Townscaper Verdict: Uninstalling
I don’t regret spending an hour and change in the game, but it’s probably something I wouldn’t play again. It’s a neat little experience if you have an open mind and are looking for something really relaxing – it’s worth the download.
What Kind of Game is Townscaper?
Well, it’s not really a game. It says so right there in the description: “No goal. No real gameplay.”
What Games are Like Townscaper?
The closest thing I can think of is Islanders, if Islanders didn’t have any gameplay or its minimal strategic elements. Apparently it’s like Dorf Romantik, but I haven’t played that yet.
Who Would Enjoy Townscaper?
That friend/wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/dog/chinchilla you know who doesn’t play video games, but you really want them to try video games? Them, maybe. Achievement hunters. Those looking for something really chill and like to see neat things happen when they click their mouse. People who like to plan and build things without having to worry about actual gameplay mechanics that can mess them up.
Who Wouldn’t Enjoy Townscaper?
Anyone looking for actual gameplay or strategic elements. Townscaper is a pretty unique game in that, well, it’s not really much of a game?
Townscaper isn’t really much of a game, but it’s a pretty chill experience and it’s on Xbox Game Pass
Townscaper (not so) Two-Hour Review:
Truth be told, I didn’t even manage to spend two hours in Townscaper before I felt like I saw everything it had to offer. I went into this playthrough completely blind, knowing absolutely nothing about it other than the one or two articles I’ve quickly glossed over since it was originally released. I’m a big fan of city-building games like SimCity, Frostpunk, etc. so I was hoping for something similar.
Initially, I was surprised by its complete lack of a tutorial and when I slowly realized that the game had absolutely no objectives whatsoever, I was a little confused, but interested. I decided to figure out the limits of the game and how it worked underneath the hood, building as high up as I could before deciding to try to slowly fill in every single block of the map. At some point I realized that the game itself placed an overall limitation on the number of blocks you can have, as reducing the mega-giant tower I had built allowed me to expand my map outward.
The game’s UI is pretty intuitive, albeit basic. While placing blocks all over the map with no real thought, I unlocked some random achievements along the way. Even though the game’s description says there is no goal and no real gameplay, one could argue that Townscaper is a bit of a puzzle game trying to figure out how to unlock all the achievements. Different combinations of blocks will net you achievements like “Built a garden” or “Built a church door” or “Built a lighthouse”. In other words, it seems like you can build unique structures, the game just doesn’t explain to you how. So yeah, it’s like a puzzle game in a way.
Noticeably missing from Townscaper is background music, and I felt the game really could have benefited from some chill lo-fi tracks that would fit the game’s relaxing theme. It does look like the developer of the game, Oskar Stålberg, addressed this in a tweet in 2020. And having some random people walking around would have been nice, giving some life to the environment.
Overall, the description of Townscaper being akin to a toy is pretty fitting. I can understand the appeal for some to spend dozens of hours in the game, building something they’re truly proud to show off. It’s therapeutic in a way and it’s really the ideal game to be on Xbox Game Pass. But even at its $5.99 price tag, you can’t complain.