The smallest details in dioramas are what catch the eye and stimulate your imagination: the tiny shrubs in the quiet corner of the building, the empty park bench behind a building, the screeching seagulls that congregate along a miniature coastline. They wonder about the life behind the architecture and how they fit together to form these peaceful landscapes. Those are the tiny, empty scenes that you can spy on in the virtual toy and minimalist game Townscaper, which allows you to build wonderfully quaint little towns by simply clicking or tapping your screen. There are no goals to be achieved or great tasks to be accomplished: just you, infinite waters, and endless possibilities.
And now, there’s no excuse not to try Townscaper if you haven’t already – there is a free demo you can do play in your browser now so do it. I’ve just spent an hour fiddling around and the demo appears to be largely similar to the full version of the game. You start by choosing the colors of your structures from a selection of soft hues and then laying your bricks one by one on the calm sea. The stones will click together wonderfully for you with a satisfying pop. This is how Townscaper conjures up for you: an entire city with cathedrals, suburbs, courtyards and lighthouses can be created for you in no time at all.
The remarkable thing about the townscaper experience is how serene the building experience is. There are no resources to be extracted, managed, or many other considerations. There are few, if any, rules to follow, although the algorithmic magic of the game can spawn multiple shapes and roofs that you won’t expect. But in its innumerable grids and stones there are many secrets to be discovered. How do you build a staircase between two structures? How do you build a roof garden? Can you build a floating island The joy is discovering those hidden nuggets of architectural knowledge and then using your newfound skills and tricks to build intricate and sprawling coastal villages.
It is these conscious choices of leaving players room to explore rather than just offering them the simple means of dropping stones to being what makes townscapers so invigorating. With this in mind, Townscaper is making more use of traditional games that encourage exploration – like Minecraft and even No Man’s Sky – where the player is supposed to learn more about this universe in the midst of their construction and tinkering. It might seem a bit of a stretch, but isn’t the freedom to create and manipulate structures, expose and break the rules of this virtual landscape, and build fantastic, unworldly buildings that are more game-like than Townscaper’s original premise of a digital toy ?
Plus, Townscaper’s colorful, architectural wonders are just amazingly beautiful. And it’s more than just a collection of walls, bricks, and green; It is a canvas for your imagination that is deeply malleable to your whims. You can only wish that you could take a getaway to these quirky cities.
We take a look at all of the Electroculus locations on Inazuma’s Yashiori Island.
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