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Townscaper review - a tincture of pure tranquillity

Townscaper serves up a gorgeous, illustrative art style, serene sound design, and a simple concept that’s sure to put you at ease

A shot of a Townscaper town

Our Verdict

A tranquil, minimalist town-builder with a beautiful, illustrative art style and serene sound design. Townscaper is a perfect game to unwind with and achieves exactly what it sets out to do.

After being in early access for a while, the toy-like town-builder Townscaper gathered a lot of attention, earning itself a firm spot on my radar. After shadow dropping to Switch during the Gamescom Awesome Indie Showcase, I knew I finally had to try it.

Townscaper is an extremely simple but satisfying experience. I am a pretty anxious person, and I found the game to be a great relaxation tool, perfect for calming myself down when I would otherwise be chewing my nails and pacing the room. It’s entirely built around soothing, tranquil vibes, with no story, nothing to unlock, and no grinding or levelling up – your goal is simply to build something beautiful.

While this minimalist gameplay may not appeal to everyone, it definitely has its place in the industry. The satisfaction of plopping down colourful building blocks in a serene ocean and allowing the algorithm to effortlessly link them together is strangely comforting, and the unique scenes and art style have a dreamlike, nostalgic feel that left me completely at peace.

One of the biggest draws to the game is the lack of restrictions. The sandbox is totally yours to play with, and with a gorgeous, muted palette of colours and an illustrative art style, it’s lovely to explore and experiment with block placement, learning patterns to create the designs you want. As an artistically inclined individual, who often doesn’t make time for creativity, this is a wonderful way of playing freely with no cause or consequence. I quickly found myself forming little seaside towns threaded with vast, sprawling canal networks, and tall apartment complexes dotted with balcony gardens and verandas.

The building screen in Townscaper showing the ui

The controls are intuitive and easy to pick up, and the ability to go back to buildings and maps you’ve previously created to delete or add blocks further emphasises the lack of pressure on the player. I loved switching between towns, mixing things up, and watching my town grow and come to life – it’s easy to imagine the little characters who could occupy the buildings, and what types of lives they would lead.

If you like the sound of this little gem, it’s a very reasonable price. At only $5.99/£4.79 on Switch, it’s been worth every penny for me, and I’ve found myself using it to unwind before bed every night since I picked it up. It’s also coming to mobile later this year, which I am very excited about, though I feel it fits perfectly in my Switch library.

A close up screenshot of several buildings in Townscaper

Townscaper is an aesthetically pleasing and cohesive town-builder that radiates a sense of peace and tranquillity throughout, and I can tell I’ll be spending plenty of time expanding my own little ocean-side world in the future.