Game: Before We Leave
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, Windows, Linux) PS4, PS5, Xbox One, & Series X)
Developers | Publishers: Balancing Monkey Games | Team17
Age Rating: US 10+ | EU 7+
Price: US $19.99 | UK £15.99 | EU € 19,99
Release Date: August 2nd, 2022
Review code used, with many thanks to Team17 & Press Engine.
Before We Leave was released over a year ago on Steam for PC. The game is described as a “non-violent city building game set on multiple planets in your cosy corner of the universe.” Unlike other city-building games, it is a reasonably simple city builder and exploration game.
Mind the Peeps
You start with a few people (peeps who look like little wooden people or Weebles) exiting a bunker after the apocalypse and having to rebuild civilisation one island and one planet at a time. You never find out why the apocalypse happened, but it’s pretty clear it was some natural disaster like climate change.
At its core, Before We Leave is a city builder with a few 4X elements. You’ll lead your peeps to construct houses, and potato fields, gather resources and harvest science for research. Build a thriving community on an island before building a ship and exploring the planet you are on for other landmasses to colonise. Then once you have your colony of peeps set up on different islands on the planet, you advance to search out other planets and colonise them.
Build your Colony
An in-depth tutorial helps as you are taken through the typical resource management gameplay loop step-by-step, explaining the detailed interfaces and conveying the task quickly and making the game very approachable.
There are typical structures you’d expect from a city builder; dwellings, sourcing raw materials and production, a research facility in the form of a library and an explorer’s hut, an iron mine and much more. The landmasses also have remnants of the old world, which can either be repaired or reused.
Relaxing to Play
The most striking thing about the game and the thing I enjoy the most is it is relaxing to play. Unlike most games that fall within this genre, there aren’t any enemies. Space Whales might approach your planet after repairing the spaceship, but an offering of food soon takes care of it. Overall, Before We Leave is about colonising planets, managing resources, and ensuring your peeps are happy.
I played Before We Leave when the game was initially released on Steam. It has changed slightly since then, the menus are more refined, and the tutorial is much more comprehensive. Included in the game now, along with normal mode, are four scenarios to try out. The scenarios offer different challenges, which is a great addition, but I’d like to see more scenarios as four is a little mean.
PC vs Switch
I was sceptical about how Before We Leave would look on the Switch with a much smaller screen than a PC. However, it is a visual feast; the different islands’ vibrant colours are lovely. In addition, witnessing the light change with the sun’s movement is beautiful, as the shift into nighttime is amazing.
When you move around the planet, the clouds evaporate so as not to obstruct your view. You can even see the shadows moving along with the clouds as they disappear and reappear. Each planet is a whole three-dimensional globe that looks like a 3D puzzle that is half-built until your ship completes its exploration of the earth.
The game runs well on the Switch, there is the odd framerate flicker when you move the camera over your colony but it’s not game-breaking. Controls work pretty well too, not the most intuitive control system but it does the job.
Before We Leave is very accessible for any beginner to the genre as it’s almost impossible to fail at the game. However, while the game is relaxing to play, the gameplay might not suit hardcore strategy fans. Still, nevertheless, it is a good addition to the Nintendo Switch’s catalogue in the simulation and strategy genre.
Final Verdict: I Like It a Lot