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Review: Spacefolk City

One of the best things about the virtual reality (VR) industry is its ability to surprise and delight, especially when it comes to new indie games popping up left and right. Moon Mode began teasing its colourful building title Spacefolk City a couple of months ago, showcasing an amusing twist on the popular genre. And it is certainly a little bit different, challenging you to think how to expand a floating space city whilst trying to catch asteroids whizzing by.

Spacefolk City

One of the best things about the virtual reality (VR) industry is its ability to surprise and delight, especially when it comes to new indie games popping up left and right. Moon Mode began teasing its colourful building title Spacefolk City a couple of months ago, showcasing an amusing twist on the popular genre. And it is certainly a little bit different, challenging you to think how to expand a floating space city whilst trying to catch asteroids whizzing by.

The happy spacefolk are in trouble, big trouble. The star their world orbits is firing off increasingly deadly flares as it prepares to go supernova. So the spacefolk don’t want to hang around and wait for that to happen! Unlike most city builders Spacefolk City isn’t about making a permanent home for a growing population of residents, rather building up a city that can blast its way to safety.

You’ve got eight campaign levels to complete, with the first few serving more like training levels with various challenges to solve. Plus there’s a Sandbox Mode giving you free rein to build a city however you wish, no tasks to get around here.

Spacefolk City

Because you’re building in the void of space you’ve got complete freedom to drop buildings wherever you feel like, within the 3D area, the only restrictions are that every building needs to connect to another and they’re within the power field. This is the first thing you set up, placing a generator next to those ever so common electric clouds that float around space. This will create an area highlighted by a green box which you have to work within, the only exceptions being basic environmental objects like platforms, stairs and the zip-line to help all the little spacefolk get around. Whilst this power mechanic provides one of the core strategic elements to work around, it can sometimes be infuriating as you can’t create more clouds. Each level has a set amount and the Sandbox mode only ever offered up one cloud to build around, meaning really wide expansion is impossible.

That being said there’s plenty of gameplay options to get stuck into and it’s hard to stay annoyed at Spacefolk City for long, as there are so many imaginative elements in play. Before you build anything resources are required and the only way to gain “scrap” is to grab asteroids flying by and rip them apart. Yup, that’s right, those lumps of rock can come in from any direction – you’re in space after all – and easily shoot past if you’re not paying attention. Once torn apart they drop a scrap item that can be given to those tiny peeps to work on whatever building you like. Just pick them up and place them.

Each spacefolk requires their own home that has to be tailored to their specific style. Hotdogs, Cakes, Artists, Magicians, Bananas, Gardeners, they all embody one of these and their homes need to match. It’s what makes Spacefolk City so bright and colourful, there are tons of customisation options to make each city as weird and wacky as you like. And the only way to unlock more cosmetics, spot one of the rare yellow-glowing asteroids and pull it apart for a surprise.

Spacefolk City

Then there are all the important city buildings that help improve your workers and upgrade your city. Speed, Stamina and Skill buildings make the spacefolk walk faster, stay awake longer and activate their special abilities. Three tiers for each are available, and these again have to be decorated to suit particular residents. So the cheapest tier will only be for one type, whilst the costly third-tier accepts three types. As such, build one of each basic type for your banana folks and should a hotdog resident appear they won’t use your banana buildings. It’s a simple mechanic which works very well when either space or time is short – some levels like to drop a solar flare or two on you.   

That’s where more advanced buildings like the refinery (get more from each asteroid), warehouse (storage for your scrap), Defense Beacon (energy shield) and the Rocket Booster come into play. Once the latter is unlocked that’s pretty much it – even in the Sandbox mode – fire it up and off blasts your city into the black void.

In a way, it’s almost a shame to do that. Once you’ve built this vibrant space hub full of people zipping around doing little jobs the last thing anyone wants to do is lose the entire thing. A fully built-up city can be an amazing thing to peer into, like looking into a highly detailed Lego creation, it can be a feast for the eyes.

What Spacefolk City truly excels at is the use of spatial gameplay. Played either seated or standing, the ability to inspect your city from any angle, the asteroids that fly in and the giant looming sun that hovers directly overhead; Moon Mode has created a wonderfully inviting experience that could only be appreciated in VR. There are still glitches such as the menu system becoming illegible due to showing multiple pages on top of each other or items getting caught on invisible walls (mostly the scrap) but that wasn’t enough to hamper the overall experience. What it desperately needs is a random multiple cloud generator option in the Sandbox. Other than that, Spacefolk City is certainly worth a look if you like god-like city creation in VR.      

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/10/review-spacefolk-city/

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