Games of the Year

Constructor

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In a town where anything goes, you can’t rise to the top without taking a few others down. From dodgy deals to shifty tricks, do what you gotta do to go from small-time slumlord to filthy rich tycoon. In Constructor, you take on the role of a budding property tycoon who must do battle with your competitors to create a thriving and profitable city...in ANY way you see fit! Design and share city maps with online multiplayer battles against up to 3 of your friends. Build houses and factories; cope with the incessant demands of your tenants as well as keeping a whole bunch of UNDESIRABLE characters under control! This ‘colourful’ group of degenerates can also be used against the competition with humorous and catastrophic effect! If all else fails, call in the Mob…
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

Constructor is a game I've always wanted to get into, infact I bought the DOS version on GOG probably around the time GOG itself launched, but with the original not having any tutorial and myself both not being able to parse a long manual or appreciate the nuance of the RTS genre back in those days, it always sort of spat me out every time I made the attempt. What Constructor 2017 does is it takes seemingly that exact same game, and makes it accessible with both a robust tutorial and series of training missions, and a great interface with easily-understood hotkeys.
The first important thing to understand with Constructor is that it looks like a City-Builder, but it's actually an RTS. Sure, that's a hazy distinction to make, after all, you do build a city, and City-Builders require strategy that unfolds in real-time, but SimCity this ain't. Constructor is competitive and aggressive. You're competing against other teams and send all kinds of troublemakers to mess with their cities, and murder is frequently the best option. I've found that games like SimCity or RollerCoaster Tycoon, while certainly absorbing and fantastic in their own right, can hit a point where it feels like things are kind of running themselves and you've "solved" the city. Constructor constantly throws new problems at you and you have to be really fast about addressing them. You have to be fast about building and leveling up to the next set of buildings and you have to stay on top of things 100% of the time. Juggling it all is a massive cognitive load, but it's deeply compelling and when you finally do get the upper hand it's incredibly satisfying.
While the game has a lot of moving parts, the systems work smoothly and the tutorial does a good job easing you in and making you understand how each part works. The hotkey interface lets you do things quickly and the game even plays really well with a controller which is fantastic for Steam Deck users (I "gamepad with mouse" config that emulates a regular gamepad but has the right trackpad as a mouse, and I mapped the pad click as a mouse click. I've been wanting a city/management/rts game that would play well on deck and this is the best so far. The only real interface gripe I have is it's hard to select only workers, since those are what you do your defense with, but they mainly follow around the noncombatant foremen. Still, that's minor and the game plays incredibly smoothly letting you focus on the strategy.
I lose a lot, but every go-around I learn something and realize where I went wrong, and that makes me eager to jump back in. Visually the game is great, it captures the look of a 90's isometric strategy game while still looking "HD" and that's a very fine balance to pull off. The visuals are colorful, but grimy enough to convey the generally seedy theme and I love the character designs and animations. The only true complaint I have about the game is that some of the mission requirements are occasionally a bit too vague or ambiguously worded, which can be bothersome, and some missions don't seem suited to respond if you do too well early on (one mission requires you to destroy a lot of buildings, but it's easy to destroy so many and ruin your enemy so badly that they can't aford to rebuild and you get stuck). This won't be an issue if you're playing a standard non-mission game and the missions are otherwise very fun, especially as you figure out what to do and start to be able to almost speedrun certain parts.
Constructor might not be for everyone, some folks might expect one thing and get something else, and it's an incredibly fast-paced and aggressive game, but it's constantly interesting, easy to understand, and smooth to play with a great sense of style. There is an updated version on Steam called Constructor Plus that adds some things and apparently has some quality-of-life improvements, but that's version's 20 dollars and this version is 3 dollars right now, and I just wanted to dip my toes in and see what Constructor is about before committing to a bigger, more expensive version, and since this game is so hardcore I'd say it's a good way to try without getting too committed. Suffice it to say I'm pretty enthralled with it so far and I imagine I'll get the Plus once I master the basics.

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