Following on from the recent Unpacking and Exo One, Townscaper is the latest zen-like experience to grace Xbox Game Pass. Not only is it even more relaxed than those two, but itâ€™s also far simpler. Yes, even simpler than Unpacking â€“ a game centred around unpacking boxes, unsurprisingly enough.
In Townscaper, pressing the A button generates a piece of land. Press it again, and a building will appear. Once more, and that building gains a second floor. And so on.
Itâ€™s less of a game and more of an art tool, giving the chance to create an idyllic town with buildings of all shapes and sizes while cycling through pastel-hued colour schemes. A nautical theme is present â€“ houses are decorated with lifebuoys, anchors, giant fishing hooks, and tiny stairways that lead to the waterline.
Experimentation is rewarded with unique building types. Itâ€™s possible to generate gardens with statues, cathedrals, lighthouses, and more â€“ providing you figure out the corresponding block formations. Structures can be partly removed too, creating decorative archways, and adding metal supports to freestanding buildings.
A few extras reside in a toolbox, including the ability to change the time of day, ergo shadows and lighting, all of which assist in capturing a moment of tranquillity.
The tech employed is pretty neat â€“ buildings are not unformed, but rather uniquely chiselled due to an irregular grid shape. Itâ€™s hip to be trapezium. Scout the map and you may even find the chance to create a perfect ring of buildings. Much like Minecraft, itâ€™s possible to build without restriction, creating structures that reach into the clouds.
Itâ€™s easy to wish for more â€“ the ability to create a row of quaint shops, or freely place fountains and benches. But if these things were implemented, they would impair the gameâ€™s simplicity. Thereâ€™s pleasure and comfort in how simple Townscaper is; to add more would only dilute it. The flocks of pigeons are enough to make a town feel alive.
The price point compliments the package perfectly â€“ a mere Â£4.19 for those without Xbox Game Pass. This means unlike Unpacking, which launched at almost Â£17, itâ€™s perfectly priced for something you may only play for a couple of hours initially, and only revisit for five minutes here and there.
And really, thatâ€™s the beauty of Townscaper â€“ no matter how much time you have free, it delivers the same relaxed experience. Itâ€™s your flexible, stress-busting, friend.
Townscaper is out now on Xbox One/Xbox Series. Itâ€™s also available on Switch and PC.