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Review | Before We Leave

After a stressful day in the office, which can often be your own house these days, some games are relaxing, get your mind off the daily struggle, and provide a happy care-free world. Before We Leave is a city-building game created by Balancing Monkey Games and published by Team17.

There have been plenty of city-building games that have appeared on Steam, and sometimes Xbox, which all have their unique ‘thing’, a specific element that sets them apart. What’s interesting about Before We Leave is that it’s doing a couple of things differently compared to other games in the genre. First of all, it doesn’t just let you build a town on an island, it also lets you explore other planets. Secondly, it brings climate change and your impact on nature into the mix. And lastly, it’s an indie Anno game.
For people who aren’t familiar with the Anno series from Ubisoft; it’s a long-running series where you build a town on an island where managing the flow of goods is a vital part of the gameplay. Before We Leave is somewhat similar, in a much more toned-down fashion.

Saving the planet, take two.

In Before We Leave you are building a new future for your ‘peeps’ – the name given to the busy populace of your little planets. The peeps have fled underground after the world became uninhabitable. This all happened due to the influence the peeps had on nature. Sounds familiar, aye?

Luckily, the peeps in Before We Leave have the chance to start all over. Starting fresh as a civilization allows you to do things differently. You are warned not to cut too many trees and to replant them. You are warned about the downsides of advancing your civilization. But most of all you as a player are shown how a system of unending growth can be catastrophic in the long run.

Hexagonal gameplay

Hexagons are important. Not only in life, as they’re magnificent shapes, but also in this game. They are the puzzle element included in this city builder. Everything you build needs to be connected to a road, which – just as the structures you build – need to be placed on a hexagon. The planets you are building on are big balls made up of hexagons. The puzzle element is building your town most efficiently, enabling you to place everything as close together as possible. Without cutting down all the trees on the islands!

Now, Before We Leave isn’t a difficult game. On the contrary, while a chill experience can be dull at times due to the lack of a challenge. Puzzling your way through various steps of growing your island’s population, settling on new islands and even new planets is fun, but not always very rewarding.
The game is gorgeous though, the first time I sailed around my starting planet I was stunned by the design. The hexagons that haven’t been discovered yet allow you to view straight through the entire planet, which is a lovely design choice. The towns are full of vibrant colours and look beautiful. The peeps could’ve been a little more prominent in their design, but the way they stroll around town is a lovely sight to behold.

Summary

Overall Before We Leave is somewhat of a middle-of-the-road city builder with some lovely concepts and a relaxing vibe. It doesn’t nail everything it tries, but overall it’s an enjoyable experience. The non-combat approach could’ve been executed better at times, with more challenges thrown at the player. Meanwhile, the small hexagon islands can be enjoyable for people who like some puzzles in their city builders, while for others they could feel a little limiting.

Before We Leave is a cute, polished city builder perfect for when you’re in the mood for something relaxing and less challenging, with the looks to back it up.

Before We Leave is available on Xbox Game Pass for console and PC.

Before We Leave

$20.00
7.5

Great

7.5/10

Pros

  • Lovely visual design
  • A different approach to city builders

Cons

  • Not enough of a challenge
  • Progress doesn't always feel rewarding

Pieter "SuikerBrood" Jasper

29 year old gamer who grew up with Commander Keen and Jazz Jackrabbit. A PC Gamer. (Sorry, not sorry). Dutch, but actually Frisian. Loves Age of Empires, Sea of Thieves and wishes for a new Viva Piñata.

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