The highly-stylised community architecture management project, Block’hood [official site], is moving out of early access on 11 May and plopping its futuristic boxes into the spacious environs of full release. In case you’ve missed previous articles, Block’hood is the creation of architect and game designer Jose Sanchez. It sits within the city-planning and urban ecology genre. Well, I say city-planning but the game’s emphasis is smaller in scale than that would suggest. Its high-rises remind me of articles on Wired or Inhabitat about sustainable living projects or futures involving vertical farming.
The full version of the game will have a five-chapter story mode which functions as a tutorial as well as the main sandbox mode, challenge mode, and education mode. The devs also state their intention to make modding tools for the game once it’s out.
Rob Zacny gave it a go when it was still living in early access-ville and noted:
“In terms of how this feels, it’s very much like the Anno series. Low-level buildings generate basic resources that power other low-level buildings that produce more advanced byproducts that can fuel more advanced buildings. It’s a delicate balancing act as you attempt to keep your little eyrie working smoothly without running into crippling shortages or runaway surpluses.”
It sounds like when he played it (around this time last year on build 1047806) there was definitely work to be done on how the balancing act plays out in later phases of a neighbourhood’s lifespan. That was a year ago, though so I’m not sure how that rebalancing has come on as the early access process made its way towards release.
The summary sounds like it would still support the basic thrust and unique elements of the game though:
“At a time when cities around the world are starting to plan for climate change and a low-emissions future, and housing shortages are chronic throughout most growing cities, Block’hood seems uniquely relevant. More importantly, it achieves this relevance without coming across as dry, or pedantic. Whether it’s actually a good representation of futuristic urban planning is a question for engineers and architects. At the very least, Block’hood is having fun while raising issues that few city-builders ever seriously address.”
N.B. The switch from work-in-progress to full game brings a bump to the price. It’s been set at £6.99/$9.99/€9.99 as an early access title and that tag will go up to £10.99/$14.99/€14.99 after launch.