Wherever you are in the world, close by is a rundown building or a street in desperate need of repair. Boarded up pubs, graffiti-riddled phone boxes and derelict homes once filled with life and promise are empty, abandoned and uninhabitable. For all of its beauty, our world is filled with those blemishes mostly forgotten about because we are too busy trying to keep moving with the beats of a fast and turbulent existence.
On the surface, Block’Hood may look like other, more familiar simulator games. You build a neighbourhood and are tasked with sustaining life at all costs: constructing something untouchable by adversity or decay, making sure your economy continues to grow whilst defying the odds. While all this is true, there is something quite special here, and the beauty in building you city comes in the knowledge and pride you’ll gain along the way.
Block’Hood is about inputs and outputs and learning what you’ll gain from each of the 90+ blocks currently at your disposal that ultimately keeps your city growing and evolving. The foundations of each creation are the fundamentals of human care, and when you have built your trees, solar panels and water wells, other blocks will become available. Having electricity and water means you’ll be able to build an apartment block, in turn allowing people to live in them. These inhabitants will begin to work and you’ll start to earn money, giving you a living, breathing ecosystem.
Every block adds something more intricate to what you are creating and as the game carries on, the challenge of keeping your city clean and productive becomes harder and harder. Over time, if you don’t make sure your blocks have maintained inputs they’ll decay and eventually break down. If you lose electricity or labourers, shops will close and people will leave. Everything you’ve spent so long building will start to disappear right in front of you. The premise is basic, but paying a close eye on every facet of your neighbourhood is key if you want to stop it from falling apart.
You’ll have plenty of ways to monitor progression and productivity through the analysis screen. At any one time, you can be monitoring many different aspects all attributing to your design. It’ll be filled with numbers going up and down on everything from your water supply to your leisure, and monitoring this will be constant. You’ll also be checking in on other data, such as the structural fortitude, accessibility of your blocks and as previously mentioned the decay levels.
Block’Hood does a great job of teaching you how to play the game through a helpful tutorial and its selection of challenges, but the best aspect of gameplay comes in the form of its sandbox mode. You can decide how big an area you want to build on and all the blocks are unlocked from the start, allowing you to create something truly unique. If you start to find your neighbourhood filling up, the game allows you to build vertically as well, giving you the option to fit lifts between floors or plant life on the third or fourth floor. It may be a cliché and forgive me for saying it, but your imagination is the only limitation.
Plethora Project is looking to build on this Early Access title, and once the game is completed, who knows the limits it will reach. It’s so interesting to know that Block’Hood has already been published in academic publications, and when the game features all the modes in intends to release, it could be used for a much greater purpose than whiling away a few hours in the pursuit of entertainment.
Block’Hood will teach you about ecology and decay, cause and effect and the importance of preserving life. It may have a simple concept at its root and you may look at the game as just another sim, but Block’Hood provides an education into life and the need to look after our world around us.