Townscaper might be about the simplest game I’ve ever played. It’s a game about building a town and the only buttons you have are to build and unbuild and select a colour. There’s no discernible aim to the game other than to make your town look nice. And that’s it. It’s mesmerising.
It helps that it’s gorgeous. You simply cannot build an ugly town. You cannot even build in a straight line. It’s as if the game adheres more to the warm, wobbly lines of your imagination than it does the cold angles of real life. Even if you try to build a square, the edges bow and warp.
What I love most is how you’re never sure what’s going to appear. I mean, broadly you know. You know if you build in the water that a kind of harbour block will appear, with nice red trim and fences for safety around the top, and you know if you build on top of it, a building will appear. But exactly what kind of building depends on what’s around it. Things clump together in Townscaper. Build a row of houses and they clump to make a terrace, build in a square(ish) pattern and they make a bigger kind of house. Build upwards to make a tower.