Games can be tiring, especially when it comes to action-based, violent games. At times, all that you need to do is crash and play something peaceful that could calm your mind. If such is the case, then Balancing Monkey has got you covered with their most recent release, Before We Leave.
Where did it all begin?
Before We Leave is just another city building game in store, only better. Not that the storyline of a city building game matters that much, but the game is based on some underground sims, known as peeps, who have stayed away from the surface for so long that they have forgotten what the world feels like. Luckily, their resurfacing coincides with your purchase of the game and you can help build their civilization again. All they know is how to grow potatoes!
Anyways, a little off track, but how can someone call the main race of the game peeps? I wonder how it really went down at the studio when the developers sat down to brainstorm ideas regarding the names that they could give to these miniature characters and came up with peeps.
So far, the transition of peeps from underground to the surface feels smooth enough. But some reasons forced the peeps to move underground, and now that they are back, they don’t know a thing about survival and they are bound to repeat the old mistakes that led them to move underground earlier.
Getting Your House in Order
The game features a typical city-building gameplay. You will need to collect resources and then utilize these resources to build something, and that something would produce another resource which is how you’ll eventually end up building a civilization. For an example, to gather wood, you will need to send some peeps with an axe to hunt for trees. Once you have gathered sufficient wood, you can use it to build mines. Those mines would in return produce stone. Stone is then needed to build an iron smelter which then produces iron. As the list grows long, keeping track of resources becomes more difficult, but this all the game requires of you: to keep a check and maintain a balance of the resources you have at hand. To make it easier for you to manage the resources, you are blessed with an opportunity to trade between neighboring cities to send out the unwanted resources and bring in useful resources. There are chances that you mind need ships and spaceships at times to go on with the task of trading. Was that spaceships that you just read? Well, yes you did!
Into space, we go
As the game begins you will have to start a civilization, and what is a civilization that doesn’t grow? Once the civilization grows and shapes into several cities, you will see the initial planet covering up with all the peeps and their infrastructure. Next, the game will take you for a little ride in outer space and you will find yourself building civilizations on extraterrestrial planets. It does remind of No Man’s Land, not because of the similar gameplay experience, but because of the fact that No Man’s Sky’s space exploration used to become predictable after you had explored a few planets. You will find this to be quite similar when it comes to Before We Leave.
However, gathering resources is not the basic purpose of the game. In the end, it all comes down to keeping your peeps happy. If they are happy, they will work more efficiently, otherwise, well you are smart enough to figure that out on your own. You can check the happiness of the peeps by zooming into the city and clicking on an individual. It may sound like the easiest job on the planet to keep the peeps happy, but trust me, it is the most difficult aspect of the game. Peeps will inform you that they are not happy with the way things are going around, but they won’t tell you exactly what’s bothering them. Next, you will find yourself busting your head open while trying to find the reason behind your peeps’ unhappiness since they aren’t working for you, you are working for them. It’s their civilization you are building, right? Bow down to the peeps!
Hol’ Up, Is that a Whale?
Oh boy! I thought this is as peaceful a game could get, but we still get villains. But, don’t worry, fighting off these villains is extremely effortless. You will know the whales have arrived when the soundtrack of the game changes and you start hearing weird whale sounds, that sometimes resemble those of actual whales, otherwise they are just noises. To get rid of the threat, you will need to go far enough through the tech tree.
City-building games are not a new addition in the gaming community. I remember playing Age of Empires growing up, and Before We Leave shares a lot of aspects with the game. Mining stone, gathering wood, they all are carried on to this game from the millennial games. Though taking the game to a new planet is something different, but that too is not without its drawbacks, and the concept needs to be perfected in the upcoming updates.
Talking of the whales that appear in outer space, well I get it that the developers were trying to make the game a little more challenging, but this way the game keeps meandering between reality and fantasy. There are several realistic features to the game and at the same time, there are features that we don’t usually see in the real world. This takes away the solidity of the game. It would have been better if they added some real problems to the game such as the food crop being destroyed by the locusts or some pandemic spreading across the peeps, causing them to get ill, or perhaps even die.
With this, we move on to another loophole in the game. The peeps are immortal, and the population never stops growing. It could have been an interesting challenge to maintain a decreasing population of the world by providing better health care facilities. But that won’t be happening, and you’re basically stuck with an ever-growing population of peeps. How can we ignore the fact that the peeps will slow down work once they are unhappy, but they won’t die? This creates a never-ending loop of producing resources to satisfy the peeps, and yet waiting for the lazy peeps to produce the resource. It becomes extremely irritating after a while.
We have come a long way from the old city building games in terms of gameplay, soundtracks, and graphics. However, the thing that still bugs me is that we cannot place the buildings freely. There always is a defined boundary for each building and nothing else could be placed inside of it. It’s like spreading the city over a grid and in the case of Before We Leave, the grid is in the form of hexagons.
Other than the few drawbacks that the game has, it is a pretty nifty game. Considering the fact that it is an indie game, the developers still did a pretty good job. The game cannot be played for a very long time before getting bored because of a lack of challenges, but then again what else were you expecting for $9.
Before We Leave, get yourself a cup of coffee, make yourself comfortable, and get building.