Uniting Nintendo Communities since 2013

Community Article: Indie Insights - Townscraper

Written by John Edwards

This is not a game.

There are no goals. No fail state. No enemies. No quests. You won't get a reward for building fifty towers, you're not going to unlock alternate skins. Instead, you have a calm, flat ocean and pop pop pop of buildings appearing.

Townscaper is a toy more than anything. A tactile sandbox of creation. There is immediacy to your building. There's no faffing around lining up walls and placing benches, you shape the general structure and Townscaper dots it with features.

There's a grid to see where you can place foundations, but there's no rigid American adherence to the cardinal points in creating these towns. The squares are warped and twisted, curving instead of maintaining right angles. Your creations feel wholly European in their layouts. Streets and structures bending to the past, sculpted by time and history, winding around obstacles long since gone, their absence marked by the negative space left behind.

Pick a colour, pick a space, build high, build wide. Making new buildings or removing old ones is swift and satisfying. Initial plans will give way to new ideas as Townscaper drops in a bench or a washing line and your mind races to imagine the people who might be living there. Birds settle on roofs but destroy that building and they scatter, whirling through the sky until they find somewhere else to land and call home. There is a feeling these are real places and you've just caught a time where no people are around.

You can tinker with the display, flat colours or a white architect's model. Move the sun around to see your town bathed in the fleeting light of sunset, watch for windows lighting up in the night. Townscaper ensures whatever you make ends up looking gorgeous regardless of how haphazard your creation is.

Townscaper is a beguiling toy/game. It is a tranquil experience, an island of peace among an ocean of frenetic games. It is ideal to drop in and out of for a burst of creativity, a digital equivalent of mindfulness colouring books. It's Lego without the instructions, a satisfying and slightly unpredictable generator or worlds. It may not be a game but it is worth playing.