URBO

Review

URBO is a city building puzzle game developed by the Door 407 team. You might already know them for their medieval city builder game Diplomacy is Not an Option. Despite its appearance, it is not a traditional city builder. The buildings are purely cosmetic and do not have any specific use besides merging them to complete the puzzle. URBO has a very mellow atmosphere and definitely gives some Islander vibes.

The premise of the game is to build cities on floating islands. At the start you only have one island to build on, but eventually you get several floating islands you can construct. The overall goal of the game is pretty straightforward - you try and build a city with the highest population possible. 

The mechanics are similar to a Match 3 game. You place your buildings as they come, and when three of the same level structures are placed together, they will merge and create a new building of the next level. There are buildings starting with one level all the way to eight levels. As in a Match 3 game, if you place your buildings well you will create a chain reaction. The larger the building, the more population it will add to your towns. Since there is a limit to the number of buildings you can place, you have to be strategic when deciding where to drop your buildings. Otherwise, you could get land locked. There are also cards you can earn in each playthrough. You earn these cards when you merge more than three buildings and create combos. Perks you can gain by using these cards are: adding extra an extra building, adding a level to a building of your choice, switching two buildings, or transporting a building to an empty cell.



As you play and the population of your island grows, you will unlock different types of buildings. There are eight different types, but these are entirely cosmetic. Additionally, you can switch the time of day between morning, day, evening and night. Each one has different looks and adds different lighting. All of these are just for aesthetics’ sake so you can create beautiful screenshots. There is a photomode where you can take shots without having the UI. The variety of options you can choose from means that every screenshot is unique. Furthermore, you can move the camera angle any way you wish. I really enjoyed playing with this photomode, and anyone who is a screenshot-lover will find this a rare treat in a puzzle game. It is a great way to share your completed towns with other players.

In addition, as you play you will start to unlock different settings. You start with a dune area and gradually unlock more areas, which include the original dune, glade, desert, waterfall, valley and archipelago. Each of these areas have their own unique style and atmosphere. Even though it doesn’t change anything gameplay-wise, it’s fun to play in a different setting and makes for some fun variety.

There are also three game modes to choose from. First you have the Regular mode which is equivalent to an endless mode. You play until every cell on your island is full. The buildings you set down appear in a random order. Then you have the Puzzle mode which gives you a predetermined number of buildings of each size and you have to place all of them on your island. As in the Regular mode, you don’t control the order in which the buildings come. In the Puzzle mode you must be careful how you place your buildings because they will only fit in a specific way. I found the Puzzle mode unexpectedly challenging. It was surprising to me because the game’s vibe is so chill that I did not expect to encounter such a challenge. The last mode is Sessional, which is the same as Regular but with a limited number of buildings.

URBO has support for VR. While I have not tried it, I can only imagine how fun it would be to play it with a VR headset and feel like I’m part of the city. It is such a beautiful game; I really love the aesthetics. It is also optimized for the Steamdeck. I’ve tried playing on it and it ran very smoothly.

URBO is such a relaxing game, and the music completes the chilled vibe - I had a great time! I loved the automatic saves because it meant that I could play in small sessions without having to worry about losing my progress. When you fire up the game, there’s a ‘My Towns’ section which is divided in two sub-sections. One is for finished towns, where you can revisit your completed towns to admire them and enter photomode to share them with other players. There’s also another sub-section for games in progress. You can simply pick up where you left off and continue building. For those who love to compare their progress, there is another section where you can see your global stats. It was kind of fun to see my best record and try to beat it.

If you are looking to a relaxing game to play after a hard day’s work, or you just want to wind down over the weekend, URBO is definitely the game for you. With its soothing music and beautiful graphics, it’s perfect for enjoying a short session. Despite the chilled vibe, don’t be fooled, URBO’s Puzzle mode is quite challenging. The gameplay is simple and easy to pick up, and had me coming back over and over again.

Review written by VEE for Zeepond.com

URBO Steam Store Page


Positives

+ Very relaxing game
+ Fun photomode
+ Challenging puzzle mode
+ Simple mechanics

Negatives

- Only for puzzle-lovers

Review Summary

URBO is a relaxing game with simple mechanics and beautiful graphics. It has a chilled vibe but is challenging enough for those looking for something a little more difficult.

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Zeepond Rating: 8/10

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