, enjoyable games with solid game mechanics.

Steamworld Build Xbox Review

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