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Stripped-down city builder Mini Settlers has a free prologue demo that seems perfect for Steam Deck

Chip off the new block

A screenshot of a bustling city of coloured squares in Mini Settlers
Image credit: Goblinz Publishing

The high-fidelity rustic hurly-burly of Manor Lords is all very well, but some of us yearn for a simpler and perhaps, more elegant age, when city builders looked like a bunch of copulating squares, and could run on PCs with approximately the computing power of a slice of bread (toasted, but not buttered). Step forward Mini Settlers, which has a free prologue version you might try if you're weary of Manor Lording, or you've already exhausted the play possibilities of early access Franconia.

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Mini Settlers is so minimalist the development roadmap looks like a screenshot - it may even have been built in-game. It's a game about colonising 2D grid-based islands, stringing together structures such as factories and city blocks with roads and the like to grow your population. The presentation is a soothing burble of primary colours and big rounded icons: I haven't played much, but it doesn't feel like a sim where you'll spend hours trying to work out what's clogging up your steel production. It's also "fully playable" on Steam Deck with a proper controller layout.

The new prologue version piles a bunch of new features and bugfixes on top of an earlier demo. There's a proper tutorial and "Handy Handbook" with tips, a new way of laying out roads, new resources and building types, and some new icons together with various quality of life adjustments. All quarries and mines now contain infinite resources, which sounds like it'll make the game a lot easier, and cities with different levels are now shown in different colours. The full changelog is here.

The full version of Mini Settlers launches this year. The developers Knight Owl Games are also the creators of Hive And Seek, a side-scrolling base-builder about de-infesting space stations, and Run Build Pew!, a top-down roguelite shooter in which you build your spaceship on the fly, which reminds me a bit of Captain Forever.

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