The name SteamWorld is well known to the general public and offers a plethora of diverse adventures across various game genres, from platforms and turn-based games to card games and now, as a city builder. Clearly creating a Multiverse of experiences that will certainly please a wide range of people who are fascinated by the world of video games.
The expansive universe of SteamWorld is characterized by its captivating Steampunk ambiance and robot-centric narratives. Build, of course, also drinks from the same source and ventures into uncharted territories, with the idea to explore a seemingly deserted land devoid of inhabitants and infrastructure.
Well, the idea of exploring the universe, yes the same Universe that we have when looking at our sky, is an idea that also resonates deeply with Jack Clutchsprocket, the father, and his daughter Astrid, the characters in charge of building the city. Their intrigue is piqued by the pursuit of understanding the buried “Ancient Technology” within their surroundings, believed to grant the power necessary to construct a rocket for interstellar exploration. All this information is given by a very peculiar character, Core. Of course he couldn’t be other thing other then a robot, or this wasn’t a SteamWord game, with a very expressive eye that apparently lost its powers. Thus begins a three-way partnership with the aim of building a promising future.
The player is tasked with choosing one of five different maps and getting to work on building a metropolis literally around a train station. This station serves as a resource exchange point, an interesting mechanic for obtaining the most scarce resources at certain times. There will be different buildings and small graphic details . While these architectural nuances don’t directly impact the inhabitants’ lives, they contribute to creating a more inviting cityscape. The population comprises four distinct classes—workers, engineers, aristobots, and scientists—each with unique needs that are met by unlocking essential buildings catering to their requirements.
As the city expands, the quest for resources intensifies, urging exploration of mines across three different levels, each with a different biome and materials. Exploring the mines was the point that took me the most time. My loot goblin brain was super happy by the gratifying experience of unveiling hidden treasures on the map.
However, the journey isn’t solely exploratory, as it is also necessary to defend the mines and all built equipment from enemy attacks. These adversaries lurk within the mines and are alerted if a wall close to their tile is destroyed, as well as at periodic moments, with waves of enemies coming from their “nests”. That way is necessary a strategic planning. To create a robot, out of the 4 different possible groups, requires placing a base of up to 9 tiles. This base can be expanded with the consequent possibility of obtaining more units of that type of robot. Each group of robots serves distinct purposes. The yellow color is intended for units capable of mining the walls, the blue ones, responsible for distributing materials from one point to another, the green ones, the support units responsible for building all platforms and machines, as well as rebuilding all defense units killed in combat, and finally the reds, who will be the front line in the fight against the enemies.
SteamWorld Build embodies an arcade-style city-building experience. I don’t say this in a pejorative sense. It’s easy to get into this circle, unlike other titles of the genre that may demand intricate infrastructure that requires a lot of resources or intricate decision-making that lead to different ramifications of the entire population. It’s linear, straightforward, and yet offers challenges, especially when the confronts against the enemies escalates in later stages of city development.
While the Nintendo Switch controls might hold a slight learning curve, the game itself provides on-screen shortcuts to ease navigation. Unfortunately, the touch mechanics are absent, which would have simplified the process, as if it were a simple click on the mouse button. Nonetheless, while the computer remains my preferred platform for playing SteamWorld Build, I’m sure that the game will find a cozy space for many on their portable Nintendo consoles, perhaps even during a train travel, or maybe on a spaceship?
After approximately 11 hours of gameplay, I witnessed the completion of my city and the availability of the rocket for an exciting journey “To infinity and beyond!”. As I previously mentioned, there are five different maps that, upon accomplishment, offers the player with enhancements or buffs, if you will, for future adventures, like increased train speed or more efficient miners. This is where its replayability lies, leaving the decision to build a new city in different environments and/or difficulties completely up to the player, as the story will always remain the same.