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Timberborn Demo

For day two of my demo-deep-dive, I wanted to check out something a little different than what I’ve been playing lately. I stumbled across a pre-early access game called Timberborn that caught my attention, not least because it’s been far too long since my last city-building binge. The delightful style caught my eye, but the interesting take on the genre is what held my attention.

Timberborn is a colony builder that stars humanity’s logical successors: Beavers. While this sounds like a goofy premise for what is often a very serious genre, it actually sets the stage for some very interesting mechanics. The structures in your colony are all wood-based, and there are systems to control the flow of water - both par for the course choices for beavers, and also a really interesting focus for a city builder. Also of note are the stackable buildings, which add some nice verticality to your construction. In the demo, the homes were stackable, which I found really convenient for creating a central living/relaxation area without having to waste nearby farmable land.

In this version at least, the problem of note is the coming dry season, which I figured would mean slightly decreased rainfall, maybe slower crop growth. Instead, the rivers completely dried up. While this would be an issue for any society, the colony’s power also comes from water wheels, meaning we were now thirsty, without crops, and powerless to roast any more potatoes. Despite my intense lack of preparation, my colony survived with the food I’d collected before the drought and my pitiful two rain barrels. I could see a few locked technologies that would be essential for a longer dry season, like irrigation systems to water crops and some type of manual power generator.

(EDIT: I went back to play a little more and they all died within two days since they were thirsty through the end of the dry season, do not mess around with your water supply! My heart is broken.)

Since this is so early in development, there were a few systems that weren’t playable but looked really interesting. There are explosives and a few water control structures, presumably for redirecting the flow of water to suit your needs. There were also 2 different races (species?) to choose from, which seem to have different technologies or bonuses associated with them. Also due to it’s early status, the tutorials are still a little bare bones. The menus and systems are quite a bit less complicated than many similar games though, so it didn’t feel too overwhelming to just dive in and explore the different options and figure out how they would work together. (EDIT: Until, of course, you kill off your entire colony. Again, build lots of water storage. Don’t repeat my mistakes!)

Though it’s so early, I’m really excited about this project. I was surprised to find out its Mechanistry’s first game, as it seems more ambitious and polished than I would have expected for such a small team’s first project. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one, and I’m looking forward to the early access version, which they hope to have up in Q1 of this year.

Timberborn is planned to launch an early access version on Steam and GOG early this year.

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