Urban appears more ambitious at first glance (and for most of its tutorial) than this! It’s a city-building game, but you also have to plan farms, clear forests, mine for coal, and build factories. While this may sound like a lot to worry about on top of worrying about the usual things like building houses and roads, it turns out that the experience is much more laid back.

Because although while Urbek promotes itself as a city-builder of fair complexity, it is actually more of a straightforward puzzle game that requires you to solve certain straightforward problems, including properly spacing outbuildings and constructing a particular number of them. Because this is a game that is driven by resources rather than money, if you can fulfill those fundamental requirements, everything else you get to do is just pure sandbox enjoyment.

When I initially started the game, I was curious as to what the deal was with its use of voxels because it looked like a strange choice for an aesthetic style for a genre that is typically more at home with cartoonish depictions of the real world. That question is quickly answered by playing it, as the key feature of Urbek is that you not only get to build a city but also get to watch it develop in front of your eyes as your buildings change and expand in response to their surroundings.

A house that is put down at the beginning of the game is essentially a log cabin. It can be improved manually to become a beautiful home. If you construct several of them, you have a villa. A condo becomes a park in the center of a couple of additional buildings.

Although I’m aware that most city-builders have some degree of malleability, Urbek’s is so much more pronounced and obvious that it’s amazing. You have Something that has the potential to let you get extremely expressive and creative with your builds, which is really all a lot of people are looking for in this genre in the first place. Add to that the fact that the game is able to slightly customize its look depending on the buildings and their surroundings—so houses near the water will look completely different from those near a coal mine in a forest—and you’ve got Something.

Other fascinating elements include the ability to choose a “biome” to develop your city in, which presents unique problems based on the environment, and the fact that success isn’t always inevitable because some upgrades and unlocks demand moral choices you might not want to make.

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