Not for Block’Heads
In a perfect world things like pollution, oil spills, and deforestation would be myths. Mankind would live side by side with nature effectively and efficiently with little to no detrimental cost to the environment and surrounding ecosystems. Alas, no such world currently exists. We’re stuck on a planet of diminishing returns as we slowly outgrow the resources available on this planet.
It is, nevertheless, nice to imagine.
Pretend instead that you took the eco-friendly/green model of living and applied it to games like SimCity. Now, I never played SimCity, but I played the hell out of The Sims, and I know that mechanically they are more or less the same games. Block’Hood uses the same formula where the player must build up a Hood with an economy to support it and resources to sustain itself. The twist is that you will need to look over the aspects of the wilderness your Hood coincides with just as meticulously.
The game isn’t intense by any means, and may not be most gamers’ cup of tea. That being said, with an interesting art style, relaxing music, and a heartfelt message, Block’Hood is worth looking at. Especially given it’s price point.
Where the hood, where the hood, where the hood at?
Block’Hood consists of building up a “Hood” that can be made up of animals, humans, or both. Throughout the course of the game you must observe your resource inputs and outputs through your resource table. This will let you know what you have of each, and whether you are losing or gaining said resources. If you’re unsure what items in the game provide these resources, simply select them from the table, and then check out your item purchasing menu. An “O” above the item will indicate that it outputs this resource, meanwhile an “I” indicates that said resource is an input. In other words, it eats I resource, and poops O resource.
Be sure to keep an eye on all of these features. If you lose necessary resources, the building blocks of your Hood will begin to crumble. Flashing red blocks will indicate that a certain item is about to collapse. This means it will no longer produce on its own. One of two lost ‘Hood elements can mean chaos and utter downfall for your city, so make sure to pay extra attention as you build.
Block’Hood is certainly a unique game, especially in that it has different modes with which a person can play. The one you’ll want to hit up first is the Story Mode, easy enough to find as it’s at the top of the menu listing. This is odd though in that it’s not necessarily a Story Mode and is in fact more of a lengthy tutorial session. With five chapters over all, each one goes a little deeper into the mechanics behind Block’Hood so that players get a taste for all of the offered flavors.
Then there’s Sandbox Mode which offers two versions inside of itself: ecology and free roam. Ecology is the main game where you have to counterbalance nature while you utilize resources to the best of your Hood’s interest. This will include both humans and wildlife for the best symbiosis in gameplay. The other version, free roam, is exactly what it sounds. Play the game without restrictions or challenges and simply build away. This could be appealing for some, but one must be aware that there’s a high possibility that the game could get stale quickly as it offers nothing for the player to work against.
Welcome to Block’Hood! Population: You!
If these things by themselves are still not appealing enough, but the game intrigues you, fear not! Block’Hood offers the player a challenge mode with various goals to meet in preset amounts of time. These may include, but are not limited to: maintaining a certain amount of water, determining the base for your Hood’s economy, and so on. Challenges are ranked based on their difficulty as well, so the player will know what they’re getting into ahead of time.
Block’Hood is not without its issues, however. I’m hopeful that this is because my copy was a review version and didn’t include certain features. Regardless, the most prevalent issue is that completing story mode became suddenly nearly unattainable upon the final chapter. Specificity is not one of the game’s strong suits. While that’s forgivable in terms of figuring out what needs to be done, it’s less so when you’re still working at the behest of the game’s instructions. Be careful to obey all of the directions the game gives you, but weary of how, as they can ensnare you if you’re inattentive.
With that, the fact that the story mode doubles as a second tutorial is somewhat vexing as well. Neither seems to manage all of the mechanics of the game perfectly either, which means you’ll still be left wondering how a lot of things work when it comes to flying solo.
Go Green to Save Green
I feel that it’s worth mentioning that I attempted challenge mode also. The easiest one too, which was to obtain 250 units of water. I couldn’t complete it, and I’m fairly comfortable now (finally) with my knowledge of the game’s mechanics. I have no idea what I was doing wrong. It should go without say that this was frustrating. I questioned if there was a bug, or if this aspect of the game just wasn’t complete.
Block’Hood is certainly an interesting addition to the community building/resource management genre. While it might not be the first in a series of game styles that I’d recommend, the aesthetic and mood is certainly one worth mentioning. The eco-friendly angle that the game tries to emphasize is optional. However, it is the best way to complete goals and save money.
The game could burn a gamer out pretty quickly though. Over time it becomes more of a juggle between resources and production than about actually building anything. You can choose to work more with nature and animals than humans, or have a healthy mix of the two.
This blocky world is more or less your oyster and in your hands. Do with it what you will, just remember how mother nature can turn.
Final Verdict: 3 / 5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Developer Digital ; Developer: Plethora-Project LLC; Players: 1 ; Released: March 10, 2017 ; ESRB: E for Everyone ; MSRP: $9.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PC review copy of Block’Hood given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.