Block’hood is a lovely city-building simulation indie game with charming graphics and addictive gameplay.
Genre: City Builder, Puzzle, Strategy
Developer: Plethora-Project LLC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release date: 11 May, 2017
What is happening in the game:
In Block’hood, you have to build a town which satisfies the needs of all of its inhabitants. You have to find out what certain groups of people want and make sure you have everything needed to provide them with the goods they desire.
- Graphics | City builders aren’t usually minimalistic in design, so this aspect certainly makes Block’hood stand out in its genre. Luckily, shading is done the way it should be done, so the perception of the 3D space isn’t endangered because of the simple color palette. In some other games, it’s difficult to tell which element is in front of the other.
- Interesting Gameplay | Although the core of the gameplay is very similar to other city builders like Cities Skylines, the main difference is to be careful to have enough required resources on hand. Some other elements separate this game within the genre as well. Structures are built mostly vertically, which, surprisingly, makes a big difference. Also, this game is very clear about what you are doing wrong and what you should be doing to fix the issues. This is, in my opinion, is very good, since nothing is worse than having to find a huge issue in a giant city only to discover that one single block was causing the whole mess.
- Story Mode | When I started the game, I was quite surprised there was a story mode included. However, after playing some of it I can certainly say that the experience was very pleasant. The characters have surprising depth, the dialogue is funny and loveable and it also acts as a tutorial in some ways. It’s a shame that more similar games don’t have stories because it certainly seems like a good idea to me now! Block’hood certainly executed this part of the gameplay very well.
- Achievements | There are almost 40 achievements and they are all contributing to the fun factor of the game. Not only that, they give you an incentive to play the tutorial. The challenges you experience, such as trying out blocks you otherwise wouldn’t consider placing in your Hood, make this really good.
- Challenges | After you’re done with the story mode and you’re not yet quite ready to go full Sandbox mode, you can try out some challenges. There are about 20 of them, varying in difficulty. The easiest ones really are incredibly easy, while the intermediate and expert ones expect you to know a bit more about the game’s mechanics. Most of them require you to completely produce a certain quantity of a specific resource from scratch. The difficulty of the challenge depends on how many steps you have to follow before you are able to get the said resource.
- Tutorial | Many games contain a lot of diverse game mechanic and elements but rarely do they manage to explain to the player in detail how to use everything. Block’hood probably has one of the best tutorials I’ve ever seen. Just like the challenges, the tutorials are sorted in a few difficulty-based categories. Whenever you feel like you want to learn a bit more, you can simply start the next tutorial section and learn more about complex mechanics.
- Sandbox Mode | After you’re done with challenges and the story mode, you can test your imagination and your creativity with Sandbox mode. You can pick between Hood and World mode. The former gives you a limited area to build in while the former is much less limited and allows you to create bigger structures with more freedom.
- Sound | I really love the music in this game. It’s not catchy or anything, just a really nice addition to the intriguing gameplay. Playing games without sound is boring and whoever wrote the soundtrack did a very good job.
- Placing Buildings | When you try to place down some buildings, it’s not always clear where the indicator is showing one the map. This may cause you to misplace some structures until you get used to it. Most of the time, this can be solved by rotating the world, but it gets annoying if you’re trying to place a substantial amount of buildings in a short amount of time. Also, if you want to place something in a gap between a lot of filled slots, you may find it very difficult to fill the said gap.
- Lack of Movement | Although people and animals do move to some extent, it would be very nice if they were a bit more active. In Cities Skylines or Prison Architect, I sometimes spend tens of minutes following different characters, wondering where they are going. There is, sadly, no such thing in Block’hood.
The final verdict:
Overall, I think Block’hood is an innovative game with a lot of well-made content. It was recently released from Early Access and I think that it definitely deserves to be called a “full” game now. There are many modes to play, ensuring you will have hours and hours of fun with it. The graphics are really beautiful and the music that accompanies the game is done well. Although the game does have a few minor problems, those are in no way a deal breaker. If you love such games, definitely give this game a shot. I’m not sure if I fully agree with the current price tag, but if you see it on discount, I advise you to spend your money on it.