This citybuilding puzzle game is Threes meets Dorfromantik, and I'm extremely here for it
Urbo is a soothing, sliding settlement game
I don't mean to alarm anyone, but I think Urbo might be my Dorfromantik of 2023. It's a chill, citybuilding puzzle game from the devs behind the altogether more violent Diplomacy Is Not An Option, and it's all about building tiny little villages on top of rocky outcrops. Except when you stick three of the same building type together, they all zhuup together to create an even bigger one. And a bigger one, and a bigger one. It's very satisfying. The smooshing lights up all the same parts of my brain that Threes did when I became obsessed with it about five years ago, while the tile planning hits scratches that big Dorfromantik itch, making for an excellent Steam Next Fest demo experience.
There's only one level type available in Urbo's Next Fest demo at the moment - a very mellow desert stage - but from the looks of its Steam page, there will be other biomes available, including grassy river cliffs, when it launches sometime between April and June later this year. The level is split between three different rocky stacks of increasing tile size, and you'll only move on to the next one once you've run out of room on the one you're working on.
It can be played as a pure puzzle experience, just going with the flow of the types of buildings you get dealt on the lower side of the screen, but you can also take a more crafted approach by using the build option to remove, relocate or pop in specific types of building using crystals you've earned from zhushing lots of houses together. There's also an undo button, thank goodness, in case you mis-click.
Honestly, though, just look at this thing in action. An absolutely beautiful thing you definitely need to experience for yourself right away.
In the full game, developers Door 407 say they're going to be adding more house sets to pretty up your villages and make them more distinct, as well as more options and systems that will affect your buildings, population size and the number of bonus points you earn with all the szhush-szhushing of your houses. It's also supported on Steam Deck.
The devs also say there's "no ultimate goal in Urbo", and that you're mainly building for the sake of building. But that's fine by me. I didn't need an ultimate goal during the many hours I spent playing Dorfromantik over the last couple of years (except those glorious high score leaderboards spurring me on), and I can see Urbo filling the same need in my life for just a chill, soothing village-builder where I can zhsuup and szhuuuh all the live long day. Download that Steam Next Fest demo now, before it's gone.