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  • Writer's pictureL. Sahara McGirt

Review: Timberborn

Publisher: Mechanistry

Developer: Mechanistry

Available on: PC (Steam Early Access)

New city-builders and resource management games are becoming a dime-a-dozen, but I'm always eager to check the latest of them out. Sometimes they're fantastic and bring something new to gaming that I haven't seen before. Other times, they're typical fare for their genre. Timberborn, however, is something new altogether.

Timberborn had me intrigued from the get-go. Touted as a post-apocalyptic city-builder where instead of humans trying to survive, we have beavers to manage, it's already an interesting premise. Managing these busy builders is different from what we get managing humans; they come with their own built-in tools with their teeth, so there is no need to worry about making tools for them to use. Keep their teeth well-cared for with a grindstone, and they're good to go.

The best part about the beavers that sets them apart is; They swim, and water, while important in most city-builders, is especially important for these little semi-aquatic herbivores. Navigating the waters is as easy as setting a path through them, which players must do to manage their water resources well. Water is most important in Timberborn as it adds an especially unforgiving element to the game: Droughts.

Unforgiving because well-preparedness for a drought makes all the difference in whether or not these little beaver denizens survive. Timberborn's droughts force you to really pay attention to not only how much water and food you have stored up but how much your population has grown. Depending on chosen difficulty level, droughts can last a few to several days, and improperly balanced resource-to-population ratios will really drain any stored goods and quickly destroy a population. Even if you've properly dammed up some water to have on hand for drought, it's really easy to deplete it during a drought.

Droughts quickly became a dreaded norm while playing through Timberborn. The cycle of hydrated land becomes a reprieve from the droughts but then becomes a countdown of hurriedly building up resources while preparing for the next. Resource management became an addiction as I readied my toothy denizens to weather the storm, so to speak. Timberborn can be quite thrilling and stressful all at once. However, once you have the hang of it, it becomes a walk in the park.

Timberborn is still in early access, so it has some roughness around the edges that need sanding down. It does feel like it is still in development, needing more to keep it interesting. However, it's progressing into something rather promising, and I'm looking forward to jumping back into it each time there's an update.

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