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One of my favorite little games from the last few years is Townscaper. It’s a Steam Early Access sandbox where players can quickly and easily build a city in the sea. When I played Townscaper, it didn’t really have much of a traditional point. And yet I found it relaxing, and my kids enjoyed watching a village come together like magic. And now that magic is available on Nintendo Switch.
Townscaper is the realization of a key idea of game development — and that’s if the tools are cool, then building a world is often more fun than playing in that world. And Townscaper’s tools are very cool. The game uses procedural generation to stitch together buildings seamlessly regardless of what you choose to do with them. This means it can add bridges, walkways, doors, and windows as needed. This frees up the player to add and remove levels and sections without having to worry about pesky distractions like structural stability.
Developer Oskar Stålberg also built the tool to have a fun and visceral feeling. So if you plop buildings into the water or on top of one another, you get satisfying visual and audio feedback pings. It’s almost therapeutic, and I would consider it meditative.
And at $6, it’s the right price as a fun distraction and a palate cleanser between rounds of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
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