A Relaxing City Builder In The Works
Blood for the Blood God, Skulls for the Skull Throne! These are the demands of Mesannepada, king of Ur. Hold it! I’ve just been informed those are demands from a completely different universe. Mesannepada wants nothing to do with it, he just wants to see sustainable growth and prosperity. How underwhelming.
Either way, on such we shall deliver, playing a city builder from Decumanus Games. We’ll place residential districts to attract immigration, industrial, farming, and fishing districts for our people to work at, and commercial districts for them to spend their money. Add to this the need for religious, administrative, and production buildings, a tech tree, and we’ve summed up Sumerians.
The first thing you’ll notice is the lackluster presentation. This stands true for the barebones menu and the loading screens, the in-game encyclopedia, and the game itself. The lacking menus and loading screens won’t be experienced for more than a couple minutes, but instead of building up excitement to head further into the game, they rather just pull you down. As for the in-game graphics, to each their own, I didn’t mind the appearance. I think it gave the whole experience a less serious vibe which was welcome. However, the encyclopedia is a big con, not only regarding it’s not at all appealing presentation but also the lack of content in it. I would hope for more entries, deeper breakdown, heck, going all in with pictures and step-by-step explanations. And similarly, regarding vital information being unavailable about some key buildings. Case in point royal farms that produce grain, your main currency. All is well, until you realize you also have to add a farmer’s building and transporters to the equation, while you have absolutely no idea how much land a single farmer or a transporter can cover. I had similar issues with the fish market that is supposed to generate income based on how many fishing wharves you have, but I couldn’t figure out the mechanics and ratios for the life of me, so I just quit on it completely. This issue becomes less painful when it comes to supply chains, for example, clay pit into a pottery workshop into a brewery you can make them work, but still just knowing how much produce comes from each of these to optimize production would be my number one ask.
Beyond managing your production, Sumerians tasks you with two more items: religious influence and technology. Religion keeps people flowing and building and staffing the different tiers of temples generates religious influence which then translates to immigration if you have free residential spaces. Tech is generated by specialized workers and as you would imagine, unlocks advancements on a tech tree. It’s a system I would expect to come across playing a colony sim, rather than a city builder, but admittedly it doesn’t feel super out of place, and if nothing else it at least nudges the player toward a clear line of progression.
I’ve pointed out quite a few asks and issues, but despite all of them thinking back at the roughly 10 hours it took me to experience what the game offers, I have to say I had a fun time. Yes, it was a struggle to figure things out now and then, but else I was just popping down happy little buildings and watching my city grow. The lack of details certainly needs fixing, but until then, it results in additional satisfaction when you manage to somewhat figure things out. The relaxing times are further supported by the pleasant background music and the colorful, simple art direction. All of this colludes in a title that was joyful to pull up after a day of work, just laying back in the seat and letting things play out.
We don’t recommend purchasing early access titles as you never know whether the promises will ever come through, but as far as Sumerians and the regular updates it receives goes, if you’re a 1fan of the city builder genre, I can wholeheartedly recommend you keep an eye on it and consider giving it a shot on release.
Semi-retired game designer and developer trying to use my experience to enhance the strategy and strategy adjacent gaming sector. Strategy game player for over 35 years. Game development experience in AAA, Indie, and Board.