Block'Hood Builds the Circle of Urban Life

Block'Hood Builds the Circle of Urban Life

Build upward, young one!

Block'Hood is a simulation that wants players to think locally. Instead of focusing on building an entire city, Block'Hood is all about building a neighborhood. Your build area is rather small in comparision to many city-builders because you're encouraged to build upward rather than outward.

This leads to the interesting configurations you see in the screenshots and videos. Farms stacked on top of apartments, stacked on malls, on and on skyward. There's a certain degree of planning that goes into this, as only specific structures can be stacked. As your sessions progress, your structures will begin to twist and turn into the sky, a mix of living space, agriculture, commerce, and manufacturing. There's over 90 blocks available for building, so there are a number of options available to you.

This is all a visual hook to the real point of the game, which is getting to players to think about a virtual ecology. Every single block in the game consumes and produces resources. Trees require water and produce fresh air and leisure. Apartments require electricity, but produce people and grey water, which needs to be cleaned. Shops need people and electricity, but produce money. You can't place anything down - with the exception of walkways - that doesn't have a cost and benefit involved.

When you start up Block'Hood's tutorial and challenge levels, the amount of resources you have to juggle is relatively small. I dealt with Money, Water, Leisure, Fresh Air, Electricity, and Laborers in one of my early games. As you get farther and have more complex blocks, you'll have to juggle a larger number of resources at one time. And if blocks don't get the resources they need, they slowly decay and crumble away.

You also have to watch for synergy, where blocks provide bonuses to adjacent blocks of the correct type. Putting multiple trees together improves their fresh air production, while placing a small tree near an apartment brings joy to the laborers that will eventually live there. It's not just a matter of having the right blocks; sometimes, you need to have them in the right spots.

To track everything, Block'Hood has a number of robust data visualizations, allowing you to see available resources, ongoing decay, and other stress points in your life as a neighborhood planner.

The big question mark I have with Block'Hood is the elder game. Block'Hood is currently in Early Access, so the game has time to eventually tackle those issues, but a lack of elder game has plagued a number of city sims in the past. On the PAX East showfloor, Block'Hood has a lot of promise and a cool visual. Hopefully, the developer can deliver on that promise.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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